In Brief

F1: Mercedes ace Lewis Hamilton expects Ferrari to bounce back

Williams must treat Australia as a ‘test session’ and Fernando Alonso invests in esports racing platform

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has warned his Mercedes team that Ferrari will bounce back from their disappointing weekend at the Australian Grand Prix.

Mercedes celebrated a one-two in Melbourne with Hamilton finishing second behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the first race of 2019.

After an impressive pre-season Ferrari struggled in Melbourne. Despite being the favourites to set the pace the Scuderia had to settle for fourth- and fifth-place finishes for Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.

When asked about Vettel and Leclerc finishing nearly a minute behind winner Bottas, Hamilton admitted he was surprised by the gap.

The British driver told Sky Sports: “Everyone is, probably. No one was expecting to have a gap like that when we came into the weekend.

“Honestly, what I was shown and led to believe from the analysis we were given, was that they were ahead. It obviously wasn’t the case during this weekend and I’m not quite sure why their performance was how it was.

“I wouldn’t say we particularly over-delivered, we did our normal job in the sense of our operations, and the team did an exceptional job throughout the weekend.

“I don’t know what their [Ferrari’s] problem was. I’m sure they’ll come back strong in the next races so we’ve got to stay on our toes.”

Russell: Australia was a test session

After propping up the constructors’ standings in 2018 it was another disappointing weekend for the Williams team. George Russell finished 16th in Melbourne while his team-mate Robert Kubica was one spot behind in 17th.

British driver Russell, who was making his F1 debut, has taken some positives from the season-opener and says that Williams must treat the race as a “test session” after a tough winter.

The 21-year-old told F1.com: “We’ve just got to treat these as test sessions because we’re so far behind, and we’ve just got to understand it and almost try things to see what works and see what doesn’t, because for now it doesn’t really make much sense to try and optimise everything when we are that far off the pace.”

Alonso invests in esports

SportsPro Media reports that former F1 star Fernando Alonso has invested in Motorsport Games - an esports venture owned by Miami-based Motorsport Network.

Spanish driver Alonso, a two-time F1 world champion, said: “Esport is no longer a fantasy, it’s a reality and something I have been passionate about for some time.

“Investing in, and helping to lead Motorsport Games will allow me to make a real contribution to this exciting aspect of motorsport’s future.

“Esport is not better or worse, but it is different and one of the important distinctions is that it provides a way to open up motor racing to the fans.”

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