Lewis Hamilton surprised by Mercedes speed in Melbourne

Lewis Hamilton
The Australian GP is live on BBC radio 5 live and online

Lewis Hamilton said he was surprised how good his Mercedes felt during Friday's practice at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton was 0.547 seconds clear of the field after a dominant performance and looks a strong favourite this weekend.

"I am on it and I plan to keep it that way, Hamilton said. "It is a wonderful feeling to have the car so strong coming into a new era."

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton was imperious in practice - way ahead of everybody

However, Hamilton cautioned against writing off Ferrari so early.

The Italian team impressed in pre-season testing and the former world champion labelled them as favourites going into the weekend.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was second quickest and he did beat Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas by 0.009secs.

Sebastian Vettel
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Hamilton said: "It feels amazing and that is surprising. I didn't know how it was going to be.

"The test was not spectacular so coming into today it was quite refreshing to have the car right where I needed it.

"I felt good in the car and I didn't even notice the cars being more physical, which is also a positive because I have trained so hard to be ready for this season.

"The Ferrari is obviously very strong and fast, they might not have the power turned up or whatever and we will see tomorrow, but it seems we are as strong, if not a bit stronger than them."


F1 has introduced new rules this season aimed at making the cars faster, more demanding and more dramatic.

The cars have met those targets but the competitive order appears not to have changed a great deal at this early stage.

Asked whether the gap between himself and Hamilton was representative, Vettel said: "I hope not. Overall it has been OK. The car doesn't yet feel as good as it should and it can so I am confident we will find something overnight.

"We were very happy in testing and the times look good but it doesn't mean anything.

"I am not that happy overall. The balance is not yet where I want it to be. It is not bad but I think we can do better.

"We see where it takes us on Saturday when everyone shows what they can do. Today it is still difficult to say. We had a mixed day but the team is doing well and there are lot of things we can improve."

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