Hamilton and Vettel looking forward to F1 title fight

Four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel out-manoeuvred Lewis Hamilton and the world-champion Mercedes team with a stunning Formula One victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne yesterday.

The win, in the first race since a sweeping rules overhaul, was the 43rd of Vettel's career.

Four-time champion Vettel said: "It's a great relief for everyone". I was coming back to the pits and there were people running on the track going wild with the Ferrari flags. "It's going to be a more stressful season than in the past but personality-building". I have always said this is outlier, you can't expect this to continue forever. "He was relatively close", Hamilton said.

When Verstappen came into the pits, Vettel had opened a six-second lead over Hamilton at mid-distance.

By the time Verstappen stopped himself on lap 25, Vettel was almost six seconds up the road.

"Towards the end of the first stint I caught some traffic and that overheated the tyres".

In what could be viewed as a subtle barb at Rosberg, who watched Albert Park's season opener from his lounge in Monte Carlo, Hamilton concurred. Ferrari didn't bring Vettel in immediately, instead keeping the German out.

"Overall a great race, good points for the team".

We'll have a clearer indication of Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari's championship credentials, and how Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes will respond when the Chinese Grand Prix takes place in two weeks time. The Finn, who had been widely expected to pose no threat to Hamilton, was impressive in his first race appearance with Mercedes and crossed the line less than 1.5 seconds adrift of Hamilton.

"I don't know if it was exciting for you guys to watch, but for me personally I want to be closer up with cars and more close, wheel-to-wheel battling". However, the suggestion from this race is that a corollary of the quicker cars may well be that racing is harder.

This was turning out to be a day to forget for Hamilton, and so, too, home favourite Daniel Ricciardo. Mercedes won 19 of the 21 F1 Global Positioning System in 2016, and Red Bull collected the other two titles. The vehicle is really behaving well, incredible fun to drive, so yeah - a lovely day. Britain's Jolyon Palmer also had a hard weekend, starting from the back after a troubled qualifying and suffering brake problems before an early retirement.

Verstappen took fifth, Brazilian Felipe Massa (Williams) took sixth, and the Mexican Sergio Perez (Force India) finished seventh.

  • Julie Sanders