Mercedes to launch investigation after computer glitch denies Lewis Hamilton victory

Mercedes to launch investigation after computer glitch denies Lewis Hamilton victory
Lewis Hamilton during a press conference. Photo: AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team will launch an investigation into the computer glitch which denied their star driver the perfect start to his defence of the Formula One World Championship.

Hamilton was on course to open his campaign with the maximum quota of points at Melbourne's Albert Park only to see rival Sebastian Vettel snatch victory following a miscalculation by Mercedes.

The mistake afforded Vettel the chance to leapfrog Hamilton during a virtual safety car period at the Australian Grand Prix before he went on to seal an unlikely victory.

Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton spray champagne. Photo: AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton spray champagne. Photo: AP Photo/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

The inquest will start at Mercedes' Oxfordshire base in Brackley on Monday as the sport's reigning constructors' champions work to ensure they do not leave Hamilton exposed again.

"It was clearly a problem on our side and we need to analyse that to understand what happened and correct it," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said.

"Lewis was in control through the opening stint of the race and then after his pit stop and looked on course for a strong victory.

It is a tough one to take but there are lots of lessons to be learned so we can come back stronger next time.

Hamilton will be kept updated with the investigation after the error handed Vettel an early advantage in this year's championship race.

The Englishman, 33, was magnanimous in defeat, and while he expects to go head-to-head with Vettel in Bahrain a week on Sunday, he also believes he has the tools to bounce back.

"We have got a great car and we are still the world champions so with a couple of adjustments I believe we can win the next race," Hamilton added.

"You never know how the season is going to pan out as you do not get a good understanding until after four races, but Ferrari are quick.

"They are going to be rapid at the next race - they are always good when it comes to hot circuits - so it is not going to be easy and it is going to be close."

Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas finished only eighth on Sunday after he started a lowly 15th on the grid.

Bottas's crash in qualifying left Hamilton exposed to both Vettel and his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen during the curtain raiser, and the British driver says the title could be determined by hunting in packs.

Hamilton added: "It is not easy to fight against a team which has two cars in the mix rather than one.

"Last year it was important to have both of our cars up there and this year it is going to be even more important than ever before.

We are working hard together and Valtteri will make sure he is up there and fighting with us.

- PA

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