Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai International Circuit, 2016

Ferrari still a threat to Mercedes – Wolff

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In the round-up: Toto Wolff says that Mercedes still believe that Ferrari have the potential to challenge them at the front this season.

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Has Rosberg’s six race winning streak been down to good fortune? @gdewilde argues otherwise.

Why does everybody keep saying that Rosberg’s recent streak of race successes is due to ‘luck’?

During his tenure with Mercedes he has shown to be a skilful driver and has combined that with great raw qualifying speed. He has never hung his head and submitted himself as “only a nr.2 driver”, even though he had to cope with Schumacher first and, now, Hamilton as his teammates AND even though he has lost 2 consecutive championships to a superior Hamilton. I mean the guy has won 6 consecutive races now! What more can you ask from a guy who has been vilified by most of the die-hard Hamilton fan-base for being too slow, too weak and not a capable driver.

Yes, he has had things going his way recently, but don’t forget that he didn’t start the first 2 races from pole position, he didn’t botch up his starts (although his China start wasn’t great) enough to get himself into trouble and he is just keeping he’s cool at the moment.

I say: Go Rosberg, keep your focus, make your father proud and keep on streaking. The racing is good enough behind you to keep the masses entertained for a while. kudos!

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On this day in F1

Happy birthday to Anthony Davidson who is 37 today.

Also on this day 45 years ago Tyrrell, who had previously raced customer cars, scored their first victory as a full constructor, in the 1971 Spanish Grand Prix.

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Will Wood
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69 comments on “Ferrari still a threat to Mercedes – Wolff”

  1. ColdFly F1 (@)
    18th April 2016, 0:19

    Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer acknowledged Hulkenberg had been trying to create a gap ahead but said it was for safety reasons in the crowded pitlane rather than to gain an advantage.

    Can’t believe he said that whilst keeping a straight face.

    1. I don’t think having several cars just behind each other in the pit lane is a lot safer than driving too slow coming into the pit lane.

      Also, this isn’t the first time something like this had happened: https://youtu.be/zQjcVHXkY6Y

  2. Think everyone needs to chill out with this obsession over Rosberg’s 6 victories. We can waffle all day about the psychology but in the end we all watch the races, we all see the nitty gritty of what goes on out there.

    First of all this is 2016: the 3 from last year count for squat right now. Second, to win this 2016 WDC which will be the longest ever, we need to see demonstration not that he can finish 1st but that he can beat his competitors to the flag on pace in a straight fight. He needs to be able to do this from one race to the next and cannot rely on fortuitous circumstances. And no the results from 2015 do not prove anything for that: overall he won 6 in total when his teammate took 10 and the WDC with three rounds to spare.

    Fact is we have still yet to see a straight fight between himself and Lewis this year, and even then it will take several to develop a picture of whether or not Rosberg has reached another level sufficient to win the WDC. People need to stop counting their chickens before they’ve hatched.

    1. Yes of course everything has to run it’s course, but just to add to cotd of @gdewilde I would remind folks that this is Nico’s only 3rd season of having a WDC capable car, and he is going up against a teammate that he himself, along with millions of others, says is the benchmark. So either LH is nothing special in reality, or NR has a big task at hand and has more than a few times shown he can take it to LH, and that means something. If it doesn’t mean something then you are saying LH is not all that he is made out to be. Folks have to decide which it is.

      As to ‘straight fights’ let’s recall how difficult it is for these extremely similar cars, extremely similarly driven, to get by each other in dirty air as made blatantly clear by LH many times during the last 3 races of last year. Let’s remember to give Nico a bit of slack for at times being handcuffed in LH’s dirty air…ie. not ‘lacking in racecraft’ at least few of the times that people seemed so ready to dismiss him in the last two years.

    2. @newdecade I agree his three wins of last season don’t really matter but that doesn’t take away it’s quite a special feature to win 6 GPs in a row.

    3. Not sure we will see a straight fight between Mercedes guys.

      Mercedes is so poor at following another car we will probably see just a simple 1-2 when they are close, all determined by first lap squabble and thats about it.

      @xtwl That does not take away however that he did 6 wins in a row (over two seaons) and won first 3 of the season. History suggests people who win 6 in a row or first 3 in a season tend to be world champions that year. So much so infact that there never has been anyone with 3 wins in opening races not to win the championship.

