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All it takes is a tricky combination of temperature, track surface and thinner-gauge rubber, and the competitive picture changes completely. We saw it from Melbourne to the contrasting Bahrain/China/Baku run of races and we saw the symmetrical return to the Melbourne picture here with a dominant Mercedes. Except, this time, Lewis Hamilton was able to convert that dominance into victory.
Valtteri Bottas made it a clean sweep for the team, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen taking advantage of Ferrari’s appetite for rubber to nip ahead for the final podium place as Sebastian Vettel made a second stop.
But Formula 1 being what it is, the conspiracy theories ran rife. Paranoia is only ever a glance away in the paddock and although the competitive pattern made perfect sense to the engineers, many others were looking for wilder explanations.