Toto Wolff conceded that Sebastian Vettel and Scuderia Ferrari were just the better team on the day at Albert Park after Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were resigned to finishing second and third on Sunday.
The Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport felt the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team were compromised by tyre issues during the early stages of the Australian Grand Prix that left them easy prey to Vettel during the pit stop cycle, and with the quicker car, it was Ferrari that took the first victory of the new season.
“Some races you win, some races you lose, and when the days come where another team has done a better job, you need to accept that with humility and recognise their performance,” said Wolff. “Today, Sebastian and Ferrari were well-deserved winners.
“From the early stages of the race, it was clear that Sebastian was very quick because Lewis wasn’t able to pull away. Sebastian came into the window where the undercut was possible and we had the feeling at that point that the tyres were not lasting.
“It was the team’s impression on the pit wall looking at the data and Lewis’ in the car, too. So that was when, with all the clear risks of coming out in traffic, we took the decision to come in. We were between a rock and a hard place, really, and we went for it. But Ferrari played it very well – and they had the quicker car today.”
Wolff said that both Hamilton and Bottas had improved performance once they had made the switch from the Ultrasoft tyre to the Soft tyre, but it is essential for the team to work out the reasons why they struggle in the initial stages on the softer compound.
“We seemed to pick up in performance on the Soft tyres,” said Wolff. “Lewis managed everything perfectly and I must compliment Valtteri, too – he showed really good pace, made no mistakes through the whole weekend and got his first podium with the team in his first race.
“Now, the job for us is to learn the lessons from this race, understand why we didn’t perform to our maximum today and keep working hard to improve the car in every area.”