      What Lewis has done last year was get ahead of teammate more times than teammate got ahead of him. Right now Nico is simply getting ahead of everyone and Lewis had 3 unclean races. 2 by him, 1 fault of the team. He is now points wise certainly on the back foot. Lewis is Lewis, can he win title this year? Yes. Is it probable? Not anymore it isn’t. We all thought Lewis is gonna walk allover Nico just because he has done so 2 years in a row. But there is none of this walking over quite happening yet.

      1. I don’t buy it Mercs are poor in traffic, it’s the same with all cars but due to Mercs speed they have more to lose. Do you not think this is a myth along with Ferrari special starts that we saw in 1 race out of 3? The latest one is Red Bull speed in slow speed corners, we saw it this race but until these patterns are consistent across many races they are just the media creating stories.

        1. “I don’t buy it Mercs are poor in traffic”

          I have to say I think it’s a possibility. We know HAM can overtake, and yet this year he has really struggled.

          To be honest, though, I think this has more to do with the field being closer than last year. Engines and aero packages are all that bit closer, which makes it more difficult for the Merc to pass.

          Now, it could be that the Merc has always had a disadvantage in dirty air (compared to it’s competitors), but their advantage in terms of engine and other aero has masked it. But then, this is all speculation…

      2. @jureo I’m not sure mercs are any worse in traffic than anyone else, we’ve seen Hamilton having to come trough twice with a damaged car. May have been much different with his car in too condition

  3. Not surprised at Vettel’s changed opinion now he’s cooled down a bit.

    1. His adrenaline was quite high at that time.

    2. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
      18th April 2016, 1:34

      Probably saw the replay.

      1. Lol and remembered what DK reminded him of….’we’re both on the podium.’

        1. The difference between DK and SV…. DK is happy with a podium.

          1. Yeah probably he saw a replay, but also tucked trophy in the bag. He maximized his result yesterday, It would be tough to fight Nico, so second place is best he could get anyhow.

            Funny how Vettel is turning from spoiled brat to real gentleman these days. Public apology etc. I guess in Ferrari he has now arrived to his peak.

    3. it was clearly a racing incident, both Kimi and Kviat were heading towards the same racing line so Vettel could have only braked heavily, which probably would’ve caused a bigger mayhem behind. Also, everything happened so fast that no driver could have had the instincts to escape unharmed.

  4. Toto needs to resist the temptation of spewing the same nonsense every time a reporter puts a microphone in his face. Mercedes are still way ahead. Period! Until Ferrari win a race and do so with regularity then it’ll be a bit more believable.

    1. I don’t think it is nonsense to be publicly diplomatic and not taunt opponents arrogantly by implying they’re not a threat. Nico is not out their saying he’s now got LH covered either. The opposite for Nico…’Lewis is still the benchmark’

      1. Because the age old adage always applies. Pride comes before a fall.

    2. Even Ferrari themselves know there’s no chance to win either championship, but Toto seems like a really ardent supporter and Ferrari’s #1 fan. The Merc drivers and Toto are making Ferrari sound like they have a few trick up their sleeves, but instead, this is Ferrari at their peak with all the tricks on the table.

      1. No it’s not. Ferrari has been running a detuned engine spec so far with no chance of turning it up yet.

        Far to unreliable, this has been known since testing.

        Vettel even said in post race interviews (Sky I think) that they have something coming and that will change everything.

        1. Hm, I get that. And sure, Ferrari WILL be able to make life harder for Mercedes when they bring updates to run at max power.

          But then again, Ferrari have always had that “next season/in a few races/later we will be there. But when in the last 8 seasons have they had that NOW when they needed it? While they are playing catchup, Mercedes rakes in the points and they have a solid lead in the constructors already and a decent head start in the drivers championship too. Those will first have be be overcome before Ferrari can challenge for anything more than winning some races and making the battle between Rosberg and Hamilton more colourful by getting in between.

          1. This is now two seasons in a row that Ferrari have had a class leading car. Something that couldn’t be said in the past 6 years since Alonso joined the team. It is not all related to PU as well as Williams are demonstrating.

