And Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is the first to reckon that both British champions will struggle a great deal in the upcoming F1 season, mostly due to their car's poor reliability and level of performance.
The British team launched their MP4-26 on February 4, after the Valencia test, therefore missing 3 days of running. Despite debuting an innovative aerodynamic package – the most important and visible element was the forward exhaust system – the car suffered plenty of reliability problems in Jerez and Barcelona, being limited to the lowest mileage from all F1 contenders this season.
That being said, Ecclestone doubts Hamilton and Button will make quite the impression in the Australian Grand Prix, despite the fact that McLaren have changed their aero package dramatically in preparation for the race Down Under.
“Lewis and Jenson are going to have a bit of a struggle this year I think, but having said that, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and any of the other top guys will have a problem,” he said in a recent interview with the BBC Sport. “It won't be easy, I don't think anyone is going to walk away with it. A lot of these things depend on the car.”
“I have no doubt in my mind that both Jenson and Lewis will perform very, very well, if the car is capable of doing that. As drivers they are both capable of winning the championship and they have done in the past.”
Additionally, he did not avoid to hand over some favorites for the bookies going into the F1 season, arguing that, on paper, the two Red Bull drivers and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso seem like the guys to beat this year.
“Looking at it now you would have to say one of the Red Bull guys will be champion or Alonso but as I said, it won't be easy. You've got three guys there who could maybe do it. You never know about our English drivers but there's a big question mark over them,” he concluded.