Wolff praises Ferrari, promises Mercedes fightback

Mercedes are intent on licking their wounds, learning their lessons and bouncing back with a win in China, following Sebastian Vettel’s stirring victory for Ferrari in Sunday’s season-opening 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

Team boss Toto Wolff, who was seen banging his fist on his desk in frustration during the race, admitted afterwards that he felt Ferrari had a faster car in the contest at Albert Park and deserved their win.

“Some races you win, some races you lose,” he said. ‘And when the days come, where another team has done a better job, you need to accept that with humility and recognise their performance.”

Four-time champion German Vettel won the race ahead of Mercedes three-time champion Briton Lewis Hamilton who was unable to translate pole position into victory.  

“Today, Sebastian and Ferrari were well-deserved winners. From the early stages of the race, it was clear that Sebastian was very quick because Lewis led, but wasn't able to pull away.

“Sebastian came into the window where the undercut was possible and we had a feeling that the tyres were not lasting. It was the team's impression, looking at the data, and Lewis's in the car, too.

“So that was when, with all the clear risks of coming out in traffic, we took the decision. We were between a rock and a hard place and went for it.

“But Ferrari played it very well - and they had the quicker car today. After that, we seemed to pick up in performance on the soft tyres.

“Lewis managed everything perfectly and I must compliment Valtteri, too - he showed really good pace, made no mistakes through the whole weekend and got his first podium with the team in his first race.

“Now, the job for us is to learn the lessons from this race, understand why we didn't perform to our maximum today and keep working hard to improve the car in every area.”

Mercedes technical director James Allison added: “If it wasn't already clear, after qualifying, then it's certainly clear now that this is going to be a season of very small margins.

“We got a good getaway from the flag, but credit to Ferrari today, they had a very quick car and we just weren't quite good enough to stick with them.

“We won't panic, though. It's race one of a long season and we scored some very good points with both cars today.

“We'll be determined to come back stronger in China and make sure those small margins go our way next time.”

"Fighting against Ferrari is something that is exciting. It is something that is exciting for the fans and a new challenge for us."

Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said "it was about time!" Ferrari returned to winning ways.

In a statement, he said: “I am delighted for the team and for our tifosi who stood by us throughout this whole period.

“We've been waiting for this victory for almost a year and a half. Hearing the Italian national anthem again was very moving.

“Sebastian delivered a great race and I am sure Kimi will be soon up there battling alongside his teammate.

“Of course, this victory is something to share with the entire team, both at the circuit and back in Maranello, because team-work is the only way to achieve major goals.” 

Ferrari’s win lifted them to the top of the both the drivers’ and constructors’ world championships, Vettel leading with 25 points ahead of Hamilton on 18 in the former and Ferrari leading Mercedes by 37 to 33 in the latter. 

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