Following Sebastian Vettel’s stunning win in red on Sunday, Mercedes figures admitted to being surprised their dominance of Melbourne has been so quickly reined in.
And the big question following Malaysia is: has Ferrari really caught Mercedes?
Mercedes F1 Team boss Toto Wolff explained it as a “wake-up call”.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton said, “It’s nice to see Ferrari back. I don’t think it was a wake-up call. I don’t think we were in need of a wake-up call – we won by 30 seconds in the last race.”
“But I think everyone can always do, regardless if you’re winning, with … it’s not a kick, more like a pinch. This result has given us a pinch. We know now we’ve got a race on our hands. We’re a racing team. And we will be quicker in the next race. We’ve got a great group of people, a great approach, and from this we’ll take a step back and work very hard to analyse today.”
The double time world champion added that his car had the wrong balance at Sepang after lost most of free practice on Friday, he is confident the team will learn from the experience.
“It was damage-limitation. If this is a bad day and we can still get second and third then that’s good. We’ve had a good debrief and there’s lots of things we can learn with engineers, communication wise, and for myself, the balance. It was a testing weekend.”
The Brit also admitted that when he sat next to Vettel in the post-race conference he thought about Alonso, who failed to finish Sunday’s race after starting from the back.
“I sat next to Sebastian and thought to myself: ‘What is Fernando thinking?’ Hamilton added.
“ I remember when I left McLaren and came here, we were better the next year. I had a good feeling then, but he’s almost done the opposite of what I did. It could have been him today. It’s just strange how things turn out.”