Karun Chandhok has backed Red Bull to take the F1 title fight to Mercedes from the very first race. The former driver likes what he saw from the team in early pre-season testing, and thinks they can hit the ground running from the outset - unlike in previous years.
Red Bull are notoriously slow starters, but with Mercedes looking less than convincing during F1 testing in Bahrain, Chandhok thinks now could be the perfect time to catch the seven-time world champions out.
"What is clear, is that for the first time in a long time, Red Bull will head to the first Grand Prix being a genuine contender for wins," the 37-year-old stated in the Sky Sports F1's season preview.
"It doesn't mean they're going to win it and they are the dominant force, but it means at least they're in the fight. That's what we want, we want the championship fight to go from round one to the last race between two teams."
While he expects a strong fight from Red Bull, he is quick to not dismiss the overwhelming favourites for the constructors world title. Mercedes may have endured a tricky few days in testing, but as Chandhok warns - write them off at your peril.
"By the time we got to the end of testing the Mercedes started to look more like the Mercedes we know. They are a very high-quality operation and haven't forgotten how to build a good car," Chandhok concluded.