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. It waited much longer than other teams before bringing Vettel in for his first stop, leaving many to speculate it had thrown the race away.
However, the 29-year-old German insists Hamilton's Mercedes team remain the class of the field. He saw no reason to change his mind after Melbourne, saying that the increased turbulence from the auto in front makes overtaking more hard.
Lewis Hamilton echoed these comments when he took to his Twitter account shortly after the race, too.
Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari celebrates his win in parc ferme with Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene. "I came in and I was a bit unfortunate as I lost some time behind a Williams".
"I wouldn't say I'm happy". It's great for the fans. But I think as a general summary we just weren't quick enough.
It is worth noting the Melbourne track is notoriously hard for overtaking and the cars were evenly matched.
Hamilton said such respect was mutual, and that it was an honour to potentially square off against the four-time champion for silverware this year. That is why we always considered Red Bull or Ferrari to be real competitors. "I had to stop very early and I got stuck behind one of the Red Bulls, but that's just the way it goes".
The British racer came up short against the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, who clinched his first race win since 2015.
Fact is, based on the evidence thus far, it is going to be a very, very hard slog for the pit crew and tacticians, for yesterday proved time and time again that much of the racing is going to mean endless frustration as drivers are forced to remain around 2s down on their rivals unable to get any closer due to the dirty air from the auto in front. "Right now it looks like we have equal machinery and I hope it stays that way". "It's what we needed". Now, with the first F1 race done and dusted, and with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel claiming victory, it's clear that the Scuderia is in good shape. "You need to love what you're doing. I've been here before so I'll wake up tomorrow and be motivated to get ready for China", Ricciardo said after the race.
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