Lewis Hamilton predicts a tough battle in Australian GP

15 March, 2019, 05:10 | Author: Nicole Aguilar
  • Image AFP  William West

However, Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari are seen as the early team to beat ahead of this weekend's season-opener in Melbourne and Hamilton knows Mercedes have their work cut out.

However, Bottas is not convinced the German team have the package to push Ferrari at the Australian Grand Prix after mixed fortunes in pre-season testing.

Mercedes fought back and things were in the balance.

"The communication is better, just after the test I went back [to the factory] and Toto [Wolff] rallied the troops and we all sat together".

But Mercedes' Hamilton won his fifth world title with two races still left.

Under different management and after a positive winter testing, Ferrari have arrived in Melbourne with a fast auto and plenty of buzz, raising expectation of a genuine challenge to five years of Mercedes dominance.

"The Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix is a spectacle of colour, sound and excitement, and our partnership with CHiQ enables us to deliver all the action to our hospitality guests and event patrons in crystal clear, high definition", said Andrew Westacott, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation.

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"But an F1 season is not just about who comes out of the blocks quickest", he added.

"We've got a contract that says that we're the first race and that runs until 2023. We have experience, it's no coincidence that we are world champions so we have to be diligent and stay balanced", said Hamilton, who has won twice in Melbourne.

The four-times champion will bid for a third successive win at Albert Park's season-opener, having foiled pole-sitter Hamilton amid a virtual safety vehicle deployment a year ago.

But Hamilton swatted aside suggestions that Mercedes is trying to play down its expectations.

Meanwhile Red Bull, powered by new Honda engines, have high hopes that Max Verstappen, who finished fourth in the drivers' standings past year, can crash the Hamilton-Vettel party.

Vettel is a victor and having to settle for second in the drivers and constructors championship past year was tough to take. "It is the second debut for me after being away from the sport for many years".

"I feel Melbourne is the flawless place to start the championship", said the 31-year-old German, now in his fifth season with the glamour team.

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