Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said Valtteri Bottas answered critics in the “most dominant way” with victory in Melbourne.
Bottas destroyed the competition, taking the lead from team-mate Lewis Hamilton at the race start and driving off into the sunset.
Hamilton would complete a Mercedes 1-2, albeit 20 seconds behind the Finn when the chequered flag flew.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Wolff said: “[I’m] very pleased. Especially the second half of the season, he was completely written off.
“People didn’t think he was up for the job, and he bounced back in the most dominant way, completely in control of the whole weekend.
“I just remember his early years in Formula Renault and Formula 3 where he was really the benchmark and he would just destroy everybody, and somehow that was lost last year.
“When he came back from the winter, he said: ‘I’m back’, and I think he rediscovered the joy of driving with his rally outing, and mentally, he’s strong.”
Races entered with a beard: 1⃣
Races won with a beard: 1⃣
Today, @ValtteriBottas was a cut above the rest! 🧔#AusGP 🇦🇺 #F1 pic.twitter.com/DxQwHo5XWS
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 17, 2019
Pre-season favourites Ferrari were comfortably third best, with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in P4 and P5 respectively finishing a minute behind Bottas.
And while Wolff was shocked with their lack of pace, he believes the Scuderia’s true performance is “somewhere in the middle”.
“I think we were surprised that we had such a good pace, and we were surprised that they didn’t have any pace at all,” he explained.
“Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle.”
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