Hamilton: Ferrari are quickest and ‘trying to keep a lid on the hype’

2017 Australian Grand Prix

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Ferrari head into the 2017 F1 season as the favourites to win according to Lewis Hamilton.

The Mercedes driver, whose team has dominated the last three seasons of Formula One, says rival Sebastian Vettel is “trying to keep a lid” on the “hype” which followed their pre-season testing pace.

“I see Ferrari are being the quickest at the moment,” said Hamilton in Melbourne. “I think they will definitely be the favourites. But of course we’ll find out more going into the weekend.”

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2017
Australian Grand Prix build-up in pictures
“It’s interesting to see, Sebastian’s usually a lot more hype and I can tell he’s trying to keep a lid on it. But their pace was obviously great in testing.”

However Vettel predicted Mercedes will remain the team to beat.

“Obviously Mercedes has been in very strong form the last three years,” he said. “Even though they changed the rules I think if the team is strong they build a strong car the year after no matter what you do with the rules.”

Vettel said it is “very clear who is the favourite for all of us” and Ferrari begin the season “trying our best to catch up”.

“How much we have succeeded we will see. As the season goes on the cars will have big progression and all the teams will bring lots of stuff to develop the cars. Whoever’s in a good place in the beginning and still in a good place in the end will have a chance.”

Hamilton also tipped Red Bull to raise their game following a quiet off-season for the four-times champions.

“I’m very keen to see what Red Bull bring because they were quite far behind through testing, at least compared to Ferrari. Didn’t see them bringing many upgrades, or any upgrades, as far as I could see. I’m assuming they’re bringing something here, I’m excited to see what they do bring.”

Mercedes have won all bar eight of the 59 races over the last three seasons. Hamilton said he wants to see “more teams and drivers up at the front fighting for wins” this year. “That’s what racing is all about.”

“As far as I’m aware no team has won back-to-back through rules changes,” he added. “So that is our goal as a team.”

We’re here to win, we’re here to do something no one else has done. I feel whether or not we’re in the right place at this moment in the season we’ll find out but I have every belief in my team that we can do that.”

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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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69 comments on “Hamilton: Ferrari are quickest and ‘trying to keep a lid on the hype’”

  1. I feel like Mercedes say this sort of thing every year and when the first race comes and they still lock out the front row. Im hoping Ferrari are at least able to challenge Mercedes this year but we will have to wait till saturday before we find out the true pecking order.

    Is everyone ready for the weekend!? :-D

    1. It seems merc are repeating this all the time. This guy is a threat, that team is a threat, those guys will go really fast this weekend. And then when the flag drops the mercs run away into the distance. It would be amazing for the championship if there were 2 or even three teams fighting for wins but merc has all the pieces they need to design, build and race the best car with very good drivers. And on the other hand a winning car from ferrari would be the upset of the century especially after how much they tanked in performance from 2015 to 2016.

    2. I just want three teams with race winning performance more often than not. I’m looking forward for more competitive racing at the front this year.

    3. @ least Ferrari aren’t in what I think someone referred to as “Next year is our year” mode like they often were under Montezemolo.

    4. It’s all quite clever from a psychological point of view, @brawngp. You manage expectations for your own team by building the hype over another team which in turns raises the pressure on them being successful while giving your team the chance to say “told you so!” if you do get beaten.

      I’m really hoping there is much more competition this year but logic tells me that Mercedes will still be a long way ahead. But there are many articles by people that were at the testing in Montmeló (Barcelona) which all state that the Ferrari looked very fast and rock solid compared to other cars going through corners or over curbs/bumps.

      Like you, I am mega-excited!!!

    5. Man I can’t hold my excitement any longer. I wish the race was tomorrow haha.

      Lots of things to look forward to, and I hope the Liberty era becomes an era to remember. And they are bring changes throughout the season (maybe) so lots of stuff to keep ourselves updated and see how it goes.

