After a weekend in which Mercedes took pole position but Ferrari the race win, both teams admit this year’s races could be decided by “small margins.”
The 2017 season began with an intriguing battle between Ferrari and Mercedes in Melbourne with Lewis Hamilton claiming pole position three-tenths of a second over Vettel.
It was, however, the German who had the stronger car in the 57-lap grand prix, racing to the victory by 9.9s over Hamilton.
The result left Ferrari stating that this could be a season in which the “slightest things” affect the outcome.
“It’s on the track that you reap the rewards of your collective efforts over the winter,” said Ferrari’s technical director Mattia Binotto.
“It was a busy period during which everyone doubled their energy and effort.
“We still have 19 challenges ahead of us and the race shows how the slightest thing can make the difference between being in front or being behind.
“Therefore, we must continue to push as hard as possible on development.”
But it is not just Ferrari who believe this season’s battles could be decided by the smallest of margins.
Mercedes technical director James Allison, who previously worked with Ferrari, said: “If it wasn’t already clear after qualifying, then it’s certainly clear now that this is going to be a season of very small margins.
“We got a good getaway from the flag. But credit to Ferrari, they had a very quick car and we just weren’t quite good enough to stick with them.
“We won’t panic, though. It’s race one of a long season and we scored some very good points with both cars. We’ll be determined to come back stronger in China and make sure those small margins go our way next time.”
Even those watching on from the outside are predicting an intense fight through to the season’s final chequered flag.
Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost said: “The race itself was interesting, as it was Ferrari who won, with Mercedes finishing close behind. I think this will become a very interesting fight throughout the whole year.”