Nico Rosberg says Ferrari and Mercedes are “very close” but insists his team is “ready for a battle” this season.

Mercedes comes in to 2016 as heavy favourites following two seasons of dominance in F1, but Ferrari closed the gap last year as Sebastian Vettel took three wins. While Mercedes has been in impressive form so far during testing, Rosberg insists the two teams are very closely matched at this stage.

“It’s close out there between the two teams I think,” Rosberg said. “It’s difficult to know where [we are] exactly but they’ve done a great job so we need to really give everything because they are very close and a big threat. But of course we are confident and we are ready for a battle, for sure.”

Rosberg finally used the soft tyres for the first time on the opening day of the second test before handing over to team-mate Lewis Hamilton, and he says it was a fair hint at Mercedes’ pace over one lap.

“It’s difficult to say for now, it’s very close between Ferrari and us I think, and maybe some other team might be there as well. Today we were doing qualifying practice this morning as it’s important to practice that as well, and that’s all the more enjoyable to take the car to the limit and really push.”

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