Maurizio Arrivabene is refusing to be too disheartened to see a win in the 2016 Formula 1 season opener slip from Ferrari's grasp, saying there was no guarantee Sebastian Vettel could have held off Nico Rosberg had it made anther strategy call.
The former champion led during the first portion of the race after a magnificent start from the second row of the grid, only for a red flag to come on lap 18 due to a massive accident for former Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.
At the restart, Ferrari opted to place Vettel back on super-soft tyres – necessitating another stop -, unlike Rosberg behind who could go to the end on medium rubber.
With Vettel unable to make up enough of a lead, he pitted and returned to the track in fourth. Passing Daniel Ricciardo, he caught second place Lewis Hamilton but a mistake at the penultimate corner with two laps to go would scupper his hopes of finishing higher than third.
However, with many feeling Ferrari had fluffed its chance to win, team principal Arrivabene admits there is a possibility it made the wrong call, but said it felt it was safer to stick to the original plan at the time.
“On the wall we were confident [we could win] in all honesty. We were looking at the race and looking at the gap we were gaining and at that time our radio was to go with our strategy and keep going. I don't want to make any excuses, but the last red flag was in 2009 if I'm not wrong. But it's part of the race and you have to accept it and that's it.
“At that stage of the race you have to be more aggressive. It could be right, it could be wrong, I think Sebastian was talking about that. If you want to look at the glass not half empty, we were better and this is the news. You can't be happy after this, but this is racing.”
Reflecting on whether it would have enjoyed a different result had Ferrari gone like-for-like with Mercedes with a medium tyre, Arrivabene admits the team will be assessing the data.
“We need to look at the data in the garage because every car has different consumption and degradation. To be certain if we were right or to be certain if we were wrong makes no sense now.”