Vettel: Ferrari team spirit is right after personnel changes

Daniel Ricciardo didn’t have a great start to practice

Camera Icon Daniel Ricciardo didn’t have a great start

Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari have the edge going into the opening Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne, but the Mercedes ace remains quietly confident in his bid for a sixth world title.

After an ultra-impressive winter, Ferrari are expected to be the quickest team when the new season begins in Melbourne. We think they're going to be strong because Honda looks strong now as well and they've always had a good auto.

"What we see from testing, we think [we are underdogs]", Bottas told reporters in Melbourne.

"The name of this year's auto, the SF90, is already a celebration of this anniversary and, on top of that (we have) chose to honour this achievement in an even more evident manner in Melbourne", Ferrari said in a statement. "From what we have learned so far, this year will be even tougher", he added.

He continued: "We'll obviously try to have a great, smooth weekend".

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His Ferrari arch-rival Sebastian Vettel swept home in an Australian thriller past year, getting a jump on Hamilton after Mercedes miscalculated a pit stop under virtual safety vehicle conditions. "Over the years, I think the approach to races has changed, so I have a lot of things to discover but I am looking forward to it". "We're going to be kind of chasing".

Speaking at a press conference, the assembled drivers all paid an emotional tribute to FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting, who passed away on Thursday night.

Under different management and after a positive winter testing, Ferrari have arrived in Melbourne with a fast vehicle and plenty of buzz, raising expectation of a genuine challenge to five years of Mercedes dominance.

Red Bull, who have switched to Honda power, are thought to be in close proximity to Mercedes while Alfa Romeo and Haas may well challenge Renault to be the "best of the rest". "I'm curious to see how it goes at that time". "We could draw some conclusions from testing but not much".

The track is partially made up of public roads that wind through Albert Park and with the high-speed chicane in turn 11 and 12, this will be testing for the drivers who will need to get to grips with the immediate change of direction very quickly to avoid the nearby gravel trap. We've been trying to plan with the team all my sponsor events a bit more in advance so I can plan my calendar a bit more around it, all the details in terms of travel, logistics, hotels, everything to help my wellbeing and performance.

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