Mercedes boss Toto Wolff expressed his delight at how Valtteri Bottas silenced his biggest critics with a dominant win at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Bottas started alongside team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the front row in Melbourne but executed a better getaway than the five-time champion to lead into Turn 1.
The Finn built a sizeable lead as the laps ticked off, showing consistent pace as he eventually claimed victory by over 20 seconds and registered a bonus point for fastest lap.
Having gone through the entire 2018 season winless, Bottas had been slated for his poor performances and his future at Mercedes was questioned, but Wolff praised his driver for responding to his critics on the track.
“Very pleased, especially the second half of the season [in 2018], he was completely written off,” Wolff told Sky Sports.
“People didn’t think he was up for the job, and he bounced back in the most dominant way, completely in control of the whole weekend.
“I just remember his early years in Formula Renault and Formula 3 where he was really the benchmark and he would just destroy everybody. Somehow that was lost last year.
“When he came back from the winter, he said: ‘I’m back’, and I think he rediscovered the joy of driving with his rally outing, and mentally, he’s strong.”
Mercedes’ one-two finish at Albert Park came as a huge shock to the team, who believed it was heading to Melbourne as underdogs behind Ferrari.
The Italian outfit finished over 50 seconds behind the Silver Arrows on race day, and Wolff admits the result was not what Mercedes had expected.
“I think we were surprised that we had such a good pace, and we were surprised that they [Ferrari] didn’t have any pace at all.
“Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle.”