Lewis Hamilton doesn't expect the Australian Grand Prix to be a straight fight between himself and team-mate Nico Rosberg.
The two Mercedes cars were split by Daniel Ricciardo during qualifying at Albert Park, but with Red Bull still having issues with the Renault engine – and Renault itself saying it's not in a position to win
– Mercedes looks a strong favourite for victory on Sunday. However, Hamilton dismissed any notion that the race is likely to be a straight fight between the two Mercedes cars, pointing out that completing a race distance is still difficult for every team.
“Tomorrow the race is to finish the race,” Hamilton said. “Everyone still has the challenge; Daniel was saying [Red Bull] haven't finished a race simulation yet. We have, but still those race simulations were not the easiest. So tomorrow is going to be a challenge for fuel, it's going to be a challenge for tyres, it's all going to be a learning process for us and so by no means do I feel it's going to be easy.”
And Hamilton also explained why he was not going to make bold predictions about what Mercedes can achieve this season.
“You guys were hyping us up constantly and I think for us as a team it's always important to keep our expectations low, it's a sensible approach … We're really just trying to keep our feet on the ground and take it one step at a time. Of course as we come here, it's just incredible to see the car come together. To be able to drive it and have the performance we have so far is a true showing of how strong this team really is and where it's going.”
Asked if securing pole position was a result he had expected, Hamilton was keen to praise Mercedes for the strength of the car that it has built for this season.
“I've just done my job but I think the team have just exceeded expectations. They've done an exceptional job to put this car together and the progress we've made is really remarkable. I'm massively proud of everyone.”