Lewis Hamilton has admitted Mercedes have “got a race on our hands” in F1 2017 after being beaten by a resurgent Ferrari at the season-opening Australian GP.

F1’s new rules era began in fascinating fashion in Melbourne as Ferrari and Sebastian Vettel claimed their first win in 28 races as the combination of superior pace and pit strategy allowed the German to leapfrog early race leader Hamilton.

The Briton finished 10 seconds behind as Mercedes had to settle for second and third, with the world champions losing a race win for just the ninth time in the last 60 grands prix.

Hamilton had installed Ferrari, winter testing’s pacesetters, as the favourites for Melbourne, and although some had claimed it represented kidology from the triple champion, he insists he only called it as he saw it.

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“I don’t lie and I’m not very good at bluffing,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“I didn’t know how quick they would be in the race but their pace from testing was true and their first stint on the ultrasofts was fantastic. My real strength wasn’t until right at the end by which time it was far too late.”

Hamilton added: “We’ve got a race on our hands.”

Read more from SkySports.com.

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