Mercedes out-qualified the field by over 1.3 seconds in the Australian Grand Prix, but Ferrari technical director James Allison says his team can close some of that gap regardless of how Mercedes perform.
“Let’s assume for a minute that Mercedes don’t make mistakes,” said Allison, “I think with the gaps that we saw in Melbourne it’s reasonable to expect Mercedes will be at the front”.
“However we think we can be a fair bit closer to them than we were in Melbourne if we get everything right. We didn’t get everything right in Melbourne and in Malaysia we hope to. I would hope we can put our car in a strong third and fourth on the grid”.
While Ferrari’s rivals Williams expect the different characteristics of the Sepang circuit compared to Melbourne to suit them better, Allison says the two tracks actually have quite a lot in common.
“Sepang is obviously a totally different climate. The track is not so different at the end of it”.
“We look at tracks normally in two main ways. We look at how sensitive they are to horsepower and how sensitive they are to downforce. And if you look at Sepang compared with Melbourne in those ways then Sepang is very similar to Melbourne. So a car that was at a certain level of competitiveness in Melbourne should really inherit that in Sepang”.
“The difference is that Sepang is very hot and Sepang is therefore a challenge to keep the car at the right temperature and also, more critically, the tyres at the right temperature. So management of those tyres is a bigger deal in Sepang than it was in Melbourne”.