Formula 1 fans and pundits are praising Valtteri Bottas over his victory at the Australian Grand Prix, but former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher is warning that the Finn’s domination in Melbourne may be a one-off.
Although Bottas finished 20 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, it has emerged that the world champion’s car had suffered floor damage which was “hampering the performance”, reports the Daily Express.
Ex-Jordan, Williams and Toyota driver Schumacher believes that this technical disadvantage was a major factor in Bottas winning in Australia.
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Speaking on the Starting Grid podcast, Schumacher said of Bottas: “I would say that was just a good weekend for him - no more and no less. I would not interpret that much.
“He showed in qualifying that he is on the level of Hamilton, but in the end he was still a tenth away because he has just made the famous mistake - without [Hamilton’s damaged] underbody and the start it would be the usual picture, I’m pretty sure.
“That’s why, yes, it’s good that he made it, but we do not have a new Bottas, which would be very surprising.”
Horner: Red Bull-Honda title talk too early
As Mercedes celebrated a one-two in Melbourne, Red Bull Racing was also enjoying success during the season-opening grand prix.
Powered by the new Honda engine, the team secured a podium position after Max Verstappen finished third behind Mercedes duo Bottas and Hamilton.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and world champion Hamilton both expect Red Bull to challenge for the championship in 2019, but Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has played down the title talk.
According to ESPN, Horner said: “I think it’s too early to talk about championships. But certainly to be on the podium is a great moment for Honda.
“We’re very proud of that achievement, grateful for the product they’ve given us. Hopefully it’s a starting point for a strong season.
“We want to close the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari [and] we’ve done that. It’s only one race but we have a good start and we have to build on this positive energy.”
Kvyat pleased with fresh start
During the close season, Daniil Kvyat secured his return to F1 after signing with Toro Rosso - and in his first race back the Russian scored a point by finishing tenth in Melbourne.
After spending 2018 as a development driver for Scuderia Ferrari, the 24-year-old is happy to have returned to the F1 starting grid.
He told F1.com: “I feel like it’s a fresh start. A good opportunity to be a better driver, a better person, and I think that’s exactly what I’ve tried to work on.”
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