Lewis Hamilton remains confident of championship success despite early setback

LEwis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

GETTYLewis Hamilton got stuck behind Max Verstappen in a crucial phase of the race

"At least we have a great driver in Sebastian with his four titles, [who had] an incredible surge into Formula 1, continues to be a force and will continue to be for many years to come". At right is Mercedes driver Valtter.

Sunday's victory came 10 years after Ferrari won its last race in Melbourne, when the Finn Kimi Raikkonen was the last Ferrari driver to win the World Championship in 2007.

Next up on the calendar is the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai in a fortnight.

After a raft of regulation changes over the winter, Ferrari impressed in pre-season testing as Vettel and Raikkonen both peppered the top of the leaderboard.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Sebastian Vettel broke Ferrari's Formula One drought with a victory over the Mercedes team of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas on Sunday at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen was fifth for Red Bull, which only got one auto to the finish and struggled to match the pace of Ferrari and Mercedes, which both notched lap records at Albert Park in practice and qualifying. Hamilton was nonetheless still eager to take on the Ferrari driver who won four world titles with Red Bull between 2010 and 2013.

"Indeed today's win reflects all the effort and hard work put in over the past few months", Arrivabene said. "We're here, we're here to fight".

"Overall a great race, good points for the team".

"Once we put the soft tyres on, the vehicle turned to be very good and I was very happy - but obviously at that point we were pretty much in nowhere land".

Fans should delight in this news, as the season past year was completely dominated by Mercedes.

Mercedes made one mistake during the race, and that cost Hamilton this race.

From there the German never looked back, taking the chequered flag nearly 10 seconds clear to clinch Ferrari's first win since Singapore 2015, with team mate Kimi Raikkonen fourth.

For him, this is the 43rd win in career and fourth with Ferrari.

When asked whether Hamilton believed this year would be tougher than 2016 and his test against the now retired Nico Rosberg, he responded: "Definitely".

Hamilton won the start, leaving Vettel to chase him, but the Mercedes had consumed its ultrasoft Pirelli tyres after 17 laps, whereas Vettel managed to get his to the 22nd lap before making his sole pit stop. At the start, Lewis Hamilton led and looked solid, edging ahead, gaining here, losing there.

He added: "I have great respect (for Hamilton)". Congratulations to Sebastian and Ferrari. "I know it's been a long time coming for them to get a result like this".

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