Daniel Ricciardo 'Mobbed' By Fans Ahead of Melbourne Grand Prix

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Vettel's triumph has overturned early-season expectations and raised the prospect of a Ferrari-Mercedes battle for the world title over the remaining 19 races. "It was positive to see we weren't that far-off Ferrari and Mercedes over a full race distance".

Jolyon Palmer headed into his second season full of hope, but the 26-year-old from Horsham endured one of the worst weekends of his short career. Pretty happy in the end but so much with the opening of the lap where we lost a bit too much, but I think Lewis did a very good lap so. We won't panic, though.

The Brit was not happy when he was told by his race engineer that it was "race critical" that he passed the Red Bull driver. "Sebastian was able to always answer me in terms of lap time and just go quicker".

Bottas lapped in 1m 22.481s to go fastest. Michael Schumacher holds the fastest lap time for the circuit at 1:24.125, set in 2004. They dominated the race from beginning to end. "Third is not the best result but there is so much more to come".

After one day of the Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton has that feeling again.

"This shows we've got a real race on our hands this season and it's a challenge we will relish". Max Verstappen echoed his thoughts, and Bottas admitted that overtaking would prove a little more hard. And that factor hindered Hamilton's task of passing Vettel during the closing stages.

Hamilton's Mercedes struggled in pre-season testing in Spain, when Ferrari supposedly laid down a marker that they would gain ground on a team that has won the past three constructors' championships.

The Ferrari driver crossed the line 9.9s ahead of Lewis Hamilton to win his first race since the 2015 Singapore GP.

"For us the start into the new season was superb, we couldn't ask for more". "It was unbelievable", Vettel said on the podium.

"It feels good to just finally break the ice and do some driving", he said. We have to make sure that spectator safety, both from the track point of view and throughout the venue - and also the workers who will be loading up the freight tonight - is looked after. "I hope it turns out that way and we will see how it turns out but it's obviously a lot of fun to race for victories against the best".

"Right now it looks like we have equal machinery", Vettel said.

Daniel Ricciardo completed a mammoth 18 hours of media commitments in just one day last week, such is Australia's love for their home hero. "I'm looking forward to it. People are fired up and we're motivated".

The weekend setback continues Ricciardo's run of awful luck at his home Grand Prix, where he was disqualified from second place in 2014 for breaching fuel rules.