Lewis Hamilton makes promise to Mercedes fans after Australian Grand Prix

'To whom it may concern, f*** you': Bottas' rebuke after Australia win

Valtteri Bottas dedicates Australian GP win to Charlie Whiting

Asked why they had asked Leclerc to hold position in the closing laps, Binotto said: "I don't think it was really a decision - it was not a hard one". "Everyone else looked to have far fewer problems than we did".

But although extremely highly rated, the Monaco-born driver accepts that he is now "number 2" to Sebastian Vettel.

Bottas, conscious that he needs to deliver this year with promising Frenchman Esteban Ocon waiting in the wings as the team's reserve driver, said he learned a lot from 2018 and had taken it on board.

Down under, 4X champion Sebastian Vettel qualified 3rd, but was more than 7/10's slower than MercedesAMG's Polesitter Lewis Hamilton, and dropped to 4th in the race after being passed by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.

"We need to analyze what happened here in peace at the factory", Binotto said.

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Sebastian Vettel - victor of the opening two races previous year and Hamilton's closest challenger in the drivers' championship - finished nearly a minute down on Bottas, while Charles Leclerc crossed the line a second behind the German in his first race for Ferrari.

Formula 1 championship leader Valtteri Bottas has dedicated his Australian Grand Prix victory to long-serving FIA race director Charlie Whiting, who died ahead of the season-opening weekend.

Despite Hamilton taking pole position in Melbourne, Bottas claimed the lead at the start and dominated the race, putting in a drive that Wolff described as reminiscent of some of his form as a junior driver.

"At that time, we did not want to jeopardize the result we had", Binotto said.

"I was told also on the radio that he's complaining about his tyres, but he made it quite safely to the end. Not quite sure what the issue was".

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"I had the pace to get past Seb, but the team chose to freeze the positions via team radio", Leclerc said.

But Verstappen has been left very impressed by the new-look Red Bull power unit: "I am very happy for the team and also for Honda to finish on the podium today".

Leclerc versus Vettel wasn't much of a story this time, but the signs are it will be at some point this year - and possibly soon. "Because I think the engineers were keen and the drivers were keen!"

"I was planning to just stay close behind, two, three seconds", Hamilton explained.

"So (I'm) just trying to optimise everything for this year, try to maximise every single thing that is possible". But I am sure we will find something because we know the auto is better than what we have seen.

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Best overtake: Ahead of the weekend, nobody would have expected a Red Bull to pass a Ferrari for the final podium position.

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