Bottas even disobeyed an order from Wolff to resist going for the new point for fastest lap.
"I think if you judge the entire weekend, it's a very strong one".
"I've been here a long, long time and I've never known after the first race", he said when asked how he read the situation.
Williams appear to have made little progress from previous year when they propped up the constructors' championship.
Ferrari had been the quickest auto at winter testing, just edging champions Mercedes, but Barcelona must have felt a distant memory as Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc crossed fourth and fifth, almost a minute behind Bottas. But Ferrari told him to hold his position and to increase his gap to his teammate.
It was clear that the 21-year-old Monegasque had what it took to pass the 31-year-old German for fourth place after reeling him in lap after lap and sometimes recording lap times that were more than one second quicker than Vettel's laps.
"I guess we were just slow", said Vettel. "Unfortunately, I lost then Seb's position and Max's (Verstappen) position and was fifth and we finished there". I wasn't entirely happy with the balance I had but it wasn't the end of the world. "Not quite sure what the issue was".
But the Briton said the "glass was half full" and the team had "positive things" to take from the race.
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"I was told also on the radio that he's complaining about his tyres, but he made it quite safely to the end".
Red Bull switched from Renault to Honda engines for 2019, and delivered the Japanese automaker its first F1 podium since 2008.
Images of the pit stop on lap 15 showed the team struggling to get the left-front wheel attached and clearly something went awry in the 17 laps that followed.
He said: "Mercedes struggled with the tyres in Barcelona but Ferrari was ideal".
"I was planning to just stay close behind, two, three seconds", Hamilton explained. I think that maybe these years at Williams, and then the shock draft into Mercedes, was something that he needed to digest.
Sebastian Vettel, who finished as their lead vehicle in fourth, added: "I'm sure we will find something because we know the auto is better than what we've seen".
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Whiting died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism in Melbourne on the eve of the season-opener, and his presence and influence will be widely missed as the sport's global governing body tries to find a permanent replacement.
It was the first time in his Ferrari career that Vettel - victor of the last two races in Melbourne - had failed to be on the podium at the Australian GP.