“Ferrari have caught up” – Hamilton

2016 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton is convinced Ferrari have reduced the gap to Mercedes since the end of last season.

The two teams ran different plans in pre-season testing, making it difficult to compare what gains the two might have made. But Hamilton, speaking at a Mercedes event in Stuttgart, said the Italian team’s pace had been “impressive” during the eight days of running at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Hamilton said Ferrari’s testing pace was “impressive”
“Ferrari have caught up,” said Hamilton when assessing his chances of the retaining the championship he won in the last two seasons, “and Nico [Rosberg] is always a strong opponent”.

“I believe that we have a good car, but Ferrari were posting some impressive times during the tests – both on the fast laps and on longer runs. We are certainly in for a good fight, but after all that’s exactly what everyone wants.”

Rosberg also said Ferrari “looked very strong in testing” but added Mercedes “don’t yet know where we stand compared to the opposition”.

Ferrari set the fastest time during pre-season testing with Kimi Raikkonen’s lap of 1’22.765. The best time for Mercedes, set on soft tyres, was 0.257s slower. However Mercedes covered far greater mileage.

“I never thought that we would be driving quite so many kilometres in preparation,” said Hamilton. “We were with the team yesterday and congratulated everyone involved on this great Silver Arrow.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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49 comments on ““Ferrari have caught up” – Hamilton”

  1. I have always found it funny how we go from ‘yeah you can’t know what other teams are doing’ to ‘other team is in that position’ in a matter of days between the last test and the first race.

    1. Everyone can see Ferrari has made improvments and Hamilton knows perfectly well the state of Mercedes and their engine. “You cant know what other teams are doing” is just a standard nonsense pr answear.

      1. Everyone knows Ferrari have shown improvements, but by how much is the answer. And Hamilton will also know the answer to the question that if Mercedes ever did show their full pace in testing.

        The difference in performance if any will only be visible in Q3 in Melbourne I suppose.

        1. Unless one of the cars for whatever reason fails to set a time in the 1st 5 minutes of Q1 as then they will be out of qualifying.

        2. Q3 Melbourne, when Mercedes has their PU working in rocket mode, we’ll see how much Ferrari has really caught up. If I had to guess, I’d bet that Ferrari are still 0.5s off the pace of the Mercs.

          1. I bet not, Ferrari have made improvements all round, and I think with vettel, even if they are .3, then Ferrari will be a match for Mercedes. everyone talks about whether Mercedes showed there true pace in testing, and they all seem to assume that Ferrari somehow showed theirs… it was testing, the teams tested what they needed for the season proper, each team has different programs.

    2. knoxploration
      11th March 2016, 19:18

      In other news, Lewis Hamilton also believes in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Or at least, he does publicly. Personally, he knows they’re just as false as the idea that anybody other than Mercedes can win in an engine-dominated formula with insanely restrictive rules that prevent rivals from implementing and testing a proper answer to their woes.

      tl;dr: Lewis Hamilton knows he’s already won this championship, too. He just doesn’t want you to tune out and stop watching him, or it’ll hurt the bottom line and he’ll eventually earn less.

      1. The tokens have increased this year, a lot can be changed and next year is free development which rectifies the restrictive rules, then there are no excuses you can catch up if you are good enough.

        1. knoxploration
          11th March 2016, 21:57

          Well, apart from the fact that there’s essentially no opportunity to test except when you’re supposed to be racing or getting ready to do so. And the whole issue of only being allowed a handful of engines per year, but your engine counting as a new one every time you change a part for a new design.

          But other than that, yeah. Totally. It’ll be free reign, except that it won’t. It will be just fractionally better than it is now, and Mercedes will *still* dominate. They’ll continue to do so until either the engines are brought to parity (as was intended when homologation and engine life management was introduced), or until there’s a radical rules change somewhere else on the car which causes them to stumble.

          Until then, nobody is going to catch up. I’ve said it for the last couple of years and time has proven me right; I will say it again and it will prove me right again.

          1. RaceProUK (@)
            12th March 2016, 8:19

            Engines can be tested on dynamos; they don’t have to be in a car.

