Hamilton laps up crowd's cheers at F1 season launch party in Melbourne

Hamilton laps up crowd's cheers at F1 season launch party in Melbourne

Despite its slump in the second half of past year that cost Ferrari clinching both championships, Vettel believes it has every reason to be confident it will address its 2018 weaknesses and begin this season in a much stronger position.

The next wave of serious changes is expected in 2021 but there will be subtle tweaks in 2019. The cars have lacked a bit of rear stability. "We could draw some conclusions from testing but not much".

Can Ferrari Close the Gap?

Williams has endured an extremely tough pre-season after an equally hard 2018 campaign that saw previous drivers Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin score only seven points between them, but the Grove-based outfit are fielding an all-new line-up in Kubica and 2018 FIA Formula 2 champion George Russell.

Ferrari have won 235 races since 1950, McLaren 182, Williams 114, Mercedes 87 and Red Bull 59. However, a slew of uncharacteristic mistakes by Vettel down the stretch cost the team. "A lot of my friends have said they really like the colors of our auto and everybody says it looks great watching trackside".

"What we see from testing, we think [we are underdogs]", Bottas told reporters in Melbourne. Amid the presence of Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc joining Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, and Pierre Gasly linking up with Max Verstappen at Red Bull, Bottas has appeared to be nearly the forgotten man heading into 2019. My concern is that while his profile will rise in the jump from Sauber to Ferrari, he's also going to be in a completely new vehicle.

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"My last Formula 1 race was in Abu Dhabi 2010, so I am looking forward to going to Australia with a few things to cover and learn".

Vettel said he considered 21-year-old Leclerc a "full rival" despite his relative inexperience and expressed confidence that Ferrari can clinch their first drivers' crown since Raikkonen's triumph in 2007.

The team said on Tuesday it had expedited an upgrade for the RB15 vehicle in time for Sunday's race, a month earlier than scheduled. "I feel very strong both physically and mentally, and seeing the great spirit of our group of people gives me that extra bit of motivation".

No Australian has ever won a home grand prix. Vettel has won it twice, Nico Rosberg twice, and Lewis Hamilton.

"To be completely honest, these 50-50 situations, when the time will come I will probably be let know in the auto", he said. "We are more prepared but we can't do better than last year's result, so it is a tough weekend ahead of us". "Most of it is going to be up to me if I make it or not, and that's a good feeling".

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