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2015-02-23 08:17

RED VERSUS SILVER: The 2015 championship could be a battle with 'improved' Ferrari and dominant Mercedes. Image: AP / Manu Fernandez

BARCELONA, Spain - A fascinating picture emerged from Formula 1 testing at the Catalunya circuit near Barcelona, Spain, as several teams threatened to step up to challenge Mercedes.

Ferrari appeared, surprisingly, as the biggest threat to Mercedes' supreme dominance.

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg told Auto Motor and Sport during testing at the Catalunya circuit despite neck and back problems: "Ferrari could be our opponent this year. We have our eyes wide open."

RIVALS HAVE 'IMPROVED'

Rosberg played down the "sore neck" story, despite sharing duties on Friday (Feb 20) with team mate Lewis Hamilton who was down with a cold.

Rosberg said the issue arose when he began to test in a new driving position at Jerez: "I'm just being a bit cautious and decided to get out of the car at lunch today."

Hamilton said he was not feeling 100% but even that was not enough to explain more competitive rivals for 2015.

Rosberg told reporters: "Our opponents have clearly improved, especially Ferrari, and the lap times have really surprised us."

Lotus has been quick, so have Williams and Sauber, while Red Bull took its new RB11 to the top of the time sheets on Feb 20 with Daniel Ricciardo driving.

RED BULL ON PACE

Ricciardo said: "I know it's just testing but it is encouraging seeing us on top or at least in that front group."

New Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel played down the perception that the 2015 battle might be a case of "silver versus red". He told Italy's Rai: "Mercedes has set the bar very, very, high for all the other teams and it's difficult to have closed that gap so quickly."

Williams' Felipe Massa agreed: "Ferrari and Red Bull have done good times but I still believe the Mercedes is the best car.  We are there too. We will only really find out in Australia."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.
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