          2. The rules from next year with no tokens is good. If other engine makers cannot catch Merc that is tough luck. You cannot equalise performance on engines any more than you should for aero or if a driver is too good slow them down so others have a chance.

          3. wait to the season starts, you might get a rude awakening when you realise Ferrari are the real this year. they have been working on a compression-ignition ICE, and even if they haven’t quite achieved it (no one knows), they have made improvements in every area anyway, and testing showed very similar long run and short run times to Mercedes.

      2. You sound right and i`m totally with you, but at the same time you sound totally boringly… and that is why all the Lewises in the sport are selling us this gibberish – last year one of the Lewises was using Ferraris name in almost every possible interview to sell “competitive” sport. I remember when in Red Bull domination period it was forbidden to even mention competitors name to not to promote their brand.

        Hamilton is just a Rihanna in F1. He will do nothing unless it is permitted. I`m almost convinced Lewis was allowed to express his persona a little bit more to sell the “hero” stuff but no one expected him to come out with this “halo” hatred talk. Saving lives most come before appearance!… but finding Hamilton barking under totally wrong tree not knowing cat has long left, leaves his owners with a sence of hopelessness and i totally understand why some guys need to be kept away from hunting.

      3. Pretty cynical comment! Well, let’s wait and see. Only one week to go. Personally, I think Ferrari have actually caught up but willing to have egg on face!

  2. Lewis is channeling is inner Alonso here…

    1. Or trolling the outer Alonso.

      1. Lol. It would be terrible for Fernando if Seb really is in the running this year.

        1. Yup, and this is Fernando’s worst nightmare.

        2. @lockup @antoine-de-paris Probably not unless VET actually wins the chamionship….

        3. It’s a real shame for F1. Alonso vs Hamilton round 2 would have been electric.

      2. No, it’s his inner Alonso.

        What he is really saying is that his most likely third in a row WDC will be one that was against a competition worthy of merc. We all know this really isn’t he case but if it makes Lewis feel like he actually had to try to push the fast pedal harder than the others, well that’s good for everyone isn’t it’.

        Here’s to another ”most challenging WDC ” for Lewis, we all know that no other driver could have finished as well as he did.

        Well, as long as you exclude Nico who couldn’t even handle Mark Webber. And then as long as you exclude every other driver capable of working the gas pedal in an f1 car, then Lewis is clearly in a league of his own.

        1. Oh come!

          You can’t STILL be bitter and hurting…


        2. My word. What tosh!

      3. I think Alonso would grudgingly prefer Lewis to win (WDC) again rather than Seb in a Ferrari!

  3. I’d love to see Ferrari matching Mercedes on pure speed, so we can see how Mercedes as a team performs under pressure. In the Red Bull era there were times when Ferrari (Alonso), Mclaren, Mercedes or even Lotus matched Red Bulls’ pace. Still they won because of brilliant agressive strategy and pit stops. I wonder if Mercedes are on that same level, keeping in mind the drivers share the 1 strategy guy instead of having one each. So far, they have only been tested occationally.

    1. I think Merc will still be in front but hopefully at most races Ferrari can force the Merc team into having to make split strategies for their drivers.

      1. @me4me

        In the Red Bull era there were times when Ferrari (Alonso), Mclaren, Mercedes or even Lotus matched Red Bulls’ pace. Still they won because of brilliant agressive strategy and pit stops. I wonder if Mercedes are on that same level

        Ferrari almost always bested Red Bull when the cars were equal. Ferrari’s strategy with their lead driver has been second to none for many years now. Red Bull generally outsmarted McLaren and Lotus though, because those teams were just downright poor at race operations. Difficult to judge Mercedes based on the last 2 years.

        1. Mercedes haven’t had to consider strategy by and large for the last couple of seasons (in fact, arguably compromising on the optimum simply to give parity between their own drivers), so they may well be vulnerable to a sharper Ferrari outfit.

          Ferrari will be very keen on exploiting the maximum potential of the softer compounds, as was reflected by the focus of their testing programme. If some of the races are close – as I suspect certain races may be – that dimension will be fascinating.

