Vettel: Ferrari were quicker than Mercedes today

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari’s victory in today’s Malaysian Grand Prix was down to them being quicker on the day.

Vettel took the lead in the race when Ferrari opted not to pit during an early Safety Car period. But despite the divergence in strategy Vettel feels Ferrari had the pace to win.

“We were quicker, that’s why we beat them, which makes us very happy” Vettel told reporters after the race.

Mercedes scored an emphatic win in the first race of the season in Australia but Vettel suspects the hot conditions hurt them in Malaysia.

“We know that the Mercedes is very strong. Usually the advantage doesn’t just disappear. Today it seemed it did and we were strong on the tyres, looking after them which gave us a bit of the edge. Maybe the heat didn’t favour the Mercedes power train.

“Things worked well and we made the most of it. For the next race we’ve just got to make sure that we keep pushing and and underline our form of the first races.”

Vettel said he was “speechless” to have won his second race for Ferrari. “It’s difficult to find the right words,” he said.

“It means a lot, joining a lot of the greats… a lot of images already that I will never forget. Standing on that top step and looking down, seeing the people cheering and singing the Italian anthem. It’s just fantastic.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    62 comments on “Vettel: Ferrari were quicker than Mercedes today”

    1. “We were quicker, that’s why we beat them, which makes us very happy” Vettel told reporters after the race.

      Had Mercedes stayed out during the SC I think we would have seen Vettel only finish third to be honest. Again I’m surprised Rosberg didn’t do the opposite of Hamilton to just at least have a shot.

      1. The Mercedes Strategist is the worst in the paddock

        1. Surely the Williams one is worse?

      2. @xtwl Fair points. I can only believe that Mercedes used an extra option on Saturday because they planned all along to race with Hards but I must say Ferrari judged the temps sensibly, if you look at the Pirelli info the Medium should work at a higher temp than the Hard, with this I must conclude that Mercedes strategy is indeed as you mentioned very questionable.
        On Ferrari we don’t know how much Vettel had left in the latter part of the race, and we don’t know what Kimi is capable of.

        All things considered today was about 50ºc something degrees of track temp whilst in 2014 it was in the 30ºs impressive if you consider the albedo of the surface.

      3. How do you come to this conclusion?

        Don’t think Mercs would have managed a 2 stop anyway and it looked as though Vettel would have been able to hold off Hamilton in the final stint if Hamilton was closer

        1. I don’t say they had to mirror Vettel his strategy. I think had they gone option/option/option/prime they would have made plenty of a gap to Vettel for that third stop. When they pitted the primes it seemed like they wanted to go for two prime stops from then on but Hamilton sooner than Mercedes seemed to notice that wouldn’t work.

          1. They couldn’t. They had used one set of options in Q1 and would have not been able to finish the race on a three stop with three sets of options.

            1. You’re correct they used a set in Q but they sure could’ve done 15-15-10-16 I believe.

            2. @xtwl That would be a long shot. I don’t think their pace advantage was so great that they could afford to stop once more than Ferrari without safety car intervention negating the time loss.

            3. @vettel1 Vettel was also able to lenghten his first stint thanks to the SC remember. Vettel might have had to do longer on the primes. I agree we can’t know but I think Mercedes could’ve done one better today.

            4. That’s a whole 10s more at least though. Considering they had consumed all of their option tyres in qualifying I am sceptical they would have been able to overhaul the deficit @xtwl.

            5. @vettel1 Oh I far from think it would be easy. But I do think Hamilton would be the man to do so had the oppurtunity presented itself.

            6. I agree on that one @xtwl. Rosberg by comparison looked lost and dumbfounded.

        2. Mercedes could have handled a two stop strategy and effectively that was what they did since they barely used the option tyre before the safety car. They could have got a longer life from the first sets of options by running in front of the pack and pitting anywhere from lap 12 to 16.
          But I think they got over confident, threw their drivers into the pack and used up their tyres trying to get past slower cars.

      4. @xtwl
        I don’t think so. HAM didn’t pull a gap in the first laps, VET stayed within a second of him.
        VET would’ve overtaken him on one of the straights or overcut HAM, like he did it with MAS in Australia.
        The problem for Mercedes was their high tyre-deg. Ferrari had much better tyre wear and that’s why they won today.
        Saving two fresh sets of options in qualifying was crucial for Ferrari. Mercedes just had one fresh set of options left for the race and that was decisive.

        Without the SC it could’ve been closer, but I still think VET would’ve won anyway.

        1. @srga91 I think Hamilton perhaps was going, from the start onwards, for a two stop and didn’t push on the first few laps hence why Vettel could stay close. I’m not saying the other strategy would have been without its own complications but I’m pretty sure Mercedes could have won today had they done their homework better.

          1. @xtwl Don’t think so – the SC pit window was open for them and that was only the case for a 3 stopper – so they were committed to a 3 stopper from the beginning.

            1. @tmf42 So there plan was option/hard/hard/hard all from the beginning? I doubt that. But it remains speculation untill a teammember gives way.

