Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Lewis Hamilton was "in a different league" as he took his 54th Formula One career victory at the Chinese Grand Prix.
After sealing his sixth pole position around the Shanghai International Circuit in qualifying, Hamilton led every single lap on his way to recording his fifth win in China and his third F1 grand slam (pole, fastest lap, win, led every lap). The Briton superbly controlled a tricky race in mixed conditions, a drive which Wolff could only praise.
"Lewis on his day is just in a different league," Wolff told Sky Sports F1. "You could see that today, without any mistakes. I've said it before, on a difficult day in difficult conditions there is nobody else I would like to have in the car."
Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas missed the chance to join Hamilton on the podium after spinning under the Safety Car while trying to warm his tyres. The Finn dropped to 12th but recovered to claim sixth and Wolff believes Bottas has the character required to quickly recover from his error.
"Of course he threw it away behind the Safety Car, but it happens to the best," Wolff said. "It was very slippery out there and he lost it and the race was gone. He just needs to recover from that now. It's just the second race into the season, there's 18 more left. Analyse it and forget it.
"You could see during the race he had the pace. He was doing Lewis' lap time at various stages during the race but once you are losing so many positions and you are not in the leading pack anymore you have to recover mentally and that is very difficult. He certainly has the character to recover from such a situation."
The result in China was a complete reversal of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, with Mercedes beating Ferrari to victory on this occasion. Early season form suggests the two rival teams will be in a direct battle for the constructors' and drivers' championship in 2017, with both cars appearing evenly matched, particularly in race trim.
Wolff says he is relishing the fight between Mercedes and Ferrari and expects results to continue to ebb and flow throughout the duration of the season.
"At the end we are all racers and we like to battle it out. The last three years were an exception, it hasn't happened in Formula One before. Now this is the new era and we just have to get used to it. It looks like we are very close on pace and I expect it to be a little bit of a ping pong going through the season. It's going to be one or the other and that is exciting."