Hamilton: We've got a race on our hands

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Lewis Hamilton is relishing the challenge Mercedes look set to face from Ferrari in 2017 after Sebastian Vettel claimed victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton started from pole in Melbourne, but lost the lead to Vettel after getting stuck in traffic following his solitary pit stop.

From the moment Vettel emerged from his own stop ahead of the Briton, success for the former Red Bull driver never looked in doubt.

"I executed the strategy that I had. I only stopped a lap earlier than my normal target, but I couldn't go any further. I had basically used up all the money that I had in those tyres," Hamilton told Sky Sports.

"I think there's things we'll have to change for the next time to make it better, but yeah, it's great - we've got a race on our hands."

Hamilton had talked up Ferrari's chances ahead of the race and said: "I don't lie and I'm not really good at bluffing or playing poker.

"I didn't really know how quick they were going to be in the race. The pace they obviously showed in testing was true and today their speed, particularly in that first stint on the ultra-soft tyres, was fantastic.

"My real strength wasn't until right at the end of the race, but it was far too late by then."

After being told it was race-critical for him to pass Max Verstappen after pitting, Hamilton replied over team radio: "I don't know how you expect me to do that right now. There's no way of getting past this guy."

Reflecting on how tough it was to overtake in the first race after a host of regulation changes, the three-time world champion said: "I hope that doesn't mean for the rest of the year that it's more of a train.

"I don't know if it was exciting for you guys to watch, but for me personally I want to be closer up with cars and more close, wheel-to-wheel battling.

"It's really through strategy, through pit-stops, that we're racing right now."