March 19, 2019

Vettel feels Ferrari "spirit is right"

14 March 2019, 11:42 | Anna Jefferson

F1: 2019 Australian Grand Prix Preview

Ricciardo left frustrated after issues in practice on Renault debut

A Scuderia Ferrari spokesman previously told AFP the team expected to return to using the Mission Winnow logo at the Bahrain Grand Prix, the second race of the season, in late March.

But Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas countered: "As a team we've learned a lot from the package we had in testing and how we can optimise it better for the first race".

Mercedes and Ferrari are tipped to engage in what could be one of the tightest title battles in recent history, ahead of a midfield scrap that is shaping up to be even more unpredictable than last season.

"I hope that this year we get to have a lot of fun".

The new season boasts a host of driver changes throughout the grid and only two of the ten teams have relied upon last seasons drivers to deliver the goods.

"We've got the best team around us".

The Italian outfit parted company with former team principal Maurizio Arrivabene in late 2018 after four years of service, promoting technical director Mattia Binotto to succeed him as Ferrari boss.

Ferrari have endured a torrid decade, having not won the drivers' championship since Kimi Raikkonen lifted the trophy in 2007, or the constructors' since 2008. "We have experience, it's no coincidence that we are world champions so we have to be diligent and stay balanced", said Hamilton, who has won twice in Melbourne.

"That's obviously what we want but at this point it is very far away".

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.

"My last Formula One race was in Abu Dhabi 2010, so I am looking forward to going to Australia with a few things to cover and learn". 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. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) was a stand-in at two Grand Prix for Sauber in 2017, but is embarking on his first full season. 'So far, the spirit is right, the team is on track, the vehicle feels good so let's see how we start the year.' Hamilton, meanwhile, is braced for a scrap.

A new set of aero regulations have also been introduced, featuring simpler front wings and brake ducts, in a bid to improve the quality of racing.

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