Palmer: Losing to Vettel in Melbourne 'will hurt Hamilton'

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 celebrates his second position with race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari.
© XPB 

Former Renault driver Jolyon Palmer says that Sebastian Vettel has succeeded in landing the first 'psychological blow' in the battle for the 2018 Formula 1 world championship.

Writing for the BBC Sport website, Palmer said that the circumstances in which he lost to Vettel in the Australian Grand Prix could have a big impact on Lewis Hamilton.

"The first psychological blow has been struck," said Palmer. "It will hurt for Hamilton. Having driven a perfect weekend, to lose a race through matters outside of your control is a nightmare scenario.

"As a driver, there are so many questions you want to ask your team to figure out how things went wrong," he continued. "But ultimately this one is mainly down to a stroke of bad luck."

Hamilton had been leading the opening phase of the race. However a virtual safety car enabled Vettel to pit and come back out on track ahead. From there he was able to go on to win the race.

Mercedes said that a miscalculation about the speed Hamilton could go under the VSC had enabled Vettel to get the jump.

"If Hamilton knew earlier that the gap to Vettel was too big, then he might have been able to push hard and narrow it a bit earlier," said Palmer. "But really it was the VSC itself that decided this race."

Palmer said that the crucial thing now was how the incident would affect moral in the Mercedes and Ferrari camps.

"For Vettel and Ferrari, this win will give them a huge boost and an energy for the rest of the year," he suggested.

"Mercedes will learn from their defeat. They won't take any chances in Bahrain. And Hamilton will have the bit between his teeth, fully motivated for revenge.

"After the race, beyond the initial disappointment of the defeat, he seemed positive," Palmer noted. "Willing to learn with the team to make sure it doesn't happen again.

He said that Hamilton might also be reassured by the knowledge that over the weekend as a whole, the Mercedes was much quicker than Ferrari.

"He does indeed have the fastest car of 2018 at the moment - and by some margin," Palmer commented.

"Hamilton has matured a lot over the years and has surely become a stronger driver, tougher to beat than ever.

"Often this is when we see Hamilton at his best, though. He will be out to make amends."

"It's important Hamilton responds in the best way possible in the next round in Bahrain," he cautioned. "If this season goes anything like that one, Vettel may well be tough to catch!"

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