      Calm self….calm self…..calm self…

    6. No-one’s buying it, Lewis. We’ve seen the same thing played out every year. At least this year Toto isn’t the one clutching his pearls: they wheeled out Lewis to perform the “woe is us” act instead. We’ll believe it when – or if – we see it, but we all know that Mercedes were sandbagging, they’ll bring updates to the race, and they have more in reserve. Ferrari may have been lifting at the end of the lap but they likely have less dry powder for the development race. Mercedes have form at this, and Lewis just isn’t credible.

    7. Let’s hope the suspension issue actually serves to even out performance…

  2. The predictable world of F1 hype, by Friday, everyone will down-play their pace and insist to waiting till Q3 to see who is really quickest; and on Saturday, everyone will say its about race pace on Sunday or take your pick (the start, the strategy, the tyres, fuel economy, the checkered flag…..)

  3. Vettel and Lewis both would go the extent saying Manor are the favourites,… I can’t remember a driver ever saying ‘yeah, we’re the obvious favourites’.

    1. @xtwl maybe not the drivers, but Luca di Montezemolo seemed to have a habit of that – if memory serves me, anyway.

      1. Well, considering he won 14 combined World Championships as Ferrari president and another five as team manager during the ’70s he’s quite entitled to talk that way…

        1. You either have a winning car TODAY, or you don’t. Yesterday don’t mean ANYTHING in racing, unless your selling red shirts.

          #1 reason I enjoy watching Ferrari flail. They think they are owed success.

          1. Actually ‘yesterday’ has meant a great deal to Ferrari. If it wasn’t for what they did in all the yesterday’s going back to the fifties, they wouldn’t have been getting all the extra hundreds of millions that have added up to billions over the last 20 years from F1 just for being Ferrari.

  4. Reverse sandbagging?

    1. Willie Gaynor
      23rd March 2017, 12:41

      Bag sanding

      1. Morningview66
        23rd March 2017, 19:37

        Sounds painful!

  5. I would actually like to see Ferrari beating Mercs come race day by a huge margin to shatter this false humility of Mercedes.

    1. In that case the false humility would have been Ferrari’s…

  6. Both are tripping over each other to tell that the other one is faster. Hope they remember to cross the finish line and not wait for some one else to cross first, so they can say ‘We are not the fastest’.

    1. @evered7 – Nice one, that made me laugh out loud!

      “After you, good sir”
      “No, after you, my good man”
      And while this exchange happens, Ricciardo storms in between the pair to take victory!

  7. I wonder what these drivers will say when the flag drops in Australia and some team is obviously in front. Will it still be “Mercedes/Ferrari/RB did a great job, kudos to them, all we can do is try to improve,” or “he is only winning because of the car, let’s make F1 a championship for drivers again” and throwing tantrums and shades at people on the paddock, including their own team.

    1. I think both teams have been pretty plain in stating that they just don’t know. They certainly have guesses, probably very well educated ones, but until Q3, it’s pretty much a guessing game… and even then, Sunday could turn out quite different from Qualifying.

  8. Biggest news of all these press conferences was arguably the fact that Red Bull and Mercedes had to change their ‘dynamic’ suspension. Wonder what effect that will have on who is the fastest. Definitely won’t help Red Bull, that’s for sure.

    1. @hahostolze This is news to me. Not discussed anywhere else. Already a shot in arm for Ferrari for this season.
      Found a link.

      1. So if a suspension system goes down at one speed and comes back at a different speed then really there shouldn’t be any reason for that.

        Ummm… Call me crazy, but isn’t it typical to have different rebound/damping settings on performance suspension?

    2. Which press conference?

  9. We’ll see soon enough which of the them was telling the truth.

  10. Wouldn’t it be funny if Merc and Ferrari were all watching each other carefully with a “Hmmm, they look a lot faster than us . . .” and Sauber or McLaren snuck up onto the front row!

    1. Won’t happen… unfortunately!

    2. McLaren are sandbagging

      1. @johnmilk, Haha. Yes but that’s because McLaren are using actual sand.

