Bernie Ecclestone has changed his mind.
A month ago, the F1 chief executive said that with Mercedes clearly "best prepared" for the all-new 2014 rules, his tip was "(Nico) Rosberg winning the title".
But on Tuesday, Ecclestone told Germany's Sport Bild: "(Lewis) Hamilton will win the first race, and he will also be world champion this year."
But why Briton Hamilton now instead of German Rosberg?
"Because he has the best car," Ecclestone reasoned, "and he was already world champion" in 2008.
The 83-year-old insisted, however, that his favourite Sebastian Vettel is actually the best driver on the Melbourne grid.
"He will be the best at these new complicated rules," said Ecclestone, "once his car gives him the chance to do so."
Horner tips Mercedes driver for 2014 title
Red Bull boss Christian Horner is predicting an all-Mercedes silver duel for the 2014 title.
"Lewis (Hamilton) and Nico (Rosberg) -- who else is there?" he is quoted by the Times after a disastrous winter for reigning quadruple world champions Red Bull.
Horner may not sound confident about Red Bull's chances with its struggling Renault-powered RB10, but he is not writing off the Milton Keynes based team.
"If people write us off, that's their choice," he said.
Horner insisted Red Bull is "up for the challenge" of nonetheless climbing a "pretty steep mountain" in 2014, acknowledging that the team's position right now is not good.
"It seems the Mercedes-powered teams are in good shape and we are, er, not," he smiled.
Renault is taking much of the blame for the crisis, but car designer Adrian Newey admits Red Bull might also have been wiser.
"Looking back," he told the April issue of the Red Bulletin magazine, "it would have been smarter to concentrate full power on the new car earlier on.
"(But) in August, no one could have guessed that we would be so far ahead by the end of the (2013) season," Newey added.
Outside Red Bull, there are cries of relief that Red Bull's run of dominance appears over.
"One team destroying it for four years, having ass-whipped so badly, is not good for the sport," Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton is quoted by the Express.
"I've been flying through all these airports and keep bumping into someone from a different country who says they used to watch F1 but not anymore," he added.
McLaren's Jenson Button fully agrees that Red Bull's problems are good for F1.
"It's sad to say we think like that but it's the case. They've been too dominant," he is quoted by the Telegraph.
Horner, however, suggested that Mercedes' advantage could prove just as boring in 2014.
"If they were to finish two laps ahead of the opposition in Melbourne, that wouldn't be a surprise, based on what we've seen in pre-season testing," he is quoted by the Mirror.
"They invested more, they invested earlier. They have got themselves into a good position."
Horner claims that with the 'power unit' so important in 2014, Red Bull is at a slight disadvantage compared to its main rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.
"The split between chassis and engine is obviously different in our team than it is at Mercedes and Ferrari," he is quoted by the Guardian.
"We're not totally integrated."
But even Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull's billionaire team owner, thinks a change of colour at the top of the order in 2014 could be welcomed by F1.
"Two hearts beat inside me," he told German news agency DPA.
"As a fan, I am glad it is more exciting again -- maybe our dominance is at an end."
With reports of a recent 'hissy fit' already denied, Mateschitz tipped Sebastian Vettel to "cope" with his new position on the grid.
"I don't think he will have a problem coping with the current situation," he said. "Just like the entire team, he accepts the challenge."
Vettel, speaking to Austrian Servus TV, agrees: "We were very successful in recent years, achieving many things, but we always knew it would not always be so."
Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda would agree with that assessment of the pecking order.
"I say it reluctantly," he told the Austrian broadcaster ORF, "but I'm assuming that the first three grid positions (in Melbourne) will have Mercedes engines."
Red Bull could give up on 2014 chase - Trulli
World champion team Red Bull may switch its focus to the 2015 season within weeks if it thinks this year's title is already lost.
That is the view of former F1 driver Jarno Trulli, who told Italy's Il Giornale newspaper that the Milton Keynes based team is a long way behind its rivals for the start of the new turbo V6 era.
"Red Bull made a mistake with the design of its machine, but they will cope," the 39-year-old said.
"The team is seriously behind its opponents," added Trulli.
"If in a couple of months they have not caught up, I think they will switch the preparations to next season and use the race weekends as tests," he said.
Meanwhile, Trulli admitted he is no big fan of the 'new' formula one, where each driver will have to conserve a limited amount of fuel in order to reach the chequered flag.
Asked if he likes the 'new' F1, he answered: "No.
"I like the formula one where the driver takes the maximum from the car all the time."
- Interested in buying ? Visit our showroom for more information.