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Hamilton: I underperformed in China 'disaster'

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Lewis Hamilton Struggles When Races Are Not Perfect, Nico Rosberg Says

The Ferrari driver finished half a second ahead of both Bottas and Hamilton at a track where, until yesterday, you had to go back to 2011 for the last time a non-Mercedes auto occupied the front slot on the grid.

"They (Ferrari) have been really strong already in the morning, but qualifying performance, they put one on top and we have something to think about", said the Austrian. It probably would have been the best idea, but unfortunately it happened. No driver has ever won the season's first three races without being crowned champion that year, and the last Ferrari driver to do it was Schumacher in 2004 when he was at the peak of his powers and won the opening five.

He damaged his auto running wide in the early laps in the opening race in Australia and then spun, losing several places and finishing sixth.

"If this is the start of a new era, then Lewis Hamilton will have to think carefully about whether he signs up to Mercedes for a long-term contract", he added.

With the Mercedes leading until 11 laps from the end, Ricciardo still had to overtake Bottas on track for victory and the pair nearly collided at Turn 6, but the Finn says he only pushed his defense so far due to the pace differential between the two cars.

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Daniel Ricciardo, who was fourth in the first session for Red Bull, couldn't quite string a clean lap together and finished the day only ninth, ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso who rounded out the top 10.

"I was a bit beaten up, but knew that if I could get a tidy lap and have a little bit of margin, I can push it. But it is a bit hard to judge right now". It's not going the way I like of course, but does it really mean I have to calm down? "I enjoyed it very much". It happened very quickly, but it was a decisive, winning move. "I had no pace so was just trying to hold on for whatever I had".

Vettel said that Verstappen was past the point where the Dutchman's relative inexperience could be seen as an excuse.

"I was lucky to continue", Vettel said. He was on the brakes too late. We had a tailwind down the straight the whole race. I should have known. "Obviously, I wouldn't mind if I stay here". I wasn't going to resist anyway. Ricciardo, however, made no mistake when handed the opportunity with a superb demonstration in overtaking.

"I could see them struggling on the tyres", Verstappen explained on the phone. I left a bit of room as well. "To be honest, I was expecting him to come earlier. I told him that was the way to solve it, face to face and not through the media or blowing something up".

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