Hamilton welcomes "best against best" rivalry with Vettel


It's eighteen months since Vettel last won a race, but he won this race with a auto that looked to be quicker than the Mercedes, and cunning that outwitted the German team. It's going to be great for the fans.

Four-time world champion Vettel and Hamilton - who has three titles - appear to be relishing the track battles ahead. "But for sure today I'm just happy we take it as a team, and we saw the guys smiling and singing".

"This year we have the best drivers at the front", said Hamilton.

Ferrari head the constructors' stakes with 37 points to Mercedes' 33, as Red Bull have 10, Williams eight, Force India seven and Toro Rosso six.

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.

"I'm looking forward to that".

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Hamilton retained his lead in the early part of the race from Ferrari driver Vettel, only for the German to turn in a sequence of quick laps ahead of the first round of pit stops. Valtteri Bottas finished his first race with the Silver Arrows down in third, yet the performance could not take the shine off Vettel's first race win for 18 months. "We need to understand why we didn't have the pace at the beginning of the race in these conditions and improve from there". "We have been very fortunate in the last three years that we've won most of our races - now it is about accepting that Ferrari have beaten us".

"That's motor racing", Hamilton said of the hold-up, adding it was his decision to pit and change tires.

Wolff was also convinced Ferrari had the quicker vehicle and saw testing times ahead for a team that has largely raced itself for three years.

"For now, we're just over the moon", four-time world champion Vettel said.

Hamilton ought still to have been able to regain the lead, but he came out of the pits behind Max Verstappen's fifth placed Red Bull, and simply could not pass it despite running on fresher rubber. "But, honestly, I can't tell you which was the quicker auto today, because I don't think either of them saw the opportunity to really pile on the pressure". I don't know. Sebastian could have attempted the undercut at any stage and it could have come out the same way. There seems to be an extra passion just working for the Prancing Horse and, I think, just focusing on ourselves really has been the big difference.

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