Lewis Hamilton felt his chances of winning the Australian Grand Prix were over by the first corner after he lost out to teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Starting from pole position, Hamilton suffered a poor getaway and saw Bottas get a clean run down the inside into Turn 1 to take the lead. The Finn pulled away with relative ease and was able to extend his opening stint when Hamilton had to pit to cover Sebastian Vettel, and the defending champion saw no chance of beating his teammate after dropping to second early on.
“Once we got to the first corner, it was pretty much done and dusted,” Hamilton said. “Then it was about bringing the car home and bagging the points.
“It’s been a good weekend for the team, so I have to be happy for everyone and a really fantastic job from everyone. Valtteri drove an incredible race today, so he truly deserved it. We’ve just got some work to do. Still, it’s a great, great start to the year — more than we could have hoped as a team.”
Mercedes later revealed that Hamilton had suffered floor damage at some stage in the race that will have hurt the balance of his car, but the five-time champion still says he views the result as a positive due to the team’s overall performance level.
“I don’t know if you can say it’s not been a great day for me. We still got a one-two as a team — it was an incredible achievement for us. We’ve come here into another era of adjustments to the regs and as a team we’ve collectively done an exceptional job.
“Valtteri did an incredible job today and I’m really, really happy for him; he fully deserves it. We move on — it will be a long season.
“I’m really proud of the work that everyone’s done and where we stand and I’m excited for the next races as we continue to grow together.”
With Ferrari impressing in pre-season, Hamilton reiterated Mercedes’ expectations that the Scuderia had a faster car heading to Melbourne and is wary of a quick response.
“No one was expecting to have a gap like that when we came into the weekend. What I was shown and was led to believe from the analysis that we were given was that they were ahead. It obviously wasn’t the case during this weekend.
“I’m not quite sure why their performance was how it was, but I wouldn’t say we particularly overdelivered. We did our normal job in the sense of our operations — the team did an exceptional job throughout the weekend. I don’t know what their problem was, but I’m sure they will come back strong in the next races so we’ve got to stay on our toes.”