Lewis Hamilton has said that he never really felt threatened as he led the Australian Grand Prix from start to finish to open his F1 title defence in perfect fashion.

Despite brief concerns about the bite point of his clutch as he left on the formation lap, the Briton was able to make a good getaway when the lights went out and held off Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg into turn one. From there, Hamilton appeared able to control the race at will, reacting to Rosberg's fastest laps with one of his own as he maintained a gap between 1.5 and 3.5secs.

"Once you get a two-second gap, you try to manage that - there's no point trying to eke out more - but, when Nico turned up the heat, I was able to react, which was good," the world champion noted, "Nico was really quick throughout the race and it was really trying to manage the fuel and the tyres, not really knowing where the limit of the tyres is going to be in terms of how far they are going to go.

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"Otherwise, it was a phenomenal race for both of us. Nico drove really well - and obviously Sebastian [Vettel] must have done a good job to be where he is today."

Vettel's third place underlined Ferrari's bid to be 'best of the rest' after superior strategy saw off the lone Williams of Felipe Massa in the battle for the final podium spot, and Hamilton admitted that it was the Scuderia he felt Mercedes most needed to keep an eye on as the season progressed.

Asked whether he felt the 2015 campaign was already a two-horse race between himself and Rosberg, the Briton refused to accept that Mercedes would not be challenged.

"I've not seen the times or anything, but I think Ferrari have taken a huge step forward," he insisted, "They have taken one of the biggest steps, so we can definitely not back off as I am sure they're pushing and I anticipate we might have a good fight with them."

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Liam48: Nico needs to step up his game, if not Hamilton will romp away with the championship and i seriously think Hamilton will.

This is becoming the most boring generation of F1 i've EVER witnessed![\blockquote]

No, it was 2002-2004 when Ferrari and Michael Schumacher totally dominated the sport by Rubens Barrichello not being allowed to race him in a car so much faster than any other (2003 Williams BMW excepted).

And well said Danyboy!

@liam48
can I ask if that was your same mantra when Schumacher / Ferrari had a one horse championship for 5 years.... don't get me wrong I like to see RACING and OVERTAKING too, but it gets pretty boring whoever dominates the top step it's just an easier pill to swallow when its your favourite driver !!!!

hmm, it was a dominant 4 years irrespective of how many seconds a lap but still just as boring

@ tomco, I'd have to disagree about the 'likeable' and modest, he wasn't that likeable towards his teammates was he ? dominance is dominance whatever the personality it just makes it easier to accept if the driver is a favourite, but that aside, LH did look a complete cult with his great big fook off gold chain imo, but he drove a dominant race with 25 points in the bag, Nico will need to come back stronger in Malaysia

fair play Liam, DR managed it 3 times last year so let's keep the faith