        1. @mortyvicar that explains a lot

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      23rd March 2017, 11:33

      Is the McLaren capable of completing a timed lap? That’d mean they’d have to do an entire out-lap without breaking down and a timed lap….

  11. Hamilton said he wants to see “more teams and drivers up at the front fighting for wins” this year. “That’s what racing is all about.”

    I remember when Rosberg did something a bit like that in 2015 in Australia

  12. Lol merc are the best sandbagers ever, in the testing side by side kimi vs bottas video, u can see through most the third sector the merc wasnt reving to its most and not as took it way easy and even upshifted too soon near the start/finish line. Wouldn’t surprise me if they ran the engine at lower level. Merc didn’t even fully try to beat kimis time lol.

    1. Vettel did the only true sandbagging in sector 3. Taking unto account that vettel is consistently .2 or .3 faster than raikkonnen, and Raikkonen missed several apexes in that lap, ferrari could have done a 1.18.0. I don’t think merecedes has it in them to even match that.

    2. petebaldwin (@)
      23rd March 2017, 11:31

      I wouldn’t say it’s sandbagging – we all already know that they have an extra 20% in the engine that they can use when they need it. It’ll be close between them and Ferrari throughout practice, Q1 and Q2 but then they’ll flip a switch and go a second quicker in Q3.

      1. not likely this year with the oil burning loophole closed – NO MORE QUALIFYING ADVANTAGE FOR MERCEDES. Hamilton knows the state of play, Mercedes were forced to change their suspension late in the game. Ferrari have made inroads, every commentator from the Spanish tests at the track said the Ferrari looked on rails, while the Mercedes with so many fiddly aero attachments looked less balanced. in qualifying Mercedes will find enough to “match” Ferrari but not beat them.

  13. Lid on Hype? That lid was unable to contain the hype.

    In two days we will know if anyone has a second pace advantage in hand…

  14. Andrew Purkis
    23rd March 2017, 10:27

    Id say Ferrari have a good car and have closed the gap in race pace to within 0.3?

    but its all about the qualy modes

    if Merc still can turn it up and lock out the front row its all a bit moot although hopefully merc have sussed out why they seem to make such inconsistent starts

  15. petebaldwin (@)
    23rd March 2017, 11:29

    F1 is such a weird sport… I can’t think of any others where competitors regularly downplay their chances and talk up the opposition.

    Can you imagine a boxer saying “I’ve been training hard but I think I’ll probably get knocked out fairly early on?” Or Usain Bolt saying “I’m fast but have you seen this other guy? He’s much better than me…”

    1. i think it happens quite often nowadays…
      … maybe a ploy to reduce pressure on a team/individual
      … or preparing an excuse just in case.

      eg. Chelsea vs Manchester United last week. Conte kept saying United had best squad

      1. It does happen more lately. The Patriots have done it for years in the NFL. Before they play Cleveland (the worst team in the NFL) they heap praises on their young talent and their coaching staff. Then, they go out and post a 30 lead by halftime. As a Pats fan, I love it. But I’m sure every other teams fans get disgusted.
        In F1 we all like close racing. (Except when it is OUR team/driver dominating! :)
        Such as it is with any sport. IMHO

  16. Vettel: Mercedes are quickest and ‘trying to keep a lid on the hype’

    1. Hamilton: Ferrari are favourites.
      Vettel: Mercedes are favourites.

      In that case, would you swap cars?
      Both: No.

  17. These mind games get so boring. No one is ever boastful anymore.

    Ron wanted his team to win EVERY race and they nearly did it to.

  18. I am so bored of hearing anyone from Mercedes banging on about this threat or that threat or whatever. They say the competition has closed up and then come the race they vanish uncontested down the road. Such threat, wow.

    To be honest I truly hope Ferrari have closed that gap right up or even surpassed it – it’d be interesting to see Mercedes on the back foot for one thing but mainly it’d be great to have a proper fight at the front between several teams.

    Unfortunately I tend to think Mercedes are just going to disappear off down the road again though.

