Hamilton: Ferrari too fast for us
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 yesterday 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 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 hard ones as Vettel opted to stay out on the track and easily held off the Briton and his German teammate.
"Firstly, a huge congratulations to Ferrari and to Sebastian - they did an amazing job. They had some pace. I gave it everything I could, we did as a team," said Hamilton.
"I knew coming into this weekend that they had made a step. We didn't know how big, but they were too fast for us today."
"I don't know whether or not if I stayed out with (Vettel) if that would have made much of a difference," added the Briton. "They were probably just as good if not a little better in terms of tyre degradation, so it would have been very close.
"All day I was struggling with the balance, I had a lot of understeer so I couldn't really look after tyres."
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," he said.
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.
"Just getting through the pack was very difficult and cost a lot of tyre degradation."
Hamilton leads the championship lead on 43 points, with Vettel only three points behind him.
"We welcome the fight," Hamilton said. "It is great to have a battle with the Ferraris. - Wire Services.