Hamilton second as Ferrari dominates opener

David Coulthard Lewis Hamilton David Coulthard says Hamilton could retire soon Formula One Formula One news 2017 Formula One seson

Ferrari's Vettel made a valiant late bid to snatch pole off Hamilton but finished just 0.268secs down, although fractionally quicker than Bottas. Rivals had seized opportunistic wins in each of those races, taking advantage of unusual circumstances rather than beating the German squad on pure merit.

Vettel felt that Mercedes was still ahead, but was encouraged by the results nonetheless.

Hamilton's frustrations were shared in the team garage where Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff pounded his fist on a desk in rage after Vettel snuck in front of the Briton when re-joining the race from a pit-stop. But that apart, on the day Mercedes were simply not quick enough. "We were pushing flat out and we were just not able to pull away".

"Four titles and an incredible surge into Formula One and he continues to be a force and will continue to be for many years to come".

Sebastian Vettel's success on Sunday confirmed everything that the red cars had shown in pre-season testing to be true, and there was nothing flukey about it.

Hamilton: "Yeah I second that".

Lewis Hamilton laid down a marker as he led a Mercedes one-two in the new Formula One season's first free practice at the Australian Grand Prix on Friday. Or so it was thought. The big difference was being able to deliver a really good auto. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 3.

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Game on - Hamilton vs. Vettel, Mercedes vs. Ferrari. The physical demands on the drivers were greater, though other tracks in hotter conditions will be more taxing.

"I don't lie and I'm not very good at bluffing", Hamilton said. Bottas started to gain on Hamilton in the race's closing stages until he camp upon lapped traffic and began losing ground. "It's been tough the last couple of months", said the German after his fourth win for the team since joining from Red Bull in 2015. "I hope it turns out that way and we will see how it turns out but it's obviously a lot of fun to race for victories against the best".

So Sebastian Vettel is the first F1 victor of 2017.

"It's been a privilege to be racing in an era with [Vettel] and we're now finally at a period of time when we can actually have a real race", he said.

"It's good we had this close battle".

Now China in a fortnight is a different matter: there was a record 128 overtakes on the Shanghai track last season and Hamilton claimed his own record with 18 moves as he clawed his way from the back of the grid. Because it was just what the sport needed.

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