            Net to Net, they have improved just as Mercedes from last season or maybe better as well. Let us give the new management and drivers some credit they deserve. Post Spain or Canada, we will see an established order since most teams would have brought all PU related updates to the field.

            Not sure if Mercs are bringing any, but it doesn’t look like they need one at the moment. @bascb

          2. I admit it’s a broken record playing of ferraris upgrade story.

            One thing to note, the detuned mode story isn’t from Ferrari, or at least it’s not an official statement.

            It’s from sources inside Ferrari and has been reported on in technical journals and websites. If you ask Ferrari, officially they are running at max spec and ”working” on more performance.

        2. As a huge Ferrari fan I would love to think come Spain they have upgrades that allow them just to turn the switch and use all the engine power then just be in front, after years of watching F1 and following Ferrari I doubt this will happen, they may get a few tenths closer but they maybe already better than they 1st appear. Both Ferraris and Hamilton have had the same start to the season suffering damage, reliability, tactical errors and driver errors. Nico has been great and ticked all boxes bar the 1st 2 poles of the year. Over another 18 races driver form and a bit of luck should even out.

    3. @72defender,
      Don’t get mad at Toto, it’s not his fault that other teams can’t catch up.
      Get mad at Ferrari.

    4. Not only that Red Bull is now a threat aswell. Did you see them? 39 seconds behind looking real threatening.

      1. F1 is getting really interesting this year, the races have been good, Renault and Honda appear to be making headway, the midfield is crazy, there is no team that just hangs at the back 5 seconds a lap off the pace, they are all in the mix, and on their day it maybe that Ferrari can challenge for wins and Red Bull. The timing of next years big changes on the aero feels a little mistimed just as everyone is getting to grips with the rules brought in in 2014. I can imagine the 2017 rules being delayed until 2020 apart from the tokenless engines.

      2. and why where they 39sec behind?? Which race did you see??

        1. I am just trying to troll Toto’s threatening Ferrari…

    5. Sad fact is that Ferrari could and should be challenging, but one thing after the next is blowing that up in their faces.
      Its like Williams in 2014. They should have won at least one race, but either driver error, strategy error, pit problems or reliability issues threw away all their best opportunities.

    6. RaceProUK (@)
      18th April 2016, 11:23

      Is showing humility and respect for one’s opponents somehow distasteful to you?

  5. “Lewis Hamilton walked into Mercedes’ hospitality, shared a warm embrace with his team boss and sat down to conduct his media duties with a smile. No tantrums, no Ali G-inspired outbursts.”
    Something’s wrong with Lewis. No more whining, no more blame game. He really enjoy his life now with smile and snapchat. Less fighting spirit.
    Lewis still had all the talent he need. But Lewis has became too nice now, something I always complaint directly to Rosberg twitter account for the last two years.

    1. Yeah something is def wrong with Lewis. It seems like his hunger is gone. Now he matched Senna in all but pole positions, his dream is gone.

      Sure he says he wants to do 8 titles to be greatest ever… but it does not seem sincere.

      Let’s hope he gets some mojo back so we see a proper title fight.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        18th April 2016, 11:47

        @jureo – I can understand it to a point. Most drivers admit that F1 isn’t what it used to be and on top of that, Hamilton is already a multiple F1 champion. Winning another is great but without any real competition from other teams, it just feels a bit empty.

        His first Championship was epic – a real battle from start to finish. His last 2 have come about because he beat a driver who we already knew he was faster than with the rest of the field unable to compete due to huge variances in the equipment available for purchase to different teams from F1’s suppliers.

        His last 2 titles have felt like like Barcelona winning La Liga – it’s an achievement but in all honesty, it would have had to be considered a failure if he hadn’t won it!

        1. ‘due to huge variances in the equipment available for purchase to different teams from F1’s suppliers.’

          The only supplier part is the tyres, are you saying all teams do not receive the same type of tyres?

        2. Yeah essentially that… Look at his interviews… There is not an ounce of fighting spirit in him. He is chilling, being cool and going through the motions.

          Lewis of old would say.. I am gonna take pole, start 6th take 4 on start, and overtake Nico before DRS.

