Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s defending world champion Lewis Hamilton started the 2018 Formula One season opening Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne from pole position having set a new track record on Saturday.

In Sunday’s race however, the four time world champion lost the lead of the race to Ferrari’s Sebastien Vettel following his one and only pit-stop.

Hamilton was unable to get the better of Vettel and by the end of the race had fallen back behind Vettel and into the clutches of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen however Hamilton was able to stay ahead of the Iceman to finish the race in second place behind Vettel.

Speaking following the race Hamilton commented by saying:

I did everything I could today, but it’s not what anyone expected to happen. I’m still in a little bit of disbelief as I don’t really understand what happened yet. Once I get back with my engineers they’ll do a debrief and obviously I’ll find out why. This weekend there was so much talk about party mode or if Ferrari would be quick enough. I don’t think the gap was as big as it seemed yesterday, it’s just that I had a good lap and maybe Sebastian didn’t have a good lap. But today they were very, very quick. I put up a bit of a fight towards the end but they were within a tenth of us today. At least in my heart I know that I gave everything this weekend. I’m sure the team is feeling pain right now but we will regroup and we’ll work on it.

Valtteri Bottas started the race from 15th place having been forced to take a gearbox grid penalty following his crash during Q3 on Saturday. The Finn did a great job in the race however as he came through the field to finish in eighth place and speaking following the race he commented by saying:

It was a bit of a frustrating day. I got some points, but not as many as I was hoping for, even starting 15th on the grid. We had a good car, it felt just like in qualifying, the team did a really good job on that. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t make anything out of it because it is so difficult to overtake on this track. I also struggled a bit with overheating issues on the engine when I was following other cars, so I had to back off many times. It’s been a disappointing weekend and certainly not an ideal first race, but we still have 20 races to go. We need to learn from this weekend and try again in two weeks in Bahrain.

Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team boss Toto Wolff felt that the Australian Grand Prix was the one that got away from the Brackley based outift. Speaking following the race the Austrian commented by saying:

This was one that got away and it’s a bitter pill for us all to swallow. Following Lewis’ pit stop, we believed that we had the scenarios of both the Safety Car and the Virtual Safety Car covered, so that Sebastian could not pit and come out ahead of Lewis on track. We should have been several seconds safe, then suddenly saw on the TV screens that we were not. Of course, under the VSC sometimes you benefit and sometimes you lose out – but it was clearly a problem on our side and we need to analyse that to understand what happened and correct it. It’s all the more frustrating because we had the pace today to win. Lewis was in control through the opening stint, then after the pit stop as well, and looked on course for a strong victory but it wasn’t to be. On Valtteri’s side, we knew this would be a tough race to make up much ground. The margins between teams are closing up and this is one of the most difficult circuits to overtake on in the entire season. He made three passes on track, and benefited from the VSC too, but then was stuck in a DRS train in the final laps. Congratulations to Ferrari on their win today; for us, it’s a tough one to take, but there are lots of lessons to be learned so we can come back stronger next time.

Mercedes technical director James Allison felt that the team under delivered in Melbourne, saying:

Having come to Melbourne with high hopes, it will be a long journey home for us, knowing that we under-delivered as a team. The pace we saw during the weekend was promising for the season ahead but it counts for nothing if you don’t handle correctly the cards that the race can deal to you – and, today, we didn’t. We need to analyse our mistakes, correct them and we look forward to getting to the next race and starting to put things right.

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