Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing were the favourites before the start of last Sunday's race in Bahrain. The Dutchman had secured pole position the day before with an insanely fast lap, and if he could hold on to that lead during the race it would be an easy win for him. It didn't work out that way.
One of the people who was perhaps most surprised by this is Toto Wolff. His team looked far from competitive during the winter test and qualifying also promised only a slim chance of victory. How Lewis Hamilton was able to match Verstappen's speed, in the end, is a mystery to him.
Wolff looks for answers
"Yes, we were four-tenths off in qualifying and that's quite a gap and very difficult to recover. We knew that they have a good race car, whether it is enough to reduce that gap wasn't very clear. And we need to understand why – why our car was in a happy place today set-up wise, tyre wise and not in the previous days,” Wolff is quoted by Formula1.com.
The fact that Hamilton was able to keep up with the Red Bull so well during the race could of course have something to do with the clever strategy Mercedes chose for him. But also the fact that the soft tyre was not used during the race. Already during the winter test, it appeared that Mercedes had relatively fewer major problems on the harder compounds.