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Mercedes look to burst Ferrari's bubble in Melbourne

Mercedes look to burst Ferrari's bubble in Melbourne

'For sure it's a new challenge, ' said Vettel.

Ferrari were faster this year in pre-season testing and a strong start for them will test arch-rivals Mercedes. "It's something I've kind of also realised over the past years and especially last year that I definitely only have one career and I don't want to be in the situation that after the season where I should have done this or that".

It is, perhaps, a more challenging task than piloting a Formula 1 vehicle around the streets of Melbourne's Albert Park, but for the remainder of the weekend that will be Valtteri Bottas' mission, as he seeks to bounce back from a 2018 campaign that was disappointing in the extreme.

Formula One is changing its scoring system to award a point to the driver who sets the fastest race lap.

"We try to turn the page - we obviously had our weaknesses last year and we tried to fix those and do much better this year". "I wasn't expecting to see so many people here, ' said a shocked Hamilton". "In terms of performance, it's hard to judge where we are".

Philip Morris last October made a public return to Formula One through its scientific research subsidiary Mission Winnow and branded Ferrari cars with the logo.

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"Judging from the performance in Barcelona (testing), it looks like we will have a proper fight on our hands in Melbourne".

"We've got the best team around us".

"It's always nice to start here in Australia but it will be a very long and tough season, so just being focused". "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. So whoever is quickest this weekend, it doesn't really matter as long as it's close. [And] I think it's a case of adding pure performance, but even then we know we haven't unlocked the full potential of the auto.

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. Over the past two years, the way they've been able to improve the auto during the year has been pretty rapid, so for sure they're going to be a threat as well.

Despite its slump in the second half of previous year that cost Ferrari clinching both championships, Vettel believes it has every reason to be confident it will address its 2018 weaknesses and begin this season in a much stronger position.


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