Lewis Hamilton felt only “disbelief” after an almost certain victory under pristine Melbourne skies was derailed by a major Mercedes error, which team principal Toto Wolff attributed to a software malfunction. It was a painful setback for the four-time world champion to accept, as a miscalculation by his garage under virtual safety-car rules – imposed to limit speed when Romain Grosjean’s Haas stopped on track – allowed Sebastian Vettel to snatch the win away. For a team that has long prided itself on meticulousness, winning four straight constructors’ titles by virtue of obsession with detail, it was hardly the finest hour. Hamilton’s incredulity was best expressed by his radio exchange with race engineer Pete Bonnington, the moment he realised what had happened. “Why did you not tell me Vettel was in the pits?” he shouted. “We thought we were safe,” a chastened Bonnington replied. “But there was something wrong.” Too right there was: Ferrari had used their two-on-one advantage over Mercedes at the head of the field to fullest effect, bringing in Kimi Raikkonen early so that Hamilton would have to stop one lap later to counter his rivals’ superior performance on fresh tyres. The upshot? Vettel could nip into… Read full this story
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