Mercedes and Williams are favourites - Button
Jenson Button believes Mercedes and Williams are "the teams to beat" at next weekend's season-opener in Australia.
The McLaren fared well in pre-season until the final week exposed a potential lack of performance, leaving it struggling to stand out among the Mercedes-powered teams. Button admits it is too early to predict where McLaren will be in the pecking order but he is under no illusions who will be the leading contenders at Albert Park.
"The two that you would pick out that look strong and consistent are Mercedes and Williams," Button told Sky Sports News. "I think those are the two teams to beat right now. We didn't have our upgrade on the car in testing - we did actually have it on, but we didn't get to run it as we had a few issues - so for the moment we don't really know where we stand.
"We don't know where we are going to be in Melbourne, so it is going to be very interesting to see how the race pans out. I don't think we are really going to know the pecking order until we get three or four races in - and again it could change as the update kits come."
McLaren come into 2014 on the back of a season which failed to return a single podium finish for the first time in 33 years. That form prompted the return of Ron Dennis, and Button feels the team are better off for the lift his comeback generated.
"Yes [they have], and I think in a good way," Button said when asked if staff have been on their toes since Dennis' return. "He is quite an unusual character Ron, I have a lot of respect for what he has done in the sport - this team wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Ron. I think everyone is excited, he is looking forward to this challenge and it gives everyone a lot more confidence within the team. So yes, I think him being back at the team is very important for the future of McLaren."