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Ferrari in better shape than 2018: Vettel

14 March 2019

After an ultra-impressive winter, Ferrari are expected to be the quickest team when the new season begins in Melbourne.

His Ferrari arch-rival Sebastian Vettel swept home in an Australian thriller past year, getting a jump on Hamilton after Mercedes miscalculated a pit stop under virtual safety vehicle conditions.

Ferrari are displaying a calmness that will finally push them to glory this season, according to Ross Brawn. Mercedes stars Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas came on stage with team chief Toto Wolf, with the British driver snapped taking pictures of the supporters gathered in Melbourne.

Formula One's governing body, the FIA, is opposed to any advertising or sponsoring of cigarettes or tobacco, as are a number of countries staging races. I feel we have made improvements already and I'm confident we can be in a better shape.

"I think I've learned to take things a bit more relaxed and once you learn a bit more about yourself you tend to find those things that you want to do that you feel are best for you in terms of preparation, whether it's hanging out with friends, whether it's being 24/7 at the gym, finding the balance in your free time and fun stuff, work stuff, finding that balance, I've been able to fine tune it a bit and in general feel more relaxed about everything".

"What we see from testing, we think [we are underdogs]", Bottas told reporters in Melbourne.

"We are definitely in the fight and we know we have a strong team". "We're going to be kind of chasing".

While Ferrari are predicted to be the early-season frontrunners, the rest of the pecking order is far less well defined. "In terms of performance, it's hard to judge where we are".

"Our optimism is not unfounded", said Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko.

"It's always nice to start here in Australia but it will be a very long and tough season, so just being focused". So whoever is quickest this weekend, it doesn't really matter as long as it's close. Over the past two years, the way they've been able to improve the vehicle during the year has been pretty rapid, so for sure they're going to be a threat as well.

Some paddock analysts believe Ferrari, who will pair Charles Leclerc with Sebastian Vettel this year, could be as much as four-tenths of a second ahead for the Albert Park curtain-raiser. "I'm confident the auto will be better here [than in testing], but if it's enough, we'll find out".

Meanwhile Red Bull, powered by new Honda engines, have high hopes that Max Verstappen, who finished fourth in the drivers' standings previous year, can crash the Hamilton-Vettel party.

Ferrari in better shape than 2018: Vettel