This is a very dangerous time for Formula 1 pundits. You can fly a flag based on what you think you have seen in testing and can end up being hung out to dry when the predictions all go horribly wrong in Melbourne.

The best way to deal with this is to sit on the fence, or in the case of the stay-at-home monkeys with typewriters who pretend to be F1 reporters, you can write all kinds of stories, whether they are contradictory or not.

I found it fascinating to read that Peter Sauber is saying he does not believe for one minute that Red Bull is in trouble, while former F1 driver and TV commentator Marc Surer is widely quoted as saying that Red Bull Racing chiefs are worried because of the apparent speed of the Mercedes AMG Petronas team in recent weeks.

Surer reckons that Sebastian Vettel was two seconds off the pace of the Mercedes, which is a big amount, even if you are running with fuel. "They seemed surprised by how quickly Mercedes could go," he said.

He believes that Red Bull was holding back its best new parts during the winter tests and that these were put on for the last test, but did not produce the intended impact.

Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda says he does not know whether the other teams are bluffing or not, but he is happy with progress that has been made. "We showed at the last test that we are quick," he said.

But are they really quick? It is impossible to say. Running light when everyone else is testing with fuel can make a car look good. It is a trick that F1 teams have been using for many years when they want some good press in the run-up to the new F1 season.

These days, fuel is pretty important when it comes to distorting lap times. It is calculated that 10kg of fuel is worth around three-tenths of a second per lap, so if a team is running almost empty, the car is going to be a second a lap quicker than a team that is running with 30kg. A second per lap is a lifetime in Formula 1 terms.

Peter Sauber does not believe Red Bull is struggling. "Anyone who concludes that Red Bull are not right at the front is definitely in for an unpleasant surprise," he said. "They have so many resources that they can respond to difficult situations. You will see."

But who is right?

Talk to the engineers and they will tell you that science is science and that F1 development tends to be linear, with tiny gains here and there, rather than great leaps forward. The rules have been the same for quite a while and the loopholes are no longer there.

On paper, therefore, the pecking order should be much the same as it was three-and-a-half months ago when the cars last raced. Most of the machinery is pretty evolutionary. You can argue that Mercedes has put a lot if effort into this year's car after it became clear that last year's was not good enough.

You can argue that McLaren has built an entirely new car in an effort to move the goalposts and that Williams may have gained some advantage by delaying its car and having two more weeks of R&D, rather than testing at Jerez.

The problem is that all the engineers I have spoken to say that they don't know who is going to be quick. If they don't know, I don't see how any journalist could possibly know. They can guess and hope that they look smart in the end.

One gets the impression that the teams themselves don't know. A few days ago we had a bizarre situation when Lewis Hamilton was saying that the Mercedes team was not ready for big success, while at the same time Nico Rosberg was reported as saying that the team could challenge for the World Championship.

In the meantime, there is much speculation that Mercedes will be at the front in Australia. Expectations are high, and that means that if the team does not live up to them, the result will be disappointment.

Hamilton says he is still not convinced. "We definitely haven't seen the full potential of our competitors yet," he says, "so it's difficult to predict where we might be."

I'm with him on that one. But isn't that great?