            2. @xtwl

              It was their plan from the start. Allison said as much after the race – Ferrari knew when Merc went out in Q1 on the options that was what Merc planned. I believe it was Nico who mentioned the decision to come in under the safety car was made prior to the race.

              Pre race, Horner told Ted Kravitz that it was probably a 3-4 stop race and that the only team who might consider a 2 stopper was Ferrari. Love or hate Horner, he knows what he’s talking about with things like that.

            3. @uan; @tmf42; @vettel1; @slowhands – Just rewatched the opening laps of there race after the SC. There is a moment where Vettel catches up to Rosberg upon which Rosberg asks something to his engineer. The engineer replies ‘you’re both on one stop to go’. Indicating that Rosberg at least was on one stop after the SC attempting option – hard – hard presumably.

          2. @xtwl

            The Mercedes strategic decision chain had 3 parts:

            1. As @srga91 notes above, Mercedes tire decisions in quali committed them to only one stint on options in the race, as they informed Lewis over the radio. They had no other choice. And it became clear the way Lewis was sliding around that they could not run them long enough to two-stop.

            2. Their strategy to pit under an early safety car was planned before the race, as they said in post race interviews, and they stuck to it. Sometimes sticking to a plan works out, sometimes it is better to think quickly on your feet and change the plan on the fly. The reason they stuck to their plan was IMO based on their flawed assumptions under point #3:

            3. They underestimated both the race pace of the Ferrari as well as its superior tire preservation under these conditions. (This I ascribe to overconfidence as the information was there to be had (Ferrari previous race performance and FP data in Sepang), but they didn’t pay attention closely enough. Thus the need for a “wake-up call” for all concerned, which is why they were all so clearly disgusted with themselves post race.

            Once these decisions were made, there was clearly nothing they could have done on their own to get ahead of Seb. They could only hope in a glitch in his drive, which did not occur.

            1. *And it became clear the way Lewis was sliding around that they could not run *the hards* long enough to two-stop.*

      5. I think it certainly would have been closer, but remember that Vettel was only 10 seconds ahead of Hamilton due to the safety car, and Hamilton had fresher tyres. He would have won by that margin had it not been for the weaving at the line.

        1. Hamilton lost time by being behind other cars after the safety car.

          1. Yes, I know. The point was the gap would have been much larger if it were a “conventional” stop.

      6. Well the 10s gap is what was lost in traffic after the first stop. Mercedes may have own but the worst you can say is that Ferrari had comparable pace. It would have been a dead heat. Mercedes had too much deg. They put themselves Ina position to have to push to win instead on managing to win and that was key.

      7. You wish buddy. Hamilton was knocking less than 1 second off of Sebastian’s lead by the end on brand new tires, compared to the 20+ laps old tires on Vettel’s car. And that was right after he left the pits. A few laps later he was told to slow down because there was no chance he could chase him down and pass him…

    2. It wasn’t reliablity problems, a lucky safety car or the Mercedes drivers crashing into each other who gifted the win to Ferrari. They beat Mercedes fair and square today.

      Ferrari nailed the strategy and managed to conserve their tires much better. Great job, maybe this season won’t be the borefest we were all expecting.

    3. It wouldn’t be fair to say that the Ferraris are quicker than the Mercedes, but the are absolutely very close, probably thanks to to heat of Malaysia and Allison’s made-to-last-on-tyres cars.

      But Ferrari’s strategies and tactics are one of the best (if not the best) of the teams. So as long as they keep this up, Mercedes’s got to watch out.

      Even if this is a one-off and Ferrari can’t win any more race till the end of the season, they’ve established themself as “the best of the rest” and certainly will make Nico and Lewis look in the rear mirrors a lot more often this year!

      1. I’m quite surprised that Ferrari seems to be good at strategy decisions TBH. First the ‘overcut’ on Massa in Australia, this time staying out when the safety car came out. It’s great to know Ferrari will be there to punish Mercedes when they are making errors.

        Before 2013, I thought Ferrari were more the guys who messed up their strategy (Abu Dhabi 2010 for example), but this year, they are doing great!

        1. Strategy becomes a lot easier when the guy in the car is able to deliver what is needed to make the strategy work. Overcutting Massa in Australia could only work because Vettel on worn tyres was still faster than Massa on new.

          1. +1
            I believe it was smiling Ross Brawn who said, after Michael’s win with 4 pit stops in Magny Cours, that ‘the winner always has the best strategy’. It’s quite easy to be the strategic genius when the guy delivers on every strategy you make.

        2. @paeschli Abu Dhabi 2010 was more due to Alonso failing to pass Petrov than to any strategic error.

          1. Arguably that was a poorly informed decision on Ferrari’s part however. You could say they should have anticipated the difficulty to pass.

            1. @vettel1 Not having a crystal ball doesn’t make you poorly informed.

            2. It could be observed that passing was difficult from the other drivers.

            3. @vettel1 Seriously? I have the feeling you’re just arguing for the sake of arguing now :/

            4. I am fully serious. It is a well recognised strategic consideration.

            5. @vettel1 Yeah, it’s a well well recognized strategic consideration that a revered two-times world champion on a clearly superior Ferrari won’t be able to pass a rookie pay-driver on an inferior Renault D:

          2. The problem with Abu Dhabi was that Ferrari were covering Webber and ‘forgot’ about Vettel. So I consider that a poor strategy decision.

