Ferrari needed Melbourne triumph to send message to Mercedes, admits Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel said the team were "over the moon" after their success in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Victorious Vettel eager to revel in Melbourne triumph

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel said the team were "over the moon" after their success in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

An ecstatic Sebastian Vettel reflected on a "beautiful day" after winning the Australian Grand Prix, but suggested it was too early to start talking about a Ferrari world title challenge in 2017.

Vettel claimed victory in Melbourne on Sunday, after crucially passing pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton when the Mercedes driver found himself stuck behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen following his solitary pit stop.

Success for Vettel will raise hopes that Ferrari can offer a stern challenge to Mercedes this year, following a raft of regulation changes.

In a podium interview with former Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, Vettel said: "That is a long, long way ahead. For now I think we are just over the moon, we're just happy."

The German added: "It was a fantastic grand prix. I was coming back to the pits and there were people running on the track going wild with the Ferrari flags. It was unbelievable.

"I think, like you said, it's what we needed. The whole team has been working really hard - the guys didn't get much sleep here and back in the factory. The car is really behaving well, incredible fun to drive, so yeah - a beautiful day.

READ MORE: How Ferrari proved they are ready to challenge Mercedes stranglehold

READ MORE: Full race report from Australia as Vettel wins in Melbourne

"At the start I wasn't entirely happy ... I had a bit of wheelspin off the line. But after that I was really trying to keep the pressure on and get the message 'we are here, we are here to fight'.

"I obviously got a bit lucky when Lewis came out in traffic, but still we were hanging in there, the tyres were still good, the car was working, so excellent job."

Hamilton appeared frustrated on team radio throughout the race, but offered an upbeat assessment after finishing second, ahead of new team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

"Firstly a big congratulations to Ferrari and Sebastian - they did an amazing job this weekend. It's been a great weekend for us as a team, but just in the race [I had] trouble with the tyres towards the end," he said.

"I had to stop a lot earlier ... so I just ran out of grip. I pitted and I got stuck behind one of the Red Bulls, which is just sometimes the way it goes.

"Overall a great race, good points for the team."

Bottas, the replacement for retired world champion Nico Rosberg, impressed in the second half of the race and added: "Everything went nice and smoothly, just the red guys are a bit too quick, so that means we need to work harder.

"We are definitely ready for that, I am ready for that."

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