Sebastian Vettel is confident Ferrari heads into the new Formula 1 season in a stronger position than it was last year as he begins his bid to win a first title racing for the Scuderia. 

Vettel won the first two races of the 2018 season and took three pole positions in the opening four rounds, but lost out to Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in the season-long fight for the drivers’ championship.

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Ferrari arrives in Australia riding high after an impressive showing through pre-season testing, with Vettel ending the two weeks of running in Barcelona with the fastest time overall.

Asked if he felt Ferrari was in a better position than this time last year, Vettel said that despite the victorious start he made to last season, he believed the team was more prepared upon arrival in Australia this time around.  

"Yeah - quite frankly because I think last year’s winter testing didn’t go well for us, and we actually had some issues with the car to fix," Vettel said.

"Obviously we got a bit lucky during the race weekend with the safety car to grab the win. I think in this regard we’re more prepared. Our car seems to work fine, no problems at this stage.

"But having said that, obviously we can’t do better than last year’s result. It’s a tough weekend ahead of us, always at the start you are a bit nervous, you don’t know exactly where you are or what is going to happen.

"The spirit is good, the atmosphere is good, we’re happy to be here and start racing."

Ferrari has undergone a number of changes over the winter, including the appointment of a new team principal in Mattia Binotto, who took over from Maurizio Arrivabene, and Charles Leclerc’s promotion into a race seat as Vettel’s teammate.

The changes are hoped to have the desired effect of ending Ferrari’s ongoing title drought, which dates back to 2008. The last drivers’ title success came courtesy of Kimi Raikkonen back in 2007.

However, Vettel downplayed the importance of the early part of the season in relation to the fight for the drivers’ championship, saying he did not think the title would be won or lost in the opening set of races.

"I don’t think we will win it here and I don’t think we’ll lose it here," Vettel said.

"It’s a long way and hopefully we have a strong package, a strong team that carries us into a position at the end of the fight."

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