            If they had focused on the race leader instead of Webber, Alonso would never have been stuck behind Petrov.

            1. @paeschli They didn’t forget, they imagined (as did everyone) that Alonso wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) have too much problem with the Renaults. Especially Petrov’s. It wasn’t a particularly good performance by Alonso, as simple as that.

    4. I actually agree with him. Ferrari was the fastest today. People are questioning the Mercedes strategy, but even with three stops they had problems with tyre degradation. Ferrari didn’t have any problems whatsoever and they were on a two stop! Obviously I need to look at the data to confirm, but that was my feeling while watching the race.

      It’s true that Mercedes was faster on a single lap, but tyre management made the SF15T the best car today.

    5. Mercedes had high tire degradation. Lewis might think he got the wrong tires but I doubt he would have gone to the end on those tires (medium). One thing that Mercedes got wrong was them not splitting the strategy between the drivers.
      Seems like they had too much faith on their pace or too less belief on Ferrari’s.

      Hope Kimi joins the party in China. He is too good to be languishing in the midfield.

      1. Ferrari have come a long way if finishing fourth is already considerd languishing in the midfield.

        1. @paeschli Was speaking on terms of the race weekend. Things would have certainly turned out different had Kimi qualified in top5 and not had a puncture on the start finish straight. It was a direct result of midfield battle, wouldn’t you say?

          1. Yes yes of course, I was nitpicking. :)

            This race would have been even better if Raikkonen had had the oppertunity to fight with the Mercs.

            1. :) That man has some serious bad luck. The qualifying disaster was his own doing but to get tagged twice in two races seems harsh.

              Hey, but he got to complete the race this time. So that is an improvement.

              Kimi sounded very low though. Hope he gets his reward in China. I have a belief that Kimi is faster on race pace than Vettel even if Vettel soundly beats him in Qualifying.

          2. @evered7

            Kimi was in part unlucky, but he failed to make his own luck in qualifying – Ericsson in front of him and Hamilton behind both made Q3. He should have been more on this Q2 lap.

            You could also say he caused his own puncture trying to squeeze in between Nasr and I believe Sainz at the last corner – Kimi was on a slightly wider line around the corner, still tight, and Nasr had moved up on him on the inside, then Kimi tried to slot back in and got clipped.

      2. Their radio transmissions halfway through the race sounded naive. It was almost like they had forgotten that Vettel did not require a 3rd stop.

        1. Having not been challenged for a whole year, some amount of complacency creeps in :)

    6. Ferrari were clearly very quick today. Look at Raikkonen’s race – from the back of the field to fourth in a car with floor damage. I think the heat and the car’s kindness on its tyres helped them close some of the gap to Mercedes, and Ferrari’s better strategy – not something we’ve seen much of in recent years – gave them the advantage they needed.

    7. Actually i don’t believe that Ferrari was more quick than Mercedes
      they had one pit stop less than others
      and Hamilton with equals tyres had showed a very fast pace
      but Vettel has made a huge effort and thanks to him
      we weren’t bored watching the Gp

      1. But requiring that one less pit stop is partially performance-based with the ability to prolong tyre life. I do agree that Mercedes appeared faster when they flexed their muscles, but was Vettel going for it or ensuring he conserved the tyres enough to reach the required stint length?

      2. Well, if Ferrari can finish the race with one less pit stop, that means they are quicker than Mercedes over a full race distance.

    8. Well, Vettel is certainly not one to say that he had a slower car, though he did in fact had a slower car. When they were on the same tyres, Lewis was about half a second faster.

      I have no doubt that the gap seemed less only thanks to the heat. In China we’ll see a boring Mercedes 1-2 again.

    9. This is the difference between Vettel and Alonso. If Alonso would have won, he would have said, “we are still slower than Merc” and try to project himself as the X-factor

      Vettel on the other hand credits victory to the car, and hence, the whole team.

    10. Masterclass by Seb. I’m happy for Ferrari and maybe, just maybe, F1 becomes more interesting from now on.

    11. Ferrari were quicker than Mercedes today-ISH.

      Would they have won without the safety car though?

      1. I believe yes. Even if they two-stopped, the tire degradation on the hards was so bad that Vettel would have passed both Mercs either at the end of their stints or by overcutting as in Melbourne. Mercedes sealed their fate by using an extra set of mediums in quali. So they were committed to either 2 or 3 stints on hards. Had they stayed out, they might have stayed up at the end of the first stint, but would have lost out later. The tire deg alone would have left them sitting ducks for Seb to pass on the track, but he also had one extra set of mediums and would have won that stint too.

    12. I’m not convinced merc tried their best today after all that equalisation talk. Yes they’re the best but can make mistakes as well, as ricciardo proved 3 times last year (yes I know reliability comes into it but I believe ric beat Rosberg on pace and strategy in Belgium) but Ferrari are looking good. Merc will still run away with it unfortunately but we just got lucky that someone else won in the 2nd race and we didn’t have to wait till halfway through the season.

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