Ferrari challenge is “good for the sport” – Wolff

2015 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Toto Wolff says his Mercedes team are relishing the challenge offered by a resurgent Ferrari to their position at the front of the field this year.

The world champions have admitted that they feel Ferrari are a strong threat to their chances of winning on Sunday, a feeling that became stronger after Sebastian Vettel split the Mercedes in qualifying for tomorrow’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

“This qualifying session confirmed what we have been saying for a number of weeks now,” says Toto Wolff, “that the balance of power has shifted this year and we have a serious challenger at all circuits and in all conditions.”

Despite Lewis Hamilton securing his fourth consecutive pole to maintain his perfect record in 2015, Vettel will line up on the front row tomorrow for the second time in three races.

“Last year, the performance gap meant that we could be reasonably confident of claiming the front row each weekend – but that’s not the case any more,” added Wolff. “Ferrari has done a great job and they are snapping at our heels.

“The truth is that we all love getting out of bed in the morning and knowing that we have a real fight on our hands. It’s good for us and it’s good for the sport; that’s what motor racing is all about.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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43 comments on “Ferrari challenge is “good for the sport” – Wolff”

  1. Toto made a good impression on me from the start, but he really is a class act.

    Add in the new guy at Ferrari (no, I can’t spell his name), who is like a breath of fresh air, and the Williamseseseseses and the top 3 teams are in very good hands.

    Shame Horner has to be there, really.

    1. Maybe an experience like RB is going through at the moment is going to shape Horner for the better. Although I doubt it. Especially since he just seems to simply blame Renault.

    2. iAltair (@)
      19th April 2015, 6:33

      Maurizio Arrivabene

  2. Thumbs up for seeing the bigger picture.

  3. This is more proof that the championship is a farce orchestrated by Bernie, Mercedes has bended to him to give the mediocre Vettel the WDC next year.

    Or this is what a lot of blogs and forums in Spain say

    1. ”Or this is what a lot of blogs and forums in Spain say”…..where is alonso from?..just jealousy talking

      1. +1! Spain + hot heads + love to talk, but they rarely say something right.

    2. Can you elaborate that?

      1. There a part of the Spanish fans, media and blogs that think that Ferrari is where it is right now because Bernie forced Ferrari to contract Vettel and give them information to cheat and have a better car.

        And they also say that Bernie forced Mercedes to lose Malaysia race and lower the car’s performance.

        Well, they also think that since Monza 2006 Bernie tries to send out of F1 Alonso , so…

        1. There’s, not there

    3. those forums and blogs are seriously needing a facepalms
      even if that’s the case, why wouldn’t Bernie do the same in 2012 and make underdogs story made it through?

    4. @oletros, Bernie certainly likes to ensure there is a fight for the championship right up till the last race is run and he is probably lobbying Pirelli to supply softer tyres to help Ferrari challenge MB but to suggest he has manipulated Ferrari to lose with Fernando and MB to lose in Malaya and allow Ferrari to cheat to be competitive this year is conspiracy theory gone mad.
      Stick to F1f and you will get more realistic reporting and information.

      1. @hohum I know which are the serious source of news but sometimes is funny to grasp the amount of fantasy they put in those theories. When some take seriously that perhaps the lighting in Barhain can be manipulated to raise the temps of the asphalt is when you know that they live in their own reality

    5. iAltair (@)
      19th April 2015, 6:35

      Coincidentally Spain has some connection to Fernando. So the blogs are just probably salty.

      Who knows but, well…

  4. Grant Butler
    18th April 2015, 20:02

    Vettel’s Challenge* Kimi is what he used to be back in the McLaren days and tbh he has to retire soon and let young talent come through.

    1. Kimi is what he used to be back in the McLaren days

      So what’s the problem? :P

    2. Vettel has clearly had the upper hand over Raikkonen so far, but Raikkonen has been close. He’s had a lot of bad luck in the first two races, and some errors in qualifying, but when things go cleanly he’s right up there with Vettel. Given that Vettel is one of the best drivers in the sport, it’s clear that Raikkonen is still performing at a very high level – now that he’s got the car to suit him.

      Vettel is definitely the better qualifier (Vettel has always been great in qualifying), but throughout Kimi’s career qualifying has never been his speciality – his real speciality is race pace. He doesn’t have 40 fastest laps (3rd in the all-time list) and the joint-record for most fastest laps in a season (10 in 2005 and 2008, shared with Schumacher in 2004) for nothing, and his long-runs in practice have been very strong, in fact it’s not exactly uncommon to see them ahead of Vettel’s. Kimi is also very good at tyre conservation (though Vettel has always been very good at this as well, excluding his struggles in 2014). I would definitely agree that Vettel is a stronger overall driver than Kimi, but Kimi is no slouch and I can see him staying with Ferrari next year.

