Ferrari in better shape than 2018: Vettel

Silvia Morton
March 14, 2019

"We think they're going to be strong because Honda looks strong now as well and they've always had a good vehicle".

But it was Ferrari who sizzled in pre-season testing to emerge as the early favourites in Australia, with Hamilton claiming the Italian team could be up to half a second quicker around Albert Park on Sunday.

Mercedes, seeking to become the first Formula One team to take six successive title doubles, will throw everything at Ferrari, who can afford none of the mistakes of 2018. "We don't know what they've got up their sleeve".

Bottas says the key to his new approach will be being more guarded with his time to ensure he is in the best possible position at the start of each race weekend to maximise results.

But Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas countered: "As a team we've learned a lot from the package we had in testing and how we can optimise it better for the first race".

Having won 11 of 21 races last season, another F1 title would put Hamilton one shy of Michael Schumacher's record of seven and stir the debate about the greatest racer of all time.

1:30                                            Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle Paul Di Resta and Johnny Herbert gave their verdict on F1 2019's first day
1:30 Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle Paul Di Resta and Johnny Herbert gave their verdict on F1 2019's first day

"I hope that this year we get to have a lot of fun".

"The name of this year's vehicle, the SF90, is already a celebration of this anniversary and, on top of that (we have) made a decision to honour this achievement in an even more evident manner in Melbourne", Ferrari said in a statement.

Last season we saw Ferrari start off with a bang and they kept up with the tempo.

"It's a big change [this season] but Mattia has been with the team longer than I think most of the people that work for Ferrari, so he's not a new face", said Vettel, speaking at the inaugural season launch event in Melbourne.

"I believe that Mercedes will be very strong in Australia and I think that we would be completely wrong to believe that we are faster than them", he said. Amid the presence of Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc joining Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, and Pierre Gasly linking up with Max Verstappen at Red Bull, Bottas has appeared to be nearly the forgotten man heading into 2019.

Alfa Romeo, formerly Sauber, named Kimi Raikkonen to partner Antonio Giovinazzi in 2019 and the Swiss team are hopeful of being prominent in what will be an enthralling midfield battle. 'So far, the spirit is right, the team is on track, the vehicle feels good so let's see how we start the year.' Hamilton, meanwhile, is braced for a scrap.

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