      2. I see it a bit differently. He’s always said he wanted to achieve 3 championships, so now he’s done it, he’s taken the pressure off himself. That, combined with having the most dominant car for the 3rd year running, he’s not really had to fight anyone else but his teammate. This year, due to various circumstances he’s found himself down the order after lap 1, and I think he’s just enjoying the battles.

        The evidence I think is in his interviews. In Australia, after he had a bad start, he got to overtake and go wheel to wheel with a few guys. He said in the interviews that he’d had a fun and enjoyable race.

        I think he said similar in Bahrain. Obviously, he may have reacted differently had the damage from being Bottas-ed resulted in a DNF.

        So while we’re seeing it as he’s lost motivation, I think this year he doesn’t feel aggrieved if he doesn’t win, provided he had fun on the way. His performance on track is still the same, but what he wants from a race weekend has changed – he now just wants to have fun.

    2. Nothing wrong, still fast but not getting angry when things go wrong only helps, he is filtering out the bs, remember 2011 when he was getting angry all the time? He has achieved his childhood goal of 3 titles to equal Senna so now maybe has to find a new target. After years of battling hard for titles he may be having a mental feet up moment like Vettel in 2014 but I doubt it.

    3. I am no longer inclined to admire Lewis’ new calm demeanor. I think it is not working.
      After the disaster of a weekend by Mercedes at least on his side of the garage, he should not be calm. He should simply tell them such should not happen again. No smiling about your engine packing up before qualifications, 2 races into a season, after thousands of miles of testing. And then having a russian roullette of tyre stops in one race. Doesn’t make sense.
      One more thing, whoever it is that is probably the weakest link among the mechanics that moved over from Nico’s side of the garage after the personnel shuffle at Mercedes should be fished out and sent somewhere else.
      So I say bin the calmness and smiles and all that cos history will not remember him for being calm while losing but for the championships he won and how they were achieved.
      Seb to my liking puts his game face on once he turns up to a race weekend and he makes sure he maximises all chances as soon as they materialise. Like him or not he doesn’t really care that much. And if things don’t go his way, he is certainly gonna give you a piece of his own mind.

      1. Thinking of it now, Seb’s biopic will be a heck of story and a picture to see when eventually done.
        His career is shaping up to be a producer’s gold mine. From the victory with Torro Rosso in ’08 that brought him to our attention to the eff Webber agreement at Malaysia in 2013 while chasing down his fourth consecutive championship victory, his shocking shambolic slump in 2014 and his chiding of Danii Kvyat after the race in China yesterday among other things will be an interesting story in the future.
        I look forward to that.

        1. dont forget his response to 2014… Driver of the year in 2015.

  6. Keith- today was also the 45th anniversary of the first slick tires used in an F1 Grand Prix- first used at that ’71 Spanish GP at Montjuic Park. And Dunlop had pulled out of the 1971 F1 tire war, leaving Goodyear and Firestone to duke it out.

    1. Very cool! Thanks for that

  7. Vettel did eaxctly what some said he would, once he cooled off and saw a replay.

  8. Its disheartening to see just how awful Mclaren were. Fernando and Jenson were like the cars you pass playing Speed Race back in the old arcades.

    Mclaren are a lower mid field team at best. I cant see them cracking Q3 on merit. I also think that it Mclaren are hiding behind Honda to a certain extent. The Torro Rosso are running a year old Ferrari engine and see to be going quite well. Mclaren’s chassis development is probably not where it needs to be, hence its not all down to the power unit. If Red Bull can finish 3rd and 4th and Renault and scrapping the barrel at the tail end of the field, what does that tell you?

    If Mclaren had class leading chassis, the gains made by Honda over the winter would have translated to better performance on track, which hasnt quite transpired. For all their talk, Mclaren is still very far away from where they need to be. Unless they find a silver bullet somewhere, consistent point finishes will be still prove to rare for the team this year.

    1. For all their talk, Mclaren is still very far away from where they need to be. Unless they find a silver bullet somewhere, consistent point finishes will be still prove to rare for the team this year.

      Agree completely. If fact it just goes to show how low the expectations from Mclaren are. From targeting podiums and moving a massive step forward, to consolidating their position in mid field and distancing themselves from the back markers.

