Despite locking out top spot in both Friday practice sessions, McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton both believe that Red Bull has the legs when it comes to Saturday’s qualifying session to determine the grid order for Sunday’s all-important race.
"The car feels reasonably good around here," Button said after Friday practice. "There are still some areas where we’re not so strong and the Red Bulls will once again be the cars to beat in qualifying tomorrow, we can’t get away from that. I just hope we’re closer than we’ve been in the last two races.”
The defending World Champion also rated Ferrari as a potential threat, despite neither Ferrari having yet shown any blistering pace around the Istanbul Park circuit this weekend.
"I think the Ferrari will be quick here, too. It should be the top four teams that we normally see and possibly Renault as well, so I don’t think qualifying tomorrow will be boring – there should be some good battles."
Team-mate Hamilton echoed his team-mate’s sentiments about Red Bull’s potential this weekend.
"I have no doubts that tomorrow in qualifying the Red Bulls will pull out something extra, which they always seem able to do," he said. "We haven’t made too many changes to the car for this race but we’ve got a chance this weekend and I think we’ll be able to compete with them."
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso shares the same opinion as his McLaren counterparts in his belief that Red Bull is the benchmark team come Saturday afternoon, and would be well-placed to bag its seventh consecutive pole position and continue its washout of qualifying this year.
"It would be a surprise if the Red Bulls were not ahead of everyone," he said. "We are thereabouts, behind them along with McLaren, that is my prediction.”
Would anyone be brave enough to bet otherwise this weekend?