Sebastian Vettel: Ferrari's problems made Australian GP shockingly easy for Mercedes

Mercedes

Ferrari blamed balance issues around the bumpy track and they clearly have work to do before the next race in Bahrain, with Sebastian Vettel finishing a distant fourth, 57.1 seconds behind Bottas.

"I believe that it's taking risks", he added.

Leclerc appeared to be closing in on Vettel towards the latter part of the race as he made the most of his fresher tyres but appeared to back off from Vettel in the closing stages - despite suggestions earlier in the weekend that the pair were free to race.

"In the end, I managed to get the fastest lap as well, which of course means an extra point this season, so I went for it".

"I don't know what their problem was but I am sure they will come back strongly in the next races, so we have to stay on our toes".

But in the second stint, after making a later pit stop than Vettel, Leclerc closed a 12-second gap to the four-time world champion before asking on the radio whether the team wanted him to hold position and not try to pass his team-mate.

Vettel added: "In Barcelona we were very happy with the vehicle from day one". Somehow that was lost past year.

"I guess we were just slow", Vettel said after the race.

Mercedes
Mercedes

The Australian smashed his front wing just metres after the race start and was forced to retire on lap 31, ending a forgettable home Grand Prix.

Bottas failed to win a race in 2018, struggling in the second half of the season when Mercedes put its weight behind Lewis Hamilton's ultimately successful title challenge against Sebastian Vettel. "It's difficult to grasp after a session like that exactly what happened but I'm very proud to be up here and very grateful for everyone who has worked so hard throughout the winter and there really couldn't be a better way to start the year".

But Verstappen has been left very impressed by the new-look Red Bull power unit: "I am very happy for the team and also for Honda to finish on the podium today".

Max Verstappen has hailed engine-supplier Honda following his third-place finish on Sunday in Melbourne, and the Japanese manufacturer's first-ever podium finish in the hybrid era.

"In this Ferrari it is possible", Leclerc smiled, but he also said he is not rushing. "I think it's going to be a really interesting season".

Verstappen was challenging Hamilton in the later laps and finished less than two seconds behind. "Right now we do not have an answer but I am sure we will find something because we know the auto is better than what we have seen". The key thing, for me, was the race start.

Whiting was at the Melbourne circuit on Wednesday but passed away overnight after suffering a pulmonary embolism.

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