      1. Well said :)
        Also i feel Raikkonen will get stronger and closer to Vettel in qualifying as the season he was closer to him..and as he said..he could’ve gone faster..but he didnt want to risk messing up his qualifying again.
        Raikkonen may not be like one of mclaren days..but he sure has got what it takes to match vettel if not beat him. He’s happy at Ferrari, he says its the best vibe he’s ever had in a team, so i think he’s motivated and will do well and probably should stay for another year.

      2. @polo – Sadly I think some fans get blinded by their favorite driver and think that everyone else is rubbish. Especially if they happen to be on the same team.

        Kimi and Vettel have been very close this season thus far and it is certainly possible Kimi will win some races this season. That won’t quiet his detractors though, they will just say he was lucky or something. I enjoy watching all the drivers on the grid, not just my favorites. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.

        Glad Toto Wolff is saying this about Ferrari. This is what F1 is all about, good competition. Merc and Ferrari both have very strong teams and driver lineups. Great to watch it develop further and see what happens.

      3. I really hope he stays at least another year! Some people are talking about Hamilton, and despite being a very very good driver, I don’t think Ferrari + Ham is the best combo out there! It will just destroy itself like with Alo. So let’s stay with Kimi because a driver that can be inside top 4 in every races isn’t a bad driver for Ferrari right now alongside Vettel, who is the future.

  5. Mercedes seem to be talking up Ferrari more than Ferrari themselves. Add to that they will still have pace in hand over Ferrari enough to ensure supremacy one would think. “Nice” of them but a little overdone PR i think. When they win it just looks even better because they have talked up the competition.

    And of course it adds to the spectacle since there is a prospect of challenge from another team, however small. Bernie happy u think?

    1. Ferrari looked like they had a clear race pace advantage over Mercedes on Friday. With Vettel qualifying in 2nd I think that there is a very serious possibility that Ferrari could win this race, as long as they can maintain that pace on both tyre compounds (unlike in China).

    2. Bjornar Simonsen
      18th April 2015, 20:33

      My thoughts exactly!

    3. Well, after Australia F1 needed a lot of talking-up, because the portents were dire. It’s great that Ferrari have stepped up to the plate, but I’ll only take them seriously when Toto stops grinning. Mercedes took their eye off the ball in Malaysia and lost because of bad stategy, but I still think they have a performance reserve they’ve yet to tap.

    4. If you get a chance, watch Saturday’s GP2 race. I may stop following F1 and concentrate on GP2 if this continues. I even think that DRS is working there. I have followed GP2 earlier as well and I don’t mind DRS in GP2. (And we have a V8 sound still)

      1. Gp2 was really good . gasly was unlucky and vandoorne was a beast.

        DRS works in gp2 because all cars are the same so you dont have big overspeeds like when merc overtake a renault car its a big difference

  6. While what he said is true, I can’t shake the feeling that it also put Rosberg as weakest link in Mercedes at the moment. With how badly Rosberg perform compared to Hamilton this year (especially since China qualifying), I read his statement as “we still can still claim front row if Hamilton don’t have problem, but if something happened to him we can’t be sure on Rosberg to secure pole this year, also, to have 1-2 finish on every (trouble free) race”. Which is kinda sad since Rosberg is last year DHL Pole trophy winner. I hope I’m mistaken and just imagining things too much ;)

    P.S: Vettel and Ferrari did superb job on qualy, I don’t have any intention to dismiss their work.

    1. If you are correct @sonislv, then it’s purely a case of Toto justifying the big bucks that HAM gets paid, the board at Daimler Benz may well have thought it unnecessary to have a better (more expensive) driver than ROS using last year as a guide.

  7. After seeing the qualifying today, I remembered an article I read two years ago: Is this a Golden Age of Formula 1?

    Yes, there are many things wrong with today’s F1: a shrinking grid, controversial engines and DRS. Many people are saying F1 isn’t what it was before …

    I agree with some of the criticism here but one thing is still the same: we’re watching the very best drivers on the planet racing against each other.
    The ‘historical’ teams like Ferrari, Mercedes and Williams are back at the front (and I’m sure McLaren will join them soon) and they have fantastic drivers: 3 world champions, two vice-world champions and one promising talent. The aero part isn’t as important as it was a few years ago, the whole package has to be good: we can call it motor racing once again! The Hamilton-Vettel duel this year is a pleasure to watch (I haven’t enjoyed qualifying this much in a long time) and the racing in the midfield is really good this year!

