Lewis Hamilton suggested that Mercedes' eye-catching performance in Friday practice for the Australian Grand Prix was not a major improvement on their running during pre-season testing in Barcelona – putting an eight-tenths advantage to their rivals Red Bull and Ferrari into some context.
Hamilton topped both timesheets in Melbourne as Mercedes seemed to start the season on the front foot, although it is likely that Ferrari in particularly did not show their true hand.
After finishing fourth fastest, Vettel labelled Mercedes' pre-season claims that they would be trailing Ferrari as "bullshit".
However, Hamilton brushed off the notion of sandbagging in Barcelona, claiming that the Silver Arrows enjoyed a similar level of output across both events.
"It's really nice to get back out on track," Hamilton said.
"The weather is fantastic, we've already got quite a big crowd. I have a positive buzz from driving the car today - this is what I love doing.
"The car feels like it's in a similar place to where it was in Barcelona, which is positive coming to a different track.
"We got through our programme really well, there were no issues on track. There's plenty of stuff that we can improve on, but this was not a bad start.
"What we have to do now is really study and analyse everything, as we always do on a Friday night.
"But the fact is we've got two cars that continue to go around, none of us made a mistake and we kept the cars in one piece - that counts for a lot."