Mercedes wary of Ferrari threat in Melbourne F1 race

Mercedes still fears that Ferrari will put it under pressure in the Australian Grand Prix, despite a surprisingly large buffer to its main Formula 1 rival in qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton's pole position time was eight tenths of a second faster than third quickest Sebastian Vettel was able to manage, and seemed to fly in the face of suggestions Ferrari had closed the gap over the winter.

But a combination of Vettel not having improved with a second run in Q3 – whereas Hamilton had gone three tenths quicker – plus questions about Ferrari's engine not delivering to its maximum have left Mercedes wary about what is to come.

When asked if he was surprised by the advantage over Ferrari, Hamilton said: "I wouldn't say I had been surprised.

"I think I wasn't lying yesterday when I said I thought the Ferraris were looking really good. I looked at some of their laps and I was expecting them to be a lot closer. It is a positive.

"I am conscious that the gap looks the way it is right now, but if Sebastian had gone out again, he would have improved on his lap. Most likely by a couple of tenths. So it is closer than you think but it is still a decent gap right now for us.

"Then I think in the race, they are naturally slightly closer by a tenth or two. I think tomorrow in the race they will perhaps be even closer than they were today, but I might be wrong."

Rosberg: Ferrari "always quicker" in races

Nico Rosberg, who lines up alongside Hamilton on the front row, echoed Hamilton's comments about the situation not showing a true picture right now.

"It is not real because we had two runs and they only had one run," said Rosberg, "and Sebastian was really compromised on his qualifying as he only had one tyre left in Q3 and he had to make that stick.

"That is a different situation than us, where we are easy going and just take some risks out there.

"So let's be careful. But yes, it has surprised us today and we are very happy about that gap at the moment, even though I was looking forward to the battle to Ferrari.

"It is still there, it is one day today, and tomorrow we know that Ferrari is always quicker in the race than qualifying. So let's hold our horses and see how it goes tomorrow."

Derated engine

Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff also believed that a factor that could not be ignored was the fact that Vettel's engine appeared to be 'derated' (when electrical power runs down) in qualifying.

"For me qualifying was overall quite interesting because the gaps were bigger than expected and then on that second run in Q2, they actually had a pretty decent lap," he said.

"They weren't running at all after the first run in Q3. We see some derating of the engine, much more than last year, but we don't know what is happening within that car.

"So my personal opinion is that you see that potential in that car. We see the threat in that car. But they haven't been able to fully translate that into lap time."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Australian GP
Track Albert Park Circuit
Drivers Lewis Hamilton , Nico Rosberg , Sebastian Vettel
Teams Mercedes , Ferrari
Article type Breaking news