Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari’s underperformance in the opener in Australia is likely to be a one-off and Mercedes cannot expect to be so dominant for the remainder of the 2019 Formula 1 season.

Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas crushed the opposition for a comfortable victory at the Australian Grand Prix, while the reigning F1 world champion claimed second place despite suffering damage to his car in the early stages, as Ferrari suffered all weekend with its pace and performance.

With Sebastian Vettel being passed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for the final podium spot, while new teammate Charles Leclerc was ordered to hold station behind the German driver for fifth place, serious questions were aimed at Ferrari as it hopes to understand is pace problems before the next race having been fancied as the fastest team in pre-season testing.

Hamilton doubts Ferrari’s pace has disappeared completely and expects the Italian manufacturer to fight back strongly at the next round in Bahrain given the very different circuit, temperatures and setup challenges it produces compared to Albert Park.

“No-one was expecting to have a gap like that,” Hamilton said. “What I was shown and was led to believe from the analysis that we were given was that they were ahead. It obviously wasn’t the case during this weekend.

“I’m not quite sure why their performance was how it was, but I wouldn’t say we particularly overdelivered. We did our normal job in the sense of our operations, the team did an exceptional job throughout the weekend.

“I don’t know what their problem was, but I’m sure they will come back strong in the next races so we’ve got to stay on our toes.”

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Hamilton’s team boss Toto Wolff has echoed his driver’s comments and believes Ferrari simply took “the wrong junction” with the set-up of its F1 car in Australia.

“I think it’s tricky to find the sweet spot of these new cars. In a race weekend where you have three days to find the right set-up, I think they took the wrong junction,” Wolff said. “I don’t think there’s a base performance problem.

“I’m surprised to not see them on the podium as they were really strong in Barcelona. Bahrain is a completely different ball game, very rough surface, very hot, and I think we could see quite some variances in terms of performance levels of the team.”

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