Sport

Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes have 'work to do' as Ferrari threaten

Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes have 'work to do' as Ferrari threaten”

Here, Press Association Sport takes a closer look at the major talking points ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, the season's curtain raiser.

However, Rosberg admits that Vettel needs to drive a "perfect season" from the cockpit, and fend off the challenge of his new teammate Charles Leclerc.

The 21-year-old Leclerc, Ferrari's youngest race driver since 1961, is one of a number of tyros seeking to make an early impression in Australia.

"This is going to be the toughest battle yet ... their pace is very good at the moment", the Briton said after suggesting in preseason testing that Ferrari could be as much as half a second ahead. Mercedes stars Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas came on stage with team chief Toto Wolf, with the British driver snapped taking pictures of the supporters gathered in Melbourne.

If Bottas can emerge as a stronger competitor for 2019 then he still has to rely on an external factor - the performance of reigning World Champions Mercedes against the apparently rejuvenated Ferrari squad.

"The race in Melbourne represents the start of celebrations for this special anniversary, which will run throughout the Formula 1 season and also feature in the Prancing Horse company's other racing activities".

"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".

"What we see from testing, we think [we are underdogs]", Bottas told reporters in Melbourne. We think they're going to be strong because Honda looks strong now as well and they've always had a good vehicle.

"It's only guessing where we are going to be but, as we last were on track, we are chasing Ferrari and we'll see where we are here".

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. "I'm confident the auto will be better here [than in testing], but if it's enough, we'll find out".

Red Bull will be entering their new Honda era with Dutch hopeful Max Verstappen and Frenchman Pierre Gasly at the helm. 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.

The pressure is arguably heavier on the shoulders of German rival Sebastian Vettel, who won just five races previous year and saw his challenge evaporate with a string of mistakes on track.



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