Mercedes Formula 1 chief Toto Wolff is unsure that the team could have beaten Ferrari to victory in Australia even if it had perfected its strategy.
Lewis Hamilton led the early part of the race from pole position for Mercedes, only to make an early pit stop after struggling on his super-soft tires.
After losing time stuck behind Max Verstappen, Hamilton lost the lead of the race to Sebastian Vettel, who was then able to pull away and win the opening race of the year for Ferrari.
The result did little to resolve who of Mercedes and Ferrari is quicker in 2017 following the tight battle between Vettel and Hamilton, but Wolff was confident that the advantage lay in the Italian marque’s camp.
“We thought that Max would pit earlier and then Lewis would be in free air. It was a combination of variables that went against us,” Wolff explained when asked about Mercedes’ strategy, as quoted by the official F1 website.
“In hindsight you are always smarter. But as a general summary we weren’t quick enough – that’s why Sebastian is the deserved winner.
“For sure we could have done better. Would we have been good enough to win? I don’t know. Sebastian could have attempted the undercut at any stage and it could have come up the same way.
“But why we didn’t have the pace at the beginning of the race, in these conditions, I don’t know.”
Mercedes has enjoyed an impressive record in F1 since the start of the V6 turbo era in 2014, with Sunday’s loss to Ferrari being just the ninth race it had failed to win in that period.
Wolff was sure that the team would take the loss on the chin and be stronger for it, with its focus immediately being on bouncing back in China on April 9.
“It is personality-building! But in the end you win some and lose some,” Wolff said.
“We have been very fortunate in the last three years that we’ve won most of the races –now it is about accepting that Ferrari have beaten us. But we will come out stronger out of this weekend.
“We didn’t have a great pre-season and we haven’t had a great Sunday today, but we will leave no stone unturned to get better.”