Lewis Hamilton more determined than ever to win F1 title this season
From there the German never looked back, taking the chequered flag nearly 10 seconds clear to clinch Ferrari's first win since Singapore 2015, with team mate Kimi Raikkonen fourth.
Hamilton said such respect was mutual, and that it was an honour to potentially square off against the four-time champion for silverware this year.
"It's good to know that we have a great vehicle but it's just the beginning: new regulations, new generations of cars, so there will be a lot of progress".
Fact is, based on the evidence thus far, it is going to be a very, very hard slog for the pit crew and tacticians, for yesterday proved time and time again that much of the racing is going to mean endless frustration as drivers are forced to remain around 2s down on their rivals unable to get any closer due to the dirty air from the auto in front. "I hope it stays that way and then we'll see how it turns out, but it's obviously a lot of fun to race for victories and a lot of fun to race against the best". "As I said the last six months have been very calm, we've done our work and it's starting to pay off so I think obviously now it peaks and we're on top of this grand prix but that's a small achievement".
"I would much rather win than lose, but it is part of Formula One and we have had an exceptional run in the last three years".
"In Australia, there is a lot of Italian support and to have the team not challenging, let alone winning, would have been a huge disappointment for Ferrari and Ferrari fans around the world, so it's the best possible start for them really". This shows we've got a real race on our hands this season and it's a challenge we will relish.
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Hamilton, who could not pass Max Verstappen's Red Bull for four laps, believed the changes had cost him the chance to battle for first place.
"I wouldn't say I'm happy", Hamilton, 32, said.
Hamilton: "I'm going to get you back for that!"
Vettel was equally complimentary. Now it is about accepting that Ferrari beat us.
"We made the call to pit, because otherwise I think Sebastian would have come past me anyway".
Hamilton pitted on lap 17 and lost time behind Verstappen's vehicle when he emerged, with Vettel staying out for six more laps.
Hamilton won the start, leaving Vettel to chase him, but the Mercedes had consumed its ultrasoft Pirelli tyres after 17 laps, whereas Vettel managed to get his to the 22nd lap before making his sole pit stop.
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