Australian Grand Prix – Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff says that losing the victory in Melbourne is ‘hard to take’ after Hamilton fell behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel under Virtual Safety Car conditions.
Hamilton had held the lead through the first stint of the race, ahead of the other Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen. When the Finn pitted first, Hamilton followed suit and emerged in P2 behind Vettel. The German driver was planning a longer first stint and was enjoying a thirteen second lead when the Virtual Safety Car conditions were issued. This was due to the Haas of Romain Grosjean stopping on track exiting Turn 2.
With every driver having to slow down to a set pace, determined by delta times between different points on the race track, Vettel was able to pit and get back out on track just ahead of Hamilton, who was unable to drive at normal speed down the main straight.
Vettel, now armed with fresher tyres, was able to hold onto the lead and take a win which had looked nailed on for Hamilton.
“It’s very hard to take because we had the pace. For whatever reason, we need to find out, we lost the win.” said a reflective Toto Wolff afterwards.
“We thought we had about three seconds margin [over Vettel]. I don’t know what happened to them, we need to ask the computers and that’s what we are doing at the moment. Whether we had a software problem somewhere, we need to fix it.”
“I think the problem is within our systems. I think we have a bug somewhere that said 15 seconds is what you need, we had 12, it should have been enough but it wasn’t.”
“He was attacking flat out but you can see the overtaking is pretty bad here. Even the mega overtakers couldn’t make a pass. Lewis had to give up because the tyres wouldn’t have made it to the end.”