Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton starts the 2016 F1 season as favourites.Reuters

The Australian Grand Prix kicks-starts the 2016 Formula One season, and the anticipation has been building, with the first two practice session set to take shape Friday. The third practice session will be held Saturday.

The pre-season test in Barcelona was a good one for Ferrari, but they need to come up with an excellent performance if they are to challenge the defending champions Mercedes, who were on a league of its own last season. Mercedes won the constructors' championship with 703 points compared to Ferrari's 428.

One thing is for sure Ferrari are fast, but are they fast enough to beat Mercedes? There has been a marked improvement in their car, but it may not be right to make comparisons at present, may be the Australian Grand Prix results will give us an answer.

Ferrari's driver, Sebastian Vettel, is quite confident but is aware of the mighty task with Mercedes' drivers such as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton as major title contenders. The 2016 F1 season will be comparatively longer with 21 races this season. Last year, there were 19 races.

"We do have a pretty confident feeling – but we also know that the task we've set ourselves is fairly ambitious. There is no doubt that we will give it all," F1 official website quoted Vettel as saying.

"What I do believe is that we can be closer in the race than we were in the last races of 2015. With 21 races the season is extremely long – if I am right the longest season ever – so we do have a bit of time should the start not be one hundred percent perfect. But of course I hope that we will give the fans good battles."

Mercedes and Ferrari are always going to be talked in full length throughout the season as they are the top two teams in the F1, but other teams such as Red Bull, Force India and Sauber will be interesting to watch.

Force India were impressive last season, but they are keen to improve upon their last season's fifth place finish as well. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez will play a key role for Force India. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo will always be an exciting prospect.

It will be interesting to note F1 debutant team Haas' performance in the Australian Grand Prix.

Where to Watch Live (Australian Grand Prix practice session complete schedule)

First Practice Session (Friday): 12:30 p.m local time, 7 a.m. IST, 1:30 a.m. GMT

Second Practice Session (Friday): 4:30 p.m. local time, 11 a.m. IST, 5:30 a.m. GMT

Final Practice Session (Saturday): 2 p.m local time, 8 a.m. IST, 2:30 a.m. BST

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