Vettel and Hamilton relishing prospect of title showdown

It is four-time champion Vettel who holds the early advantage after a resurgent Ferrari delivered on their pre-season form to beat Hamilton's Mercedes and win the opening race of the new season in Australia. Vettel controlled the race from there, with Hamilton lackingf the pace to put the Ferrari driver under pressure.

In the end, though, there was no way anyone could challenge the red vehicle, as Ferrari scored a hugely important victory which ushered in the new era of F1 in the most popular way, as far as many fans round the world were concerned.

"This year we will see the best against the best", the Briton said.

"Finally we can have an actual race".

Thereafter, there was no stopping Ferrari, who made up for fumbling what should have been victory here a year ago by setting out their stall for all to see. But on Sunday, Vettel demonstrated that Ferrari is a real threat this year by clinching victory in Melbourne. "I'll need to keep working, because there are going to be some really tough races this year", said Hamilton.

The 2007 F1 world champion is confident once Ferrari cures the understeer he is battling while using ultra-soft tyres he can cut down the deficit to Vettel and provide the Italian manufacturer with opportunities for 1-2 finishes. "And if the roles were reversed and he was ahead he probably would have pulled away".

Hamilton defended Mercedes' decision to bring him in for a pit stop earlier than Vettel.

"Obviously right now it looks like we have equal machinery. I hope it turns out that way", said Vettel.

Speaking about the race, the 32-year-old said: "The team asked me to give information where the tyres are throughout the run - and just the race that we had planned to race and I was asked to race wasn't necessarily the optimum". He saw no reason to change his mind after Melbourne, saying that the increased turbulence from the auto in front makes overtaking more hard. Only Britain's Jenson Button, in 2009, and Germany's Rosberg last season interrupted their success.

The Ferrari had had appeared to have made progress during the winter and that was confirmed in Australia as their race pace matched up well with what has been a Mercedes that has dominated recent seasons. Hamilton was nonetheless still eager to take on the Ferrari driver who won four world titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013.

  • Julie Sanders