Mercedes wary of ‘strong’ Ferrari threat

2015 Bahrain Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Mercedes may have topped the time sheets on the first day of running in Bahrain, but the performance of Ferrari has the world champions looking carefully in their mirrors heading into the rest of the weekend.

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton finished Friday around half a second quicker than Ferrari on ultimate pace, but Ferrari’s long-run pace has caught the eye of the championship leaders.

“On qualifying laps we look quicker but on race pace they are really strong so we will have to do a lot of work tonight to find the perfect setup,” says Nico Rosberg.

Despite a productive day in which the team covered over 100 laps between the two cars, Toto Wolff believes the team will need to work hard over the entire weekend to ensure they can hold off the Ferraris on Sunday.

“We saw some very strong long runs from a number of teams today during FP2 and Ferrari looked the quickest car during the session, with some very stable and quick lap times,” says Wolff.

“So our boys are at the top of the timesheets, yes, but we have a lot of work to do tonight to analyse and understand the data. But like always, this is only Friday and it’s Sunday that counts.”

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

22 comments on “Mercedes wary of ‘strong’ Ferrari threat”

  1. Cooler track conditions at night will swing the lap times back in Mercedes favour, but they look close enough that one less pitstop could put them in contention.

    If a Ferrari gets ahead of a Mercedes I don’t think the tyres could stand trying to attack and overtake. This one will be won on strategy.

    1. Actually on FP2, whose time is exactly the time that starts the grand prix, Ferrari’s long run pace looked very promising, and their one-lap time was somewhat hampered by some problems with understeer, if they can find a way to get through that, we would be able to see an interesting Bahrain GP.

    2. Cooler track conditions at night will swing the lap times back in Mercedes favour

      It was night when they were doing there long runs during FP2 & the temperatures during the latter half of FP2 (When they all do the long runs) are compatible to what will be seen during the race as its scheduled for the same time as the race.

      Perhaps more important than temperatures is that like Sepang this is a rear limited circuit & Ferrari’s biggest strength seems to be that it looks after its tyres, especially the rear’s on rear limited circuits better than others & that includes the Mercedes.

  2. iAltair (@)
    18th April 2015, 1:57

    Not forgetting the 2 Ferrari actually messed up the final sectors and cost them a huge chunk of times.

    They could actually look closer than it looks on 1 lap pace.

    1. Lewis messed his lap too. So it would be about the same.
      But Vettel’s long run on soft tyres was really impressive.

      1. iAltair (@)
        18th April 2015, 6:18

        Oh, I meant to compare Rosberg in particular who has gotten somewhat the cleanest lap of the top 4 runners (mainly the Mercs and Ferraris).

  3. with the two Merc drivers fighting/worring about each other Ferrari might just sneak one over them,

    lets hope Ferrari dont show their hand in tire strategy before Merc’s first pit stop, that gave the game away last week.
    strategy has now become the winning formula when you dont quite have the legs to pass or compete on equal terms.
    could be an interesting race if Merc screw up.

  4. I just hope that we get to see an intense battle at the front for the podium positions. I am tired of processional races where the only real overtaking opportunities for those at the front are during pit stops.

    1. Spot on. That’s my big issue too, which really hit me like a brick wall in China when we learned, at least at that venue on that day with those tires, getting within 2 seconds of a car meant you were afraid to race without damaging the tires completely.

      I don’t get this current formula. If they were so afraid of a return to the processional years of MS/Ferrari to the point of needing a gimmick like DRS to bandage over their addiction to downforce, why must they now have tires that don’t even allow a driver to get within one second and use the DRS?

      If this is the new norm, and hopefully it’s not, other than at some venues, then I’d rather see a return of a tire ‘war’ and a reduction in aero, and at least F1 would be a sprint race, rather than an endurance outing.

  5. Slightly off topic, but that picture is funny… Toto looks tired of hearing everything he’s doing wrong from Niki sitting next to him.

    1. Oh yeah! Good spot! I laughed out after re-looking at the pic after reading your comment.

  6. Usual sandbagging. Marcedes has margin. When they want to go, they just go.

    1. Question: if you engage in “sandbagging” how would you know your true potential?

    2. from “sandbagging” to “some lagging” ;)

  7. “On qualifying laps we look quicker but on race pace they are really strong…” – This reminds me of Mercedes W04 (2013) when RBR was on top.
    For some reason I believe this is Ferrari’s season before they’ll be on top again (WCC in 2016 prob), didn’t think Merc domination will last only 2 years and may be caught by the end of 2015 or early 2016. Well done Ferrari! If Merc can get it right, why can’t others, definitely. It’ll just take some time (whereas Merc got it ahead from start of 2014), but the lesson here is one can develop and build a car even better than Merc (as this formulas full potential hasn’t been exploited yet).

    1. as this formulas full potential hasn’t been exploited yet

      @functor A little of topic, but this is the big point why I don’t support a change of rules in the next 5 years!!! DRS + Budget equalisation + politics + media coverage are the changes needed right now.

  8. I can think of only one reason why Mercedes would lose their advantage as early as this year: Ross Brawn’s departure, finally taking it’s toll…

    1. I tend to agree. Every team he goes to becomes a champion and falls from grace without him. Benetton, Ferrari, Honda (Brawn) and Mercedes.

      I wish Ross would go back to Ferrari but with Alison and Arrivabene it is hard to find a position that would excite him.

  9. Very strange how Mercedes send Hamilton out on the long runs with the mediums, a tyre that won’t be used much during the race…..

  10. No long run graphs this time Keith? I wait for it post FP2 for every race although the data is available in FIA site.

    Please don’t stop with that feature.


  11. I can’t believe everyone is being taken in by this pantomime. The Ferrari threat was talked up by all after Malaysia, but what happened in China – even after the impressive long runs from Kimi in practice? Precisely nothing!
    It is going to be the same in Bahrain. An 0.6 discrepancy between Rosberg and Vettels on their long runs with Softs is way too much to be true – all things equal. The Mercs are either on a higher fuel load, or masking their true pace another way.

Comments are closed.