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January 21 2018, 12:09 | Van Peters
Hamilton thinks Ferrari are the team to beat
Besides the two wins Red Bull Racing took home, Mercedes won every race.
So Sebastian Vettel is the first F1 victor of 2017.
The times kept improving during the three practice sessions and the Mercedes driver's last flying lap in qualifying Saturday was 1 minute, 22.188 seconds.
"Right now it looks like we have equal machinery", Vettel said. It's a lot of fun to drive.
"I have an incredible amount of respect for Sebastian and what he's achieved in his career".
It's only the first race of the season, so we can't get too excited yet, but early signs are that Ferrari could be ready to give Mercedes some stiff competition this time around.
"I am really proud of my team, the guys have worked so hard to make the auto what it is today". The Mercedes driver started on pole position but failed to stay ahead of the German following the pit stop phase, having been kept behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
While there is only so much that can be gauged from practice, with drivers operating varying fuel levels, the theory that this year's wider, faster and more aggressive looking cars would suddenly shake up the order and bring a dramatic halt to Mercedes' dominance is now under significant scrutiny.
Hamilton is revelling in the new generation of quicker cars, which coincides with American group Liberty Media's takeover and the exit of long-time ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone. Fernando Alonso retired on the 50th of 57 laps to continue his unsuccessful run at McLaren.
It was a better day for Felipe Massa, who came sixth in his "comeback" race following his short-lived retirement from Williams past year. Lance Stroll, the 18-year-old Canadian rookie, ended an eventful first F1 weekend two-thirds of the way through Sunday's GP.
Verstappen took fifth, Brazilian Felipe Massa (Williams) took sixth, and the Mexican Sergio Perez (Force India) finished seventh.
Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene says the team must "avoid distractions" if it wants to maintain its strong start to 2017 after winning the season opener in Australia.
The race on Sunday was the first following significant changes to the regulations, and since American giants Liberty Media acquired the sport. "But I couldn't go any further I basically used up all the money that I had in those tyres".
The result leaves Vettel alongside a Mercedes which had well-documented troubles off the line throughout 2016.
"Sebastian and Ferrari were well-deserved winners", Wolff said.
"The biggest problem was that when Nico decided suddenly overnight that he was not going to race with us anymore, we were standing there with open mouths", Lauda told Sky Sports F1.
Between Hamilton and Vettel, the duo have won seven of the last nine championships since Hamilton won his maiden title in 2008.