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Nico: Ferrari are a real threat

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Nico Rosberg expects Ferrari to push Mercedes again at the Bahrain GP and says it's clear that the constructors' champions face a huge challenge this season. 

The Silver Arrows took control of qualifying at the season-opener in Melbourne but fell behind Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in the race, only for red flags and technical issues to scupper the Scuderia's day. 

Rosberg and Hamilton eventually secured a one-two at Albert Park but Vettel's pace in third gave the German, who has never won in Bahrain, enough of an indication that Mercedes have to raise their game if they are to celebrate more titles.

"We've stepped up our game once again with a fantastic car," Rosberg said. "But Ferrari were a real threat all weekend in Melbourne and it's clear that we've got a big battle on our hands, so we have to keep pushing very hard.

"It's Bahrain next - a track which always seems to provide entertainment for me! I've had some great battles there in the last two years with Lewis and also the Ferraris, so I'm expecting more of the same this time and very much looking forward to that.

"It was great to win the first race - but the aim is to come out on top at every step of the way this season, starting this weekend. There's a long way to go..."

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Toto Wolff echoed Rosberg's concerns about their rivals' pace, indicating the high-power, high-braking circuit in the desert could play into Ferrari's hands.

The Mercedes' chief said: "We have made a solid start to the season. However, while our advantage in Melbourne was a healthy one, it was nevertheless close enough that those bad starts could easily have lost us the race.

"Bahrain is a track that should suit Ferrari, so we expect even smaller gaps and a very close match this weekend. "

Hamilton has been critical of the F1 rule-makers since the start of the campaign, most recently claiming that the plans to make cars faster will not provide better racing for drivers or fans.

But team-mate Rosberg has one line of praise for those responsible for a new-to-2016 clampdown.

"The new radio rules make things quite a big challenge," he said. "It's tough out there - and for me it's a good direction we've taken, giving the drivers more responsibility.

"The important thing is whether it's what the fans want to see, so we need to listen to them."

The Bahrain GP weekend is live on Sky Sports F1. The race begins at 4pm on Sunday April 3, with build-up underway from 2.30pm.

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