Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff praised Valtteri Bottas for answering his critics “in the most dominant way” by dominating the Australian Grand Prix en route to his fourth career victory. ​​​​

Bottas took a crushing victory for Mercedes in the F1 2019 season-opener on Sunday, beating teammate Lewis Hamilton by more than 20 seconds to record his first win since the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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Questions arose about Bottas’ future with Mercedes following his winless 2018 campaign, but Wolff said he was delighted to see such an emphatic response from the Finn in Australia.

“[I’m] very pleased. Especially the second half of the season, he was completely written off,” Wolff told Sky Sports.

“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.

“I just remember his early years in Formula Renault and Formula 3 where he was really the benchmark and he would just destroy everybody, and somehow that was lost last year.

“When he came back from the winter, he said: ‘I’m back’, and I think he rediscovered the joy of driving with his rally outing, and mentally, he’s strong.”

Mercedes managed to record its first victory in Australia since 2016 with a convincing one-two finish as Ferrari – widely tipped as the favourite heading to the opening race – finished almost a minute behind.

Asked if Ferrari’s lack of pace was a surprise, Wolff said: “I think we were surprised that we had such a good pace, and we were surprised that they didn’t have any pace at all.

“Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle.”

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