Australian Grand Prix: A welcome change of guard

"I was really trying to keep the pressure on to make sure that they get that message that we are here and we're here to fight".

Speaking after the race, Vettel and Hamilton expressed great respect for one another, and were excited about the idea of a wheel-to-wheel scrap through the year for the title.

The German then burned away for a dominant win that has raised hopes of a genuine challenge to the Mercedes team that has swept the drivers' and constructors' championships for the last three years running.

But she also notes one of the side-effects of the rule change. But to see us come here and be battling so closely for a win and missing out marginally, there's a lot of things to be incredibly proud of.

"Ah, you could push much harder", the race victor said.

Lewis Hamilton echoed these comments when he took to his Twitter account shortly after the race, too.

"It's been a privilege to be racing in an era with (Vettel) and we're now finally at a period of time when we can actually have a real race", Hamilton said.

Rosberg's decision shocked the sport and sent Mercedes scrambling to find a top talent to partner Lewis Hamilton months after all the driver deals for 2017 had been done. The acid test will come at the next round in China where there were a record number of overtakes past year.

Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne has made boosting the Formula One racing team one of his key priorities as success on the track is viewed as fundamental to the brand image, with Marchionne's plans to expand Ferrari's line-up and progress the firm's move into non-automotive luxury goods.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Something that surprised Lewis Hamilton after he posted the fastest lap ever at the Albert Park circuit and equaled Ayrton Senna's record of six pole positions at the Australian Grand Prix was that his time wasn't even quicker.

"At least we have a great driver in Sebastian winning four titles after his incredible surge into F1 and he will continue to be a force for many years to come". I believe I can win and I want to win for the team and the fans.

And he snapped: "I don't know how you expect me to do that". "It's been a great day for us".

"It's unbelievable. It's what we needed", said Vettel. A massive achievement but it does not stop there. It's just the beginning, but is a nice way to give something back.

The other Ferrari driver, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland, had the fourth-best time, at 1:24.525.

The four-times world champion cruised to his second win at Albert Park and 43rd overall with a almost 10-second gap over Mercedes runner-up Lewis Hamilton, proving the Ferrari cars' encouraging winter testing was not just a mirage.

  • Julie Sanders