Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says the team understands where it is lacking in terms of tyre usage, after he missed out on victory to Sebastian Vettel at the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton led away from pole position at Albert Park but was unable to pull clear of his Ferrari rival, amid complaints about grip on the Ultra Softs, and came into the pits on lap 17.

Vettel jumped Hamilton through the sole pit phase by stopping five laps later; Hamilton then felt he was quicker on the Soft tyres but believed chasing down Vettel was a fruitless task.

“There’s an area that we have to work on, our tyre usage, it is something we understand where we’re losing [out],” he said.

“We’re just trying to make changes to improve that for the future, which we will do.

“If the roles were reversed [in the first stint], he probably would have pulled away; they definitely had more pace on the Ultra Soft.

“I think I had more pace in that second stint, just I stopped so much earlier that I didn’t know how long the tyres were going to last.

“I didn’t want to push to close the gap knowing I couldn’t overtake anyways and then find I’ve run out of tyres in the end and lose second place.”

Hamilton also explained that Pirelli’s tyres have retained similar dynamics in terms of their operating windows, despite the move to larger and more durable rubber.

“The tyres are very similar to what they’ve had before,” he commented.

“There’s no real difference in characteristics in the sense [that] they overheat, they drop off, they’re a bigger, harder tyre.

“Last year we had Soft and Super Softs; [this year] it’s like having one or two steps stiffer, so it just goes longer, there’s less graining, but it’s the same things you’re faced with compared to the past.”