Mercedes looks to burst Ferrari's bubble

Jose Verdugo
Marcha 14, 2019

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. '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. "From what we have learned so far, this year will be even tougher", he added.

"Judging from the performance in Barcelona, it looks like we will have a proper fight on our hands", Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said to BBC.

A day before arriving Down Under on Monday, the 34-year-old indulged his new sky-diving hobby, jumping out of a plane over the Qatar desert.

But Mercedes' Hamilton won his fifth world title with two races still left.

The race also marks the awesome comeback of Poland's Robert Kubica, who eight years ago partially severed his right arm in an accident that many believed would never see him driving a vehicle again, let alone a Formula One machine.

McLaren, Williams and Toro Rosso have all new driver line-ups with Brits Lando Norris, George Russell and Alexander Albon aiming to impress in their debut seasons for their respective teams.

The four-times champion will bid for a third successive win at Albert Park's season-opener, having foiled pole-sitter Hamilton amid a virtual safety vehicle deployment previous year.

"I've got great memories of this track".

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Monaco's Charles Leclerc, 21, is Ferrari's youngest race driver since 1961 and replaces Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion who has moved to the Alfa Romeo team previously known as Sauber.

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

Mercedes vs Ferrari: What happened last season?

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says it is unrealistic to expect Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari this season.

The team said on Tuesday it had expedited an upgrade for the RB15 auto in time for Sunday's race, a month earlier than scheduled.

"We're still quite unsure about how Red Bull will be", said Bottas.

At a bumpy street circuit where overtaking has been hard, F1 bosses will hope the introduction of new rules can inject spice.

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