Bottas expects Mercedes to be chasing Ferrari in Melbourne

Lewis Hamilton

Five-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton feels that a tough battle awaits Mercedes in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix starting this weekend.

The new season boasts a host of driver changes throughout the grid and only two of the ten teams have relied upon last seasons drivers to deliver the goods.

Hamilton cited that Ferrari have the edge going into Melbourne after they had a promising pre-season in terms of testing.

Bottas has finished well outside of the title picture in both his seasons with Mercedes, coming third in 2017 - 58 points behind title-winner Hamilton - and fifth previous year, 161 points off. "I have a lot to learn but I will push for that".

"Leclerc will be wanting to prove that he is sitting in the right place at Ferrari".

"In this sport if you want to win you need to be selfish, it is that kind of sport, even though it is a team sport you need to think about yourself", he said.

"And we don't know how much they've improved. We said that we had work to do, we weren't talking BS, we have work to do".

"So far, it's been good and I was very happy by how everyone has been working together", said Max Verstappen.

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

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"It is a long season and it is a bit pointless at this moment to start pointing out certain scenarios".

And five-time champion Hamilton is certainly pleased that Mercedes opted to keep their current set-up - having tied Bottas down for one year with an option in his contract for another 12-month extension for 2020.

Last season Hamilton dominated the show after bagging 11 of the final 19 races.

"It means we both have a fair shot".

The 2019 Formula 1 Rolex Grand Prix will get underway today in Melbourne, but not before Barossa Valley winemakers, St Hugos, become the official wine supplier of the race in Australia. "We have work to do". So whoever is quickest this weekend, it doesn't really matter as long as it's close.

Vettel added: "We won't win it here and we won't lose it here".

"We are definitely in the fight and we know we have a strong team".

But Vettel, who won in Australia last season after Mercedes made a strategy error that handed him the race, admitted that Ferrari were in a better position heading into this season than they were in 2018.

Formula 1 is doing its part to modify the cars and the rules to encourage more contested racing and Westacott's corporation is investigating tweaks to the circuit. "We could draw some conclusions from testing but not much".

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