Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn says he expects "a really exciting season" as a result of a much tighter grid in 2012.

13729 - Brawn expects 'really exciting season'

After pre-season testing came to an end in Barcelona over the weekend is has been hard to construct a definitive picture. While Red Bull appeared to be the pace-setting team once again, it only managed to cover 93 laps with its updated RB8 on Saturday and Sunday, leaving a question mark over how prepared it will be come the first race. Brawn said that he expected a very close field to be the result at Melbourne.

"I'm expecting the tightest start to a season we've seen for a number of years," Brawn told reporters in Barcelona. "I think we're going to have a really exciting season."

Brawn added that he still felt Red Bull and McLaren were favourites, but that Mercedes would be close behind and that it would be in a group of as many as "five or six" different teams.

"[Form] varies from day to day so there is no definitive ranking. There is a group. Even with the new package the Red Bull didn't seem to stand out. But they may have been running a huge amount of fuel, we don't know. They're going to be competitive; McLaren look pretty sensible - they look as though they have a good car - and I don't think we're too far off. It is so difficult to judge.

"But there are five or six teams that are a much closer grouping than we have seen for a number of years. I have a feeling it is going to be quite close when we get to the first few races."