Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Lewis Hamilton predicts a tough battle in Australian GP

Lewis Hamilton predicts a tough battle in Australian GP

'We had our weaknesses last year here and there and we obviously try to fix those and do much better this year.

Across the paddock Ferrari's pre-season pace has been the talk of the town, with the prancing horse seemingly the team to beat ahead of lights out in Melbourne on Sunday, though testing is not always the be-all and end-all of a teams' destiny. Another former F1 driver, Ralf Schumacher, says the "biggest mistake" made by Ferrari previous year was not giving Vettel "everything he wanted".

Since 2014, Mercedes have been the dominant force in F1, adding five successive drivers' titles to their team honours.

Buoyed by blistering speed at recent testing, Vettel sounded confident he could finally threaten Mercedes' five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton's dominance in 2019.

The new season boasts a host of driver changes throughout the grid and only two of the ten teams have relied upon last seasons drivers to deliver the goods.

While Mercedes have retained Valtteri Bottas as Hamilton's partner this year, one of only two unchanged driver line-ups, Vettel has a new teammate in Charles Leclerc who shifted from Sauber - now branded Alfa Romeo - in a swap for Kimi Raikkonen.

Formula 1 returns to the track for its 70th season, and this year promises to be one of the most eventful seasons ever. "Fun is to win a lot of races and then ultimately you are fighting for the championship", said the 31-year-old Vettel.

"I think people know him, and have learned to trust him".

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

He gets his opportunity at Williams, which finished last in the constructors' championship in 2018. A victor now gets 25 points with 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and one for the subsequent places.

As a street circuit, overtaking has never been easy in Melbourne, but the drivers will hope that a new regulation change to simplify the front and rear wings will aid overtaking on Sunday.

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