Toto Wolff says the Australian Grand Prix was the “one that got away” after Sebastian Vettel jumped Lewis Hamilton during the virtual safety car period to triumph in Melbourne.
Hamilton had led from the start but when the virtual safety car came out to recover the stranded car of Romain Grosjean, it saw the Scuderia Ferrari driver leapfrog the Brit.
“This was the one that got away and it’s a bitter pill for us all to swallow.” Said Wolff. “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.
“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 meant to be.”
The other Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport car of Valtteri Bottas fought back from his qualifying mistake yesterday to rescue an eight-place finish.
“On Valtteri’s side, we knew this would be a tough race to make up much ground.” Said Wolff, “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.”