Hamilton hopes for 'best v best' duel with Vettel

"I have great respect (for Hamilton)", said the German.

Team boss Toto Wolff said: "The Ferrari was the quicker vehicle, seen by the way that Sebastian was able to hold onto Lewis's gearbox".

Sebastian Vettel jumped onto the podium at the Australian Grand Prix and held up his right index finger, celebrating the end of Ferrari's Formula One drought and a break in the Mercedes dominance.

"When we launched the SF70H we referred to it as "Our Ferrari" and indeed the win reflects all the effort and hard work put in over the past few months, both in Maranello and at the track".

"We are similar pace-wise, so it's going to be a very hard slog", he said after the race.

"We made the call to pit, because otherwise I think Sebastian would have come past me anyway".

Hamilton came second, seven points adrift with 19 of a 20-race season still to run.

Vettel was victorious after matching Hamilton through the first stint of the race and then taking the lead after running five laps longer before pitting.

Lewis Hamilton believes his rivalry with Sebastian Vettel will see the "best against the best" going for this season's F1 title.

Vettel won by nearly 10 seconds from Hamilton and Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in a commanding victory of tactics and superior speed around the Albert Park street circuit. At last they have a auto with which they can dispute for the victories against Mercedes and other teams.

But we want to know what you think, and if, based on this first race, you're looking forward to the rest of the season. "We've been waiting for this victory for nearly a year and a half", said Marchionne in a statement.

It was the four-time world champion's first grand prix win since September 2015 and - in remarks that doubled as a slight on last year's title victor, his former team-mate Nico Rosberg - Hamilton welcomed a likely tussle for supremacy with Vettel. I said it years ago when joining Ferrari.

"If there's any questions or I'm missing information there's immediately a person who will help and support me and that makes a big difference to step up to this team". I had nothing left in my tyres. "I hope it turns out that way and we will see how it turns out but it's obviously a lot of fun to race for victories against the best". "Let's get out of here", the shattered Ricciardo told his Red Bull Racing colleagues over the team radio.

  • Julie Sanders