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News18 » Formula One
1-min read

Mercedes duo expect front row battle in Australia

Hamilton expects qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix to be another fierce battle with Rosberg after being shaded by a tenth of a second by the German during practice.

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Updated:March 13, 2015, 3:41 PM IST
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Mercedes duo expect front row battle in Australia
Hamilton expects qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix to be another fierce battle with Rosberg after being shaded by a tenth of a second by the German during practice.

Lewis Hamilton expects qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix to be another fierce battle with Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg after being shaded by a tenth of a second by the German during practice on Friday.

Mercedes enjoyed the perfect start to the new Formula One season, with world runner-up Rosberg pipping champion Hamilton in both sessions, as rival drivers struggled with reliability problems at Albert Park.

"I would imagine it will be as tight as it always is," Hamilton, wearing dark sunglasses, told reporters. "It's always going to be between us."

Though daylight separated Mercedes from the rest, with Rosberg over seven-tenths of a second quicker than third-placed Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel, both Hamilton and his team-mate had their complaints.

Both bemoaned the bumpy state of the Melbourne street circuit, which saw drivers struggle with their settings and occasionally spin off the track.

Rosberg hailed a "great day" for the team but said he was yet to find the "balance" of his car.

"Long runs were okay but on short runs, there was much too much over-steer," the German said. "It's very risky to drive. There's a bit too much of that so we have to work on that."

"The track is difficult, very bumpy, a lot of kerb-riding. It's a special challenge."

The pair raffled 16 out of 19 race wins last season, with only Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo standing in the way of their complete dominance.

Their rivalry lit up the championship but was also combustible and led to lost points at Spa in Belgium last year when the pair collided in an easily avoidable incident.

Hamilton openly questioned whether he could ever trust his team-mate again but in the leadup to Albert Park, Rosberg said the pair had a "basic respect" for each other to keep the relationship healthy.

The Briton praised the Mercedes garage as "amazing" for bringing a fast car to Friday practice but was almost gloomy as he mouthed the words, as if being edged by his main rival on the opening day of the season cut him deep.

Rosberg was more ebullient but expected no quarter from Hamilton during qualifying.

"With Lewis it's super-close and it's just going to be a battle all the way, I suppose," he said.

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