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Hamilton had "extra tools" to avoid Vettel defeat

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Hamilton had "extra tools" to avoid Vettel defeat
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Mar 25, 2018, 12:05 PM

Lewis Hamilton had the "extra tools" needed to keep clear of Sebastian Vettel had Mercedes not misjudged the gap it required during the Australian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H, Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H, and the rest of the field at the start
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, makes a pit stop
Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H leads Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W09
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 W09, Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF71H, and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF71H

Vettel jumped from third to first in the 2018 Formula 1 season opener with a later pitstop taken while Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen lapped slowly during a virtual safety car period.

During a VSC, drivers must keep above minimum sector times mandated via the FIA's control ECU. A pitstop under VSC conditions is less costly because the speed disparity between the pitlane limit and cars on track is lower.

Hamilton had closed the gap to Vettel to 11.614 seconds when the VSC was deployed, which Mercedes thought was enough to ensure it would reclaim the lead when the Ferrari pitted.

It only realised its calculation was wrong when Vettel emerged from the pits in front.

"They don't fully understand it still, so they couldn't give me an exact reason as to why it was the way it was," said Hamilton. "So, I can't really say how I feel about it.

"It's never easy to lose a grand prix but there were so many positives to take from this weekend.

"In the race I had extra tools, I could have been further ahead by the first pitstop.

"There were so many good things we could have done, but if one thing is telling you one thing, and you think you're doing it to the book, within the limits, then there's nothing you can do."

Watch our 60s video report of the race...

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff agreed that Hamilton had pace in reserve.

"I think we would have been able to, yeah," he said when asked if the gap could have been made bigger.

"Lewis knew that he needed to make it to the end on the tyre and drove to the target, and we probably would have had the gap."

Hamilton said he would prefer to be racing in an era that did not rely on technology so much.

He also stressed that the negativity of the result should not overshadow a strong weekend.

"I wish it was more in my hands, because I feel like I was driving as good as ever today," he said.

"Everyone in the team is feeling it, but there's so much great work, there's so much positivity to take forward with us.

"We still got second today. It feels like a dark cloud, but it's still a positive result.

"We've got a great car, we are still the world champions, and with a couple of adjustments we can win the next race. I believe that."

Additional reporting by Adam Cooper

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