Lewis Hamilton admits that he did not expect Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari to be so quick during the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Vettel led Hamilton home by eight seconds to secure his first win for Ferrari, on only his seconds start for the Maranello-based squad.
Hamilton started from pole but ran a three-stop strategy, in contrast to Vettel, who was two-stopping, a strategy which won the German the race.
“First of all, huge congratulations to Seb and Ferrari,” Hamilton said. “You have to hand it to them – I wasn’t expecting them to be as quick as they were today but they had some serious pace and deserved the win. It’s great for the fans to see them up here.”
“It was a tough race out there. I was struggling with the balance today and never really felt comfortable with the car. There was so much understeer that tyre management was really hard.
“When I went to the option it was much better, so I thought we’d use it again at the end and was surprised we went with the prime. But I made the best I could with it and ultimately I’m sure the team made the call for the right reasons.”
Hamilton says that even if Mercedes had run a similar strategy to Ferrari it would have been difficult to stop Vettel from taking his first win since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix.
“There was a bit of confusion on the radio at one point where I wasn’t quite sure what we were doing on the strategy but I’m not sure if pitting with Seb would have made the difference anyway.
“They were as fast if not faster than us today and once I had that gap to make up it was just a step too far. I’m now looking forward to the next race and fighting to get back to the front again.”
Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS