Two-time Formula One world champion Mika Hakkinen believes that the credit for the outcome of the 2018 Australian Grand Prix should go to Scuderia Ferrari and adds that Mercedes cannot be blamed for the error that led to Lewis Hamilton losing out on victory to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in Melbourne. The Mercedes driver was seen as most likely to win the race after the results from the qualifying session on Saturday, as he stormed to pole position by 0.7s ahead of the two Ferrari driver. He was then able to pull out a comfortable buffer to the Ferrari pair of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel during the early stages at Albert Park, but the Briton’s hopes of making the perfect start to his F1 title defence were all-but ended when the Maranello team made the most of a Virtual Safety Car period to pit the German driver, following the decision to an extended opening stint.
Sebastian returned to the track ahead of Hamilton and despite appearing to have a pace deficit to the Mercedes driver, held off his rival to claim his second consecutive victory in Australia. Mercedes initially blamed a software glitch for the timing effor that led to Hamilton being leapfrogged, but later revealed a “bug” in an offline tool used for its Virtual Safety Car calculations as the actual cause of the problem.
“After the pre-season tests I was personally very confident that the Mercedes team would dominate Formula 1 again, but even I was amazed to see the incredible performance that Lewis Hamilton and the team produced in qualifying.” – Mika Hakkinen explained in a post-race column for the online gambling operator Unibet – “[He was on] a different level to everybody. The race, however, was a different story because it was not at all straightforward for Mercedes. Sebastian Vettel’s win came down to Ferrari being able to react very well to what happened during the Virtual Safety Car period, and their strategy worked perfectly for him even if it was not so good for Kimi Raikkonen. Personally I did not see this race result as a failure on Mercedes’ side. When you are leading a race you often find yourself first into any situation, and that actually gives the guys behind you a little more time to work out what to do. Ferrari made the most of the VSC period, and I would not say it was Mercedes’ fault that this situation worked against them.” – Mika Hakkinen concluded.