Mercedes uncover Lewis Hamilton car damage after Australian GP
Bottas wins season-opening Australian GP by 20 seconds; Hamilton struggles after losing lead of the race into first corner
Last Updated: 18/03/19 8:09am
Mercedes have revealed they discovered car damage on Lewis Hamilton's Silver Arrow after the world champion's defeat in the Australian GP.
Hamilton was spotted inspecting his car immediately after the race and Mercedes later reported: "We have discovered damage to Lewis' floor in the area just in front of the left-rear tyre. There is a chunk of the floor missing, but we are not 100 per cent sure why yet."
But Hamilton offered no excuses for his failure to translate pole position at Albert Park into victory on race day with the Englishman beaten by over 20 seconds by Valtteri Bottas.
"It was definitely my best race ever," said Bottas. "The car was perfect. It was truly enjoyable."
Hamilton's experience was rather less so.
While excessive wheel spin was blamed for his sluggish get-away, Hamilton then struggled to match Bottas' pace before an early stop to cover off Sebastian Vettel triggered a lengthy second stint on the slower medium tyres.
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But as Sky F1's Paul Di Resta declared: "I don't remember when we last saw Lewis Hamilton beaten fair and square like this."
Vettel's struggles were even more perplexing, with the Ferrari driver even reduced to asking him team mid-race: "Why are we so slow?"
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Overtaken by Red Bull's Max Verstappen late on, Vettel said after the race: "I was just slow."
Verstappen's podium represented Honda's first podium in a decade following their switch during the winter to become Red Bull's new power providers.
"The car felt really good," said Verstappen.
Team boss Christian Horner was more effusive, describing the result as "a fantastic performance and a dream start. Honda have given us a great product."
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