Lewis Hamilton has explained that his distinct lack of pace compared to Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in the Australian Grand Prix was more down to his saving tyre life and fuel than any inability to extract the maximum from his car.
Hamilton finished over 20 seconds adrift of race-winner Bottas in Melbourne, having failed to convert pole into victory in Australia for a fourth year in succession.
However, the reigning champion had enough in the tank to hold off a late charge from Red Bull's Max Verstappen – an eventuality Hamilton says he had planned for.
"My engineers had no idea that I was saving the tyres," he said. "They thought that I was just off the pace, which I'm sure a lot of the public thought.
"But I was saving tyres, saving fuel, making sure that I had enough to push at the end, which is all that I needed to do to finish where I was. I couldn't do any more to get further ahead and I didn't need to do any less."
Mercedes wiped the floor with rivals Ferrari in Australia, but Hamilton expects a renewed fight from Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc in Sakhir, having seen the German win from pole here 12 months ago.