Berger thinks Mercedes still ahead

Gerhard Berger says it is too soon to declare Ferrari the favourite for the 2017 world championship.

The Austrian legend spent two stints during his career driving for the great Italian marque, which ended a season-long winning drought with a win in Melbourne.

But Berger told the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV that Mercedes is still very much in the hunt.

"After just one race on a city circuit such as Melbourne, it's always difficult to assess the pecking order properly," he said.

"What I say is that we have to wait three races to get a clearer picture," Berger added.

"But for me it is clear that Ferrari has made a big leap forward, which surprised me.

"I currently see Mercedes ahead in qualifying, and maybe less in the race. But this was more to do with circumstances. I believe Mercedes has maintained a lead.

"But of course, as fans we all hope that the top three teams will all be together, and then we will watch a great world championship," Berger said.

Meanwhile, Berger rebuked Lewis Hamilton for the Briton's recent slight against now-retired reigning world champion Nico Rosberg.

Berger said Hamilton was unfair to have said in Australia that his new head-to-head with Vettel battle is finally "the best against the best".

"I'm sorry, but what Lewis said is of course nonsense," Berger, who last year negotiated a new contract for Rosberg, said.

"In formula one there are a number of drivers like Ricciardo, Verstappen and Rosberg who are all at the top, top level. It's not just about Lewis and Sebastian," he said.

(GMM)

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