Five things we learned from the AU Grand Prix

"Today in the morning meeting, when we talked about strategy, I forbid to go for fastest lap if we were running one, two or three", Wolff said.

He predicted: "If we can identify what the issue was we can be back even stronger".

Verstappen started from fourth place behind the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel. That appears likely to be the easiest way to gain a fastest lap at that stage of the race, although it puts a driver's lead over another auto at the mercy of a slow or botched pit stop or a mistake as the new tyres get up to temperature early on. But Ferrari told him to hold his position and to increase his gap to his teammate.

The Finnish driver finished nearly 21 seconds ahead of second placed Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), while Red Bull's Max Verstappen finished in third place.

"Valtteri drove an incredible race so he truly deserved it and we just have some work to do", he said.

Bottas started alongside team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the front row in Melbourne but executed a better getaway than the five-time champion to lead into Turn 1. With the driver who records the fastest lap in a race earning one bonus point, the Prancing Horse could have told Leclerc to pit for new tires in an attempt to have him record the race's fastest lap as the race neared its conclusion.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel won last year's opener but the Italian team's lack of pace, after arriving as favourites following a strong showing in pre-season testing, provided a major talking point.

"Clearly we are missing something", said Vettel. In the end I'm very happy, collecting that extra point is good, it's entertaining, it's a great new part of the spectacle.

Before the season began, the team stated that Leclerc and Vettel would be free to fight.

Valtteri Bottas celebrates after his win. "I need to reconstruct the radio calls and how that happened".

Ferrari was unable to even muster a podium finish, with 2017 and 2018 victor Sebastian Vettel passed by Red Bull's Max Verstappen, leaving the German fourth.

"To pass a Ferrari, to be racing wheel-to-wheel on the straight with them is really positive", he said. That's it. Honestly, I didn't think about it and I didn't have anything planned.

Verstappen was challenging Hamilton in the later laps and finished less than two seconds behind. I still think we have a great vehicle and we should be better than so I'm looking forward tomorrow.

"So (I'm) just trying to optimise everything for this year, try to maximise every single thing that is possible".

The win for Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver Bottas was only his fourth in his career and his first win in over a year for the team.

Whiting was at the Melbourne circuit on Wednesday but passed away overnight after suffering a pulmonary embolism.

  • Steve Townsend