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"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".

"It was about time", Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne said after the Melbourne race - his words echoing the thoughts of the legions of Tifosi fans around the world.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen took fourth ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen, while Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo crashed out in the final Q3 session.

They were able to match Mercedes for pace during pre-season testing and after the Australian Grand Prix, Mercedes team Chief Niki Lauda admitted that Ferrari were quicker.

The winning driver added that he was prepared for Hamilton's counter-attack towards the end of the Grand Prix, "but it never came".

Vettel, who joined Ferrari in 2015 after four successive titles with Red Bull, has 43 career wins to Hamilton's 53 and is well placed to close the gap.

"As for Sebastian, he did a great job, as did the whole team in fact".

This forced the team to call a pit stop on the 18th, a lap earlier than originally planned.

Mercedes beaten. Ferrari victorious.

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"Yesterday we suffered a bit with understeer on the auto and it was a similar story on the first set of tyres", Raikkonen said after the race.

Over the past three years, triple world champion Hamilton has had only his teammate, the now-retired 2016 title victor Nico Rosberg, and reliability to worry about with Mercedes winning 51 of 59 races up to Melbourne. "Sebastian is a well-deserved race victor".

The first race of the 2017 Formula One season saw Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel come out on top and this win also marked Ferrari's first win in nearly two years.

Rosberg's departure from the sport made room for Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes - and the Finn had to settle for third place on the podium in Melbourne. Ricciardo's day started badly and kept getting worse as he got a grid penalty, missed the start after a mechanical failure in the warmup, and then retired after 28 laps.

"We've prepared well. Hopefuly we can have a good launch", Vettel said.

"It's very straightforward: Ferrari were quicker".

Reliability problems were rife in other teams, however, with seven cars failing to finish, including McLaren's twice champion Fernando Alonso and Williams' Canadian debutant Lance Stroll. "After the race is always easier, when you rewind and say what we could've done better", said Mercedes boss Wolff.

But Hamilton, who boarded a flight back from Melbourne in the hours after Sunday's curtain raiser - with his residence in Monte Carlo the apparent next stop - insists his motivation is at an all-time high.


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