Mercedes gives team orders to Bottas

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Having had to play second fiddle to Mercedes over the past three years, Ferrari now appear serious challengers for the title, with Sebastian Vettel winning the opening Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne.

"I went out in inters initially, on the laps to the grid, and then I tried the slicks and it was impossible, and then we all started on inters and it was very, very hard, because there was a lot of dry patches everywhere, mostly dry except for a couple of corners that were wet".

Knowing he would have to queue behind his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas at the first round of stops, Hamilton crawled into the pit lane, slowing down to just 35mph, in a ploy to prevent Daniel Ricciardo from getting past.

Despite issuing team orders in Bahrain in Lewis Hamilton's favour, Toto Wolff insists Mercedes will give both drivers "equal opportunity" - at least at the start of the race.

After the safety vehicle, Vettel came out in the lead where he remained after the next round of pit stops, despite an epic fight back from Hamilton after serving his penalty.

Sebastian Vettel is back on top of the Formula One standings and his Ferrari team is bursting with ambition again. "We need to improve the vehicle and our knowledge about the tyres so we can be in a better position in the next race". The last half of the in-lap with all the fireworks and the track was all lit up - I just love what I do - and I can't find any words.

The title looks destined to be contested between the four-time champion and Hamilton heading into the Russian Grand Prix, though the role of Bottas in the final reckoning is yet to be determined.

"We had the flawless storm at the beginning our generator broke on the grid and we couldn't bleed Valtteri's tyres, so it was the wrong tyre pressure on this vehicle", Wolff said.

By seeking not to give either driver any advantage over the other, Mercedes were unable to respond immediately and delayed their decision-making after Ferrari's early move to make an "under-cut" pit stop.

But despite Bottas moving aside for a second time, a charging Hamilton ran out of laps to catch his championship rival.

"I don't know why the pace is so poor". "We will regather as a team and come back fighting".

"For sure, I did it because there was potential that Lewis could challenge Sebastian", said Bottas.

Hamilton was now the new race leader, but with more than 20 laps to go, a time penalty still to take, and with Vettel on new tires, it was a precarious lead.

It was another shocking weekend for McLaren whose star driver Fernando Alonso had to retire due to auto trouble.

"That is the interesting question that we need to analyse at the moment and I don't want to pre-empt what the consequences will be, or if there will be consequences". Sainz was got two penalty points.

"In the race it's pretty evenly matched I would say".

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