Toto Wolff has admitted that the four-tenths between the world champions and Red Bull Racing during Qualifying will be hard to recover, after a miracle win for Hamilton at the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28.
After an epic on-track battle, Hamilton just barely managed to hold Verstappen off in the approach to the finish line.
But after a stellar performance in the W12, Hamilton took the first win of the season, followed ever-so-closely by the young Dutch driver, who gave it everything up until the very last second.
“If somebody would have told me that this is going to be the result on Sunday, I would have probably not believed it.
“But we recovered well from the [pre-season] test. Still, to give you 100% honesty we are still lacking pace in qualifying and quite a bit.
“And today, I think we were competitive. We are definitely competitive. And the strategy made all the difference.
“We took a bold move [at the] beginning, gained track position. And then at the end, the racing god was on our side.”
Qualifying saw Max Verstappen land pole position for the 2021 season opener after he tore up the track on his final flying lap to cross the line .4 seconds faster than Mercedes – marking the first season-opening pole of the 23-year-old’s F1 career so far.
Wolff admitted that Mercedes “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.”
“Bahrain was always not the strongest race for Red Bull, and also they haven’t been particularly good out of the blocks, and this weekend shows that all that is not the case anymore in 2021.
“So I have no doubt that they are extremely difficult to beat. They are the ones that are leading the pack. And I think today the racing gods were on our side.
“It’s not that we have found suddenly some awesome performance. It was a combination of great strategy, a solid race car, and then just being fortunate at the end,” concluded Wolff.
Racing resumes at Imola for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on April 18, 2021.