Sir Lewis Hamilton declared himself pleased after he finished fourth behind George Russell in Australia following a difficult weekend for Mercedes.
The Silver Arrows were over a second off the pace of Ferrari during Friday practice, but managed to pull some of that time back during qualifying as Hamilton ended Q3 just under a second adrift of polesitter and eventual race winner Charles Leclerc and a little over a tenth clear of Russell.
Both of the Britons made a strong start to the race as they cleared McLaren’s Lando Norris, before the 37-year-old also got ahead of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, before an enthralling battle ensued between the two.
Perez would pass him on the outside of Turn Nine after their stops before a Sebastian Vettel crash brought out the Safety Car, allowing Russell, who had yet to stop, to come into the pits and get a cheap tyre change.
The Mexican was able to get himself back ahead of the 24-year-old and onto the podium, but a Max Verstappen reliability-enforced retirement promoted the former Williams man back onto the podium places.
He led his team-mate home for 27 points, leaving them as the top scorers in Melbourne following the untimely exits from the race for Verstappen and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
In the end, it was a satisfactory Sunday as far as the seven-time champion is concerned.
“It’s a great result for us as a team, honestly,” he told Sky Sports after the race.
“This weekend we’ve had so many difficult moments with the car and so to get ourselves fifth and sixth in qualifying, to progress like we have and to have the reliability, and we definitely didn’t expect to have a third, fourth.
“And George did a great job today. We’ve bagged as many points as we could as a team and that’s great.”
Hamilton spent the final few laps of the race stuck just over a second behind his compatriot, and told his Mercedes team over the radio that they had put him in a “difficult position,” perceivably unable to attack his younger team-mate.
He elaborated that he was suffering from overheating, meaning he was unable to advance any further.
“I got to see a bit of the battle at the end, racing Perez, and I wish I could have been in it,” he added.
“I couldn’t fight for third because the engine was overheating. So I had to back off, so just had to sit behind.”
Mercedes are now 39 points behind Ferrari in the Constructors’ Championship, and nine points ahead of Red Bull after an unexpectedly good day for the Brackley side.