Mercedes: We lost with humility - now we'll fight back immediately

Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team says they will come back stronger from their defeat to Ferrari at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Four-time champion Vettel finished 10 seconds clear of Hamilton at Albert Park, which marked the first time a team other than Mercedes has won the first grand prix of the season since 2013.

Lewis Hamilton lost out to Sebastian Vettel in Melbourne after higher tyre wear early in the race prompted him to pit first and gave his Ferrari rival the chance to leapfrog him at the stops.

Fulfilling the promise they had displayed during winter testing, Ferrari claimed their first victory in nearly two years when Vettel triumphed at Albert Park ahead of Hamilton.

After defeating poleman Hamilton in a straight fight in the 2017 opener in Melbourne, Vettel admitted he was excited by the thought of a season-long contest.

Hamilton warned that he had poor grip on the grid and had a bad start here past year, dropping from pole to sixth, but eventually recovering to second behind his former team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Mercedes won 19 of the 21 Global Positioning System last season, and Red Bull won the other two.

"It's really through strategy, through pit-stops, that we're racing right now". F1's new chairman Chase Carey and Ross Brawn and Sean Bratches - the sporting and commercial executives - were all present in Melbourne, and while they will be pleased that a Mercedes vehicle did not win, the show itself was hardly a thrill-a-minute spectacle.

"I hope it stays that way and then we will see how it turns out".

"If you look who we're up against I think Mercedes have been phenomenal in the last few years", the quadruple world champion said. Hamilton won back-to-back drivers" titles in 2014 and "15, and narrowly lost past year to Rosberg, who then retired.

But the 32-year-old Briton appears to be revelling in both dynamics - the tension-free atmosphere at Mercedes following the arrival of Valtteri Bottas, and the task of what he described as the "best versus the best" in reference to his title showdown with Vettel. McLaren Honda continued to show their reliability issues as Fernando Alonso retired due to a suspension problem. Palmer crashed in practice before qualifying last - an eye-watering 3.3 seconds adrift of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg in the same Renault machinery - and then failed to finish the race.

Ferrari's testing pace left many to wonder whether the team could take on Mercedes this season. I truly believe we can beat them. We are going much faster through the corners. "We were pushing flat out [in the first stint - ed] but were not able to pull away", Wolff explained, adding that coming out behind the Red Bull sealed the deal for Ferrari.

  • Leroy Wright