          1. The few times it got down to strategy Mercedes demonstrated extreamly poor calls.

        2. RaceProUK (@)
          12th March 2016, 8:21

          It’s odd to consider that at one time Ferrari were considered to be the ones making all the bad calls

    2. Me4Me – you hit the nail right on the head.

      Mercedes are quite simply no where near as sharp as other teams in the race strategy department and while they may be a little out of practice, Red Bull would run rings round them.

      In a tight year which its possibly shaping up to be, teams that focus on the one leading driver such as Ferrari and to a lesser extent RB are very likely to overcome a minor deficit in performance particularly as Mercedes have largely been able to manage both drivers equally through a performance advantage. They have managed even then to drop quite a number of substantial balls that others would not.

      Couple that to far less driver/engineer discussion and I can see a few more Monaco 2015 races in the future unless they change their modus operandi and run a little less equality.

      1. Lol again….. Lewis chose to pit in Monaco, team advised him to stay out. :-)

    3. Mercedes will have to adopt the Ferrari system of a number one driver if the racing is very close between to the two this season. If that comes to pass, then who will it be?

  4. Sandbagging comes in many forms…Lewis knows what to say. Nothing in the press matters until the end of the day in Adelaide

    1. Adelaide?

    2. Or by saying this knowing the car is faster he makes it looks like it his ability that is the difference (he may be the best anyway). I always think these are throwaway comments and his just get picked up by the media more.

      1. @markp You have discovered the secret of journalism.

    3. sunny stivala
      11th March 2016, 20:02

      “Sandbagging” and or “did not show there full pace” is standard talk when the team one supports the times posted in testing is matched or bettered.
      “it is notoriously difficult to accurately read performance in testing” is also standard talk when the team you don’t support matches or does better times in testing than the team you support.

    4. RaceProUK (@)
      12th March 2016, 8:21


    5. He will have a real problem if he finds himself in a press conference in Adelaide!

      The questions regarding his ‘journey’ and how he ‘got’ would be endless.

      The Daily Fail will no doubt, find a way of tying it in to his party lifestyle and how his dog somehow caused it.


  5. as sure as the ratings must climb, so must Ferrari. Too bad RBR isn’t there to keep them honest.

  6. Part of me thinks Melbourne will be difficult to judge the gap between Mercedes and Ferrari remember last year there, Mercedes were seemingly untouchable then lost at Malaysia, so we have to wait until Bahrain

    1. Merc were 1.3 seconds faster than Ferrari in qualifying for Australia last year a gap only seen again in Barcelona. Last year in testing the gap to Merc looked like 1.5 seconds in testing. The gap this year from testing looks like 0. If Ferrari are right there in Austealia Ferrari maybe ahead elsewhere. For some reason I just cannot imagine it.

  7. I’ve been meaning to ask this the 2 previous years during testing, but never got around to it. What happens to the chassis a team uses during testing. Is it binned after testing has concluded to give both drivers a same odds at the beginning of the year or is it used in any races during the season? It wouldn’t seem fair to give it to one driver. In that case one car woould be tested and worked in while the other is new and unknown. On the other hand the chassis used in testing might fail sooner due to fatigue caused by the miles collected during testing. Seems logical to just keep it as a demo/show car only.
    Never really heard much about the subject.
    If anyone knows let me know.

    1. Good Question. I’d like to know as well.

    2. @Renee
      As far as i know most teams try to break in two chassis during pre-season testing and those will be the ones both drivers start the season with. I don’t thinkt they will bin a chassis unless they find some major problem with it, those beasts are way to expansive to build for that. But i agree that it’s difficult to judge whether the first or the second one would be advantageous. The later one might not have been worked in as well but there is always room for some minor improvements in the manufactoring process i.e. some weight savings.

    3. Maybe @Keithcollantine can shed some light on it?

    4. Ted Kravitz mentioned it somewhat in his daily notebooks, but basically they broke in one chassis for week one and a 2nd chassis for week 2 so both should have reasonably equal running on them. All teams that I am aware of did this aside from ones whom brought interim cars (sauber?) to week 1. Guess they would break in both chassis in the 2nd week, not much prep time at all.

  8. Ferrari would have done a great job just to at least equal Mercedes for this year. Still tipping Mercs to be .5 Faster than Ferrari with Lewis behind the wheel

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