    1. you say this like Mercedes has dominated for ten years. they dominated for 3 years because of engine power alone. this year is realistically likely to see change in the order because of aero change. Ferrari has been on rails in testing.. and fastest in lap times on all tyres. I predict Ferrari will win Melbourne.

      1. Yeh it’s a good job for Merc that no-one else had their engine these last three years.

      2. they dominated for 3 years because of engine power alone.

        Nope. Just nope. If you knew anything about F1 you’d know that isn’t true.

  19. Funny, usually I don’t put much stock in talk of sandbagging, but somehow this year… for me if one team was really sandbagging it was Red Bull, somehow got a feeling their car has something more than meets the eye. Anyhoo, fingers crossed for a three team battle all season.

    1. Red Bull will come on very strong. But if you look at their history. They are always late getting things together at the beginning of each year. Maybe because Newey tries to work on things til the zero hour. Also consider that the removal of the not FRIC but still FRIC suspension bits being removed may have set them (and Merecedes for that matter) back a few tenths from their potential best lap times. It may take both RBR and Merc a few weekends to come to grips with the changes in aero consistancy without the stability provided by the trick suspension. Heres hoping anyway. :) It would bge great fun for Ferrari to be fastest and have RBR and Merc have to develop over the season and catch them.
      Besides, I haven’t been this excited about a season in almost 20 years. :)

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        23rd March 2017, 13:55

        It seems to be a different philosophy. Newey was saying to Ted Kravitz that whilst the other big players brought near-finished articles to Catalunya aero-wise, RB’s mission was simply to ensure they get the base car correct, and worry about tacking on other bits later.

        If you look at the wings/bargeboards etc. it would appear this is the case; and more complicated aero additions to the RB could come later in the season. Newey’s comment in itself might be a bluff though… As other’s have noted on here, this sleek design is probably necessary to counteract the power deficit of that TAG Heuer power unit. You just cant get the quartz these days.

  20. So if Ferrari are quickest will the pundits go back to talking about how ‘Great’ Vettel is again, comparing him to Fangio etc. Which is strange as we havn’t heard much recently.

    1. He won driver of the year award in 2015 without winning the championship. Not so bad.

      Last year it was painfully obvious he was over delivering and making better strategy calls than his own pit wall.

      That probably caused his late season form but 2016 was more team/car let downs – seb and Kimi were the only ones on the team that seemed to care.

      Sebs doing just fine. I mean it’s not like he lost a championship to his teammate while in the most dominate car in history :-)

  21. “We’re only going to be a second ahead! We’re floundering lads!”

    Nice to see a pokerface still, but Mercedes will still win!

  22. I wonder if Hamilton would be so complimentary if Bottas were quicker than him.

    1. To really cover himself he should of said Ferrari and Bottas have the fastest cars but I will do my best.

    2. He wont be

      1. @steveetienne Yeah like drivers are supposed to be totally fine with their team mate being quicker. Lewis Hamilton of course the exception.

        So much absolute rubbish from ‘fans’ of the sport before even a wheel has turned.

  23. Mercedes didn’t use the trick suspension at every race last year so they already now how to setup the car without it. RBR will be more affected with the recent suspension change especially if the Renualt PU hasn’t got enough power down the straights.

  24. Wow, Lewis attempting to play the underdog card. Did he include the part about growing up living in a van with his dad down by the river?

    1. Yup…the Crymea River I think it was.

  25. Ferrari have flattered to deceive in acing testing in recent seasons, but hopefully this season’s different. Greater developmental space through the season bodes well for competition as does Ross Brawns charge of matters sporting. I hope both Ferrari and Red Bull step up to Mercedes starting this weekend.

    Should be shortest ever odds for the Finnish national anthem being played post-race on Sunday…

  26. Josh (@canadianjosh)
    23rd March 2017, 23:53

    Off topic but is anyone absolutely thrilled with all of the social media we re getting from the circuits, teams, drivers and F1? It’s awesome. Not nearly as good as being at the track but holy cow, makes you feel apart of it all week.

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