Hamilton denies being disappointed with second in Melbourne

 f1i.com  3/17/2019 8:19:17 AM   Andrew Lewin

Lewis Hamilton is the acknowledged master of Melbourne in qualifying, but when it comes to the race itself it seems that victory just keeps slipping through the five-time world champion's fingers.

Last year Hamilton was pipped to the win by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel. This time it was his own Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas who got the jump on him at the start and disappeared into the distance.

Hamilton successfully fended off Red Bull's Max Verstappen to keep hold of second place to the finish, and said he was "not disappointed" after missing out on the top step on the podium yet again.

"I have to be happy for the team," Hamilton insisted after the finish. "Valtteri drove a fantastic race and really deserved it.

"It was a really great race for the team, a one-two finish," he continued, admitting that it had all come down to his poor launch from the grid when the lights went out at the start.

"After the start it was pretty much done, so it was about bringing the car home in one piece and making sure we held the one-two. Pretty straightforward to be honest.

"I have to work on my starts more," he replied when asked why he has been so slow to get away. "I didn't have a problem, just didn't have a good one.

"I’ll just train and work hard to stay and improve for next time," he added.

Bottas was soon a distant spot on the horizon, and Hamilton surprisingly lacked the speed to mount an effective pursuit.

"I have some ideas of where the pace went," he said afterwards. "But I’ll go through it with my engineers afterwards."

The team later reported that Hamilton's car had suffered major floor damage at some point during the race, possibly from running over debris or one of Albert Park's more aggressive kerbs.

Even so, Hamilton said that he wasn't too worried: “I wasn’t entirely happy with the balance I had but it wasn’t the end of the world. It wasn’t a problem for me to finish second.”

However it did mean that Hamilton's focus for the rest of the race was on keeping his slender lead over Verstappen for second place. But the Briton denied that he had ever been under real pressure despite being on older tyres.

It meant that Hamilton's focus for the rest of the race was on keeping his slender lead over Verstappen for second place. But the Briton denied that he had ever been under real pressure despite being on older tyres.

"The attack by Verstappen was not a problem," he insisted. “I had Max covered behind me

And the lack of significant pressure from Ferrari during the race was a major surprise for Hamilton and for Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

"We were surprised that we had a lot of pace, and that they didn't have any pace at all," he told Sky Sports F1. “Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle.”

While disappointed for Hamilton, Wolff said he was delighted to see Bottas back in winning form after failing to take any victories in 2018.

“People didn’t think he was up for the job, and he bounced back in the most dominant way, completely in control of the whole weekend," Wolff said of Bottas's performance. "When he came back from the winter he told me 'I'm back!

"I think he rediscovered the joy of driving with his rally outing, and mentally, he’s strong," Wolff added.

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