Hamilton Talks Up Ferrari For F1 Curtain-Raiser

Formula One has moved up a gear for the new season with new cars, new drivers and new expectations.

The flag goes up on the 2017 F1 Championship in Melbourne, Australia, this weekend.

Of course, the hopes and dreams of everyone but Mercedes may soon be shattered if Lewis Hamilton and his new wingman, another flying Finn Valtteri Bottas late of Williams.

Hamilton is the magic that makes Mercedes win.

He is a born winner and his consistent results make him one of the top drivers of all time.

New cars, new owners

Retired Nico Rosberg may have won the title for Mercedes last season, but he was few points ahead of Hamilton, who lost out more due to engine failure than lack of talent.

This year, new longer, lower and wider cars are on the track.

For the first time in almost a decade, even Mercedes are talking up the new Ferrari as the fastest and best handling car in the competition. Then they would, wouldn’t they, as this moves the pressure off Hamilton and Bottas on to the Italian team.

Ferrari have a record of a slick pre-season that fails to deliver when it counts.

Nevertheless, even Hamilton has dubbed them ‘favourites’.

Mercedes believe Bottas is the nearest driver they could buy as a like-for-like Rosberg replacement.

Is Bottas good enough to regularly take the chequered flag ahead of Hamilton?

Battle of egos

Probably not. For Mercedes, this may bring some relief in the battle of the egos between Hamilton and Rosberg. Both are champions. Both were almost as good as each other. Bottas is an unknown quantity yet to prove himself at the top level in F1.

Elsewhere, McLaren-Honda looks dodgy with seven engine failures, compared to one at Ferrari and none at Mercedes.

The quality of team drivers is a pointless comparison if their car cannot finish a race.

But the big change for F1 is the demise of Bernie Ecclestone. New owners Liberty have flagged changes are on the way, but exactly what they intend to do remains under wraps for the moment.

The smart money is on Hamilton and Mercedes despite everyone talking up Ferrari. Less of a procession and more competition would be good, but whether the sport will deliver more racing thrills this term is doubtful.

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