    I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race!

    1. @paeschli I couldn’t agree more mate :)

      What a Q3 session and to top it all #ensures he is the last car out there. Talk about adding spice to the mix. With Lewis not quite hooking up his 2nd runs in previous session it really looked like it could be Seb on pole with his brilliant lap. Yet Lewis got it together this time but not by the massive margin we saw in Q2!

      The only regret for me is that Alonso isn’t up there also, so the big 3 can slug it out!

      1. typo: # = Lewis

        1. @psynrg – Lots of people love or hate Hamilton’s twitter antics, so “#” might actually be a good nickname!

        2. Quite the Freudian slip of a typo indeed :)

      2. ” Yet Lewis got it together this time but not by the massive margin we saw in Q2!”

        Of course, Lewis did produce the same lap time as in Q2, so it was Lewis
        that had consistent delivery, to be fair to him.

    2. F1 not what it used to be? Its one rule for one series and another for other series with fans. In WEC there are 3 teams when F1 has 10 teams but WEC is great. At Le Mans WEC will have 3 car teams F1 mention it there is outrage. LMP1 fastest teams 7 seconds off F1 fastest but compared to F1 lowest teams when should compate Team Kolles times to Marussia. Then DRS overtakes are rubbish but Porache LMP1 overtakes are so great but are just passing people halfway down a straight. I lnow my examples are an extreme but so are the anti F1 sentiment. F1 problems are not so much track related as off track. WEC offers incredible increase in value and access to the great unwashed such as myself.

  8. This is the experience Rosberg needs. Hamilton has been fighting for championships and wins from day one in the sport. Rosberg even though he’s got one more year experience only got his first real taste of that recently and it shows. For years he’s been in a mid pack car that’s typically been kind of on its own pace wise and rarely mixing it with any of the higher calibre drivers. It’s no wonder his wheel to wheel racing is lacking.

    He’s come from karts, junior formula and won the first ever GP2 championship. He obviously used to do just fine in equal machinery. But I think the way he came into F1 he’s stagnated.

    Rosberg in his current form not winning a championship, he’s looking like he may even come 3rd in it. In that situation I would rather than having a face like a smacked backside, focus on my weak points and gain some experience in the wheel to wheel stuff.

    In China he should have attacked. Worse case he kills his tyres, comes 3rd or 4th which if Hamilton is finishing ahead is irrelevant. But he won’t ever hone those skills sitting 2 seconds behind complaining his competitor should drive faster.

    1. the safety car spoiled his only chance at attacking, and he had to cover the pits from Vettel, and neither Vettel or Nico could do much about the turbulent air coming from ahead of them or the severe drop off in tire performance for attempting a move.

      1. He could have attached at any point in the race. He was too happy to sit behind Hamilton and complain he was going too slow on the lead.

        Yes attacking would compromise his overall race pace. But finishing behind Hamilton is as good as losing. Drivers like Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso would not have just sat there.

      2. @pcxmerc Considering how Nico was almost 10 seconds behind Hamilton when the safety car came out, I don’t see how the safety car spoiled his only chance at attacking.

  9. I think it’s good for TV ratings too. It would be nice to see some more robust tires this year. I think Merc have been slowing down too much to keep Ferrari in the game. This reminds me of 2013, hope Merc get it together and take off after mid season after they have had enough time to work out the kinks with respect to the rubber.

    1. So you want one team domination? What team do you support it’ hard to tell?

    2. The Mercedes and Ferrari cars are like polar opposites, as Mark Hughes explains (read the Qualifying – Q3 section, some very interesting insight there).

      The Mercedes has a lot of ultimate pace, but is being limited by the tyre life as it has to compromise between ultimate pace and stint length in the race, in a similar fashion to the Red Bulls of recent years (most significantly 2013, where the true potential of the Red Bull was only realised following Silverstone, when the tyre compounds were made more robust – Vettel proceeded to win every remaining race apart from Hungary).

      Meanwhile, the Ferrari is very kind on its tyres, so it performs very well in the race. But the way it treats its tyres also means that it is very difficult for it to get its tyres heated up in qualifying. As Mark puts it, “It isn’t that the SF-15T over-performs in the races. It’s more that it under-performs in qualifying.” Meanwhile the Mercedes performs well in qualifying, but is held back in races due to being limited by the tyres.

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