      I think both Mclaren and Honda have dropped the ball. Mclaren for fantasising about the size zero approach, and then for not executing that strategy in to a class of the field chassis, and for Honda, for being a 1000 miles off the benchmark performance and reliability expected from a Formula 1 PU.

      It’s ridiculous how Mclaren haven’t learnt from Ferrari’s mistakes in 2014 regarding sacrifices in PU for aero gain, what’s even more shocking is that despite their 2015 learnings, they have stuck to the same failure of a philosophy, and are still sticking to it for 2017. It’s shameful how a new team like Haas have done a better job than a resource rich, heritage team like Mclaren which is being drive by 2 WDCs

    2. Mclaren haven’t made a decent chassis for a while. Even their 2012 one wasn’t great from the start of the season to the end and they had issues with chassis development and setup. From 2009 they have had more bad cars than good and Honda can’t take all the blame for that.

      1. 2012 wasn’t a great chassis but it was still the fastest car on track….

        1. Only for portions of the season though, which was my point. You look at races like Silverstone and they were nowhere. At Canada Button was lapped.

          1. Yeah he was lapped by he guy driving the other Mclaren so it seemed more like Button problems than Mclaren problems there.

      2. To be fair to them. They had the 2nd best chassis in 2011 and probably the best in 2012, but overall the car just wasn’t reliable enough.

  9. Funny how views shift. Here we have a completely new team that scored in its first and second race and now managed to finish with both cars running in their 3rd race and it is branded a “horror race” for them?

    I think it still is far better than most other newcomers have started, I see this as another achievement.

    1. @bascb Surely it was only Grosjean’s race that could be deemed a horror. Gutierrez could just be described as ‘anonymous’.

      1. He finished, be it at the end ofthe field. Sure, he did not get points, or really see any pace from the car after he got his new front wing. But for a new team, not being able to make the tyres work is rather a show that they belong than anywhere near “horror” in my book @optimaximal.

    2. its all relative…..

  10. I haven’t noticed anybody vilifying Rosberg.

    1. For what? I didn’t realise he needed vilifying :/

      1. Exactly @Martin I was referring to the COTD, which is a bit tribal.

    2. Didn’t you see him slowing Kimi down at Turn 1? He only did that, because he wanted LH to loose his nose some 20 cars later

  11. Charlie Whiting is really starting to annoy me of late. You can’t just laugh off a recovery vehicle parked in the line of fire. Its just not excuseable and i’m pretty sure he should be the one to take the flack for that. To then try turn things on the drivers:

    “We decided we would try and remove some of the water as it appeared drivers were actually capable of ignoring the fact that the grip of the track had changed”.

    I mean, clearly the drivers should be fully aware of a stream flowing blind side of a bump running the width of the track. I mean, clearly Charlie knew it was there and knew that competent drivers would not have a problem with it.
    Sarcasm over.

    1. [blockquote]I mean, clearly the drivers should be fully aware of a stream flowing blind side of a bump running the width of the track.[/blockquote]

      @eurobrun Actually yes, the drivers should fully aware of that fact, given it’s in clear view on the camera, just across the pitwall if someone care to peek and the team still can tell them on radio of potential safety hazard at the track.

    2. “You can’t just laugh off a recovery vehicle parked in the line of fire”

      This! I just read his comments on this it is awful. Who cares if it wasn’t track run off the drivers were driving DIRECTLY towards it on the straight. Imagine a situation like with Buemis Torro Rosso in 2010. That happened on the straight before and he helpless slid at full speed for ages. If that had happened one corner later than he would have been plowing straight into the area that car was. Was Bianchi’s accident really that low ago that this incident is deemed as “low key”? It is completely unforgivable that is what it is.

      1. Vehicles on track has always annoyed me long before Bianchis accident. They are so into adding the halo idea which would have done nothing to help in any crash over the past 30 years but still have vehicles on track.

        Off topic but instead of safety cars why do they not all use their pitLane limiter? No one loses out because of random circumstance, the race can re start straight away and no one can cheat by going too fast like under the VSC?

        1. Its not quite true that no one would lose out. Drivers will lose (or gain) on their rivals based speed of the section of the track they were on when the pitlimit was enforced.

    3. But a slow Force India coming into the pits? Ho ho ho … that’s REALLY dangerous!


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