Lewis Hamilton: Ferrari 'just as good if not a little better' than Mercedes

World champion admits the better car won at the Malaysian Grand Prix

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The Independent Online

World champions Mercedes conceded the better car won when they were usurped by a resurgent Sebastian Vettel in his Ferrari at the Malaysian Grand Prix but felt that poor balance and strategy were also to blame for the rare reversal.

The German team have been almost untouchable since the V6 hybrid engines were introduced at the start of last season but neither Lewis Hamilton nor Nico Rosberg could stop Vettel and Ferrari from respectively claiming first wins since 2013.

Struggling for performance on the softer medium-compound tyres, both cars pitted during an early safety car period to switch to hards as Vettel opted to stay out on the track and easily held off the Briton and his German team mate.

"I don't know whether or not if I stayed out with (Vettel) if that would have made much of a difference," said world champion Hamilton who started on pole.

"They were probably just as good if not a little better in terms of tyre degradation, so it would have been very close," he told reporters.

"Naturally, after the first stop, I just had so much ground to catch up, it was pretty much impossible," he added.

"All day I was struggling with the balance, I had a lot of understeer so I couldn't really look after tyres.

"I was doing everything with the controls but couldn't find a good balance."

Frustrated to be fitted with the slower hard tyres on his final stop, Hamilton complained to his team over the radio that the mediums may have been a better choice to rein in Vettel.

"When we went to the option (medium) tyre, the car was good, or better, so I could be a bit more consistent and close down the gap," said the Briton, who leads the championship after two races following his victory in Australia.

"I was told it was not going to be that tyre (on his last stop) but we went onto the other which I knew wasn't good for me."

 

Rosberg admitted that an early pitstop was planned by the team if a safety car was deployed, although he did not expect so many cars to stay out on the track when it happened.

"We didn't expect to lose time in the pitstop waiting for people to go by because the pitlane was so wide. We thought we could go alongside," the German said.

"So those were the problems and then just getting through the pack afterwards was very difficult and cost a lot of tyre degradation.

"I tried to fight back as much as possible but I couldn't quite get back to Lewis."

Reuters

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