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Mercedes look to burst Ferrari's bubble in Melbourne

14 Марта 2019

The Formula One race in Melbourne isn't just about the race, it's also about the atmosphere.

Interestingly, Ferrari's Charles Leclerc is the only driver from the "big three" (Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull) to have made a slightly different choice and has opted for two hard and one medium with his rivals going for one hard and three medium.

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.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a closer look at the major talking points ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, the season's curtain raiser. "Most of it is going to be up to me if I make it or not, and that's a good feeling".

"There's a lake there, there are ovals there and buildings, so we're talking about subtle adjustments that can improve the racing". "To have any proper examples, I don't know, we will see at the first race".

Asked about the importance of winning the first race, Hamilton said: "It's a long, long season so I don't particularly feel it is the most important thing, it is about finishing races and getting as many points as you can but I am not really one for needing to stamp authority".

Mercedes struggled to keep pace with Ferrari in winter testing, and although the pre-season action has a reputation for delivering misleading clues as to the real pecking order, Hamilton added: "It wasn't hard to read, it was clear". It's a new challenge but I think for the whole team we try to obviously turn the page [on 2018].

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"We're free to race like every single year", Hamilton said. "We think they're going to be strong because Honda looks strong now as well and they've always had a good vehicle".

If SportPesa arrives in Melbourne hoping to slip under the radar in its pink BWT livery, many sentimental F1 fans will be crossing their fingers for the famous Williams team who also sport a new title sponsor in ROKiT.

"I don't think it will decide a championship, but it could do, I guess".

Mercedes have been the Constructors' champions for five years in a row and their drivers have won five years in a row (Lewis Hamilton four times, Nico Rosberg once).

And if Mercedes does emerge at the head of the pack through the course of the year then could Bottas be top dog?

New team-mate Leclerc mirrored Vettel's thoughts on Ferrari's expectations, with the Monegasque curious to see if its pace in testing will transfer to qualifying on Saturday. Perhaps a little puppy love may well go a long way to proving his critics wrong...

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Mercedes look to burst Ferrari's bubble in Melbourne