Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas, Albert Park, 2017

Vettel: “I still believe Mercedes are ahead”

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In the round-up: Sebastian Vettel says he believes Mercedes are still the team to beat despite Ferrari winning the first race of the season.

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Pigmer was among those who got a closer look at the cars than they expected on Sunday:

I was at the race yesterday and it was awesome! admittedly lacking overtakes but cars are beautiful… just remove the extra wings on top of the shark fins!

Regarding the track invasion, it was a bit surprising, they had an official race control car going around with green lights, so fans started to rush the track. Problem was that this car was in front of the F1! Hopefully there was no incident and it got me great shots of Vettel celebrating by ecstatic fans!

I was too late to be at the podium but ended up right in front of scrutineering garages with all cars parked there: it’s a fan dream coming true, we could have almost touched the cars! Again, got so many close up shots and it was quite striking to the see how intricate the Ferrari and Mercedes are. The Red Bull looks pretty much ‘unfinished’ to me a bit like past years Ferrari that were a bit too tidy to perform.

Last but not least, it’s a very welcome sight to finally have so many colors on the grid!

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  • 63 comments on “Vettel: “I still believe Mercedes are ahead””

    1. “Boullier maintains there is no search underway by McLaren”; they passed that stage and a deal is almost done and dusted ;)

    2. If Vettel or Hamilton win the Driver’s Championship – in a way they’ll *both* be winners:

      “See – I told you they were quicker!”

      1. @geekzilla9000

        I expect this to go on all the way till the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi. May the best car win.

    3. Hehe. News is a funny bussiness. Mclaren is now getting all kinds of rumors. Truth is, they are paid a lot to carry that donky in their chassis, Alonso is paid a lot to drive it. Much more than he would be paid at any other midfield team.

      No top team will take him, WEC has lower saleries and not that much better cars anymore.

      He can retire, but F1 doesn’t get much better for him and them.

    4. As long as Bottas can keep as close to Hamilton for the rest of the season as he did in Melbourne he’s a safe bet for keeping that seat.

      Alonso unfortunately has age working against him. Would he be a better option for 2018? Most likely yes. But how about by 2025? He’s not a long term prospect like Bottas.

      Ferrari will never take him back, Mercedes don’t need him, Red Bull gave their own channel for drivers. McLaren is all he has resembling a top team. If I were him I’d be eyeing Williams. Probably not going to net him a championship, but I think he could grab a victory or two with them.

      1. You left out Renault. I think returning to the team where he won his 2 world championships has a certain symmetry about it.

        1. Not by accident. I fancy the chances of a Mercedes powered, Paddy Lowe engineered Williams above those of Renault. Aside from Hulkenberg they currently have zero notable talent in the team at present.

        2. Probably the most unlikely to happen. First off all Alonso himself would not consider Renault a team that is able to compete at the top in the upcoming years. Second, even if Renault had the money to pay Alonso they should rather spend it on development.

          1. I respectfully disagree..
            Renault (Ghosen) has said in the past he would like Alonso to drive for Renault once again.


            I think Alonso would be open to driving for them if McHonda doesn’t improve vastly by summer’s break. They have deep pockets and build their own engines – no reason why they couldn’t be competitive with the big three. After all, RB uses their engines and aren’t doing too bad.

            Since Merc, Red and RB have their seats filled (Bottas will most likely get a long term deal), it may be the only logical place to go – he could replace Palmer.

            1. Its entirely possible that Renault could be battling the big three by as early as 2019. The Enstone squad hasn’t forgotten how to win championships.. and I think Alonso would have already started talks with them. Alonso and the Hulk makes a pretty formidable line up as well.

      2. As long as Bottas can keep as close to Hamilton for the rest of the season …

        … then Hamilton might not be in that other seat in 2018.
        He certainly will not keep his motivation if losing again; this time to a real Finn.


        Alonso unfortunately has age working against him.

        Did not show his age when running his McLaren-Donkey (see @jureo above) in 10th place in Melbourne :p

        1. @f1-liners I think what @philipgb meant is in regard to the future. Why would Merc sign him if he will be there for at best two year? When they can try to go for a driver with the future ahead?

          1. hence my cheeky :p @johnmilk

            But the first part is more serious. There might not be a Hamilton next year; and I don’t think Mercedes will be ready to risk the title on Bottas yet; they need a proven world class driver.

            1. it will be tough, very tough for Bottas @f1-liners

              IMO we still don’t where his talent can take him, but to beat Lewis right in the first year I think would be asking too much of him.

              And as long as Mercedes gives Hamilton the freedom he wants he will stray there, I believe.

              Surely it will be interesting to see how things develop throughout the season

            2. I can see FA replacing LH at Merc for 2018. For me not a question of LH wanting to stay or not…I’m not convinced Merc will want to retain him, even if he wins the WDC this year. FA to Merc with VB…LH to replace KR at Ferrari alongside SV.

            3. Robbie

              You’re a funny guy.

              Just one question, what makes you think Mercedes won’t want to retain Hamilton even if he wins the WDC?

        2. Robbie.

          What even though he is contracted to the end of 18?

          Honestly some people on here…

          1. @Drg Yeah forgot that. See my comment a few posts down. Thought he was on his last year…don’t know why I thought that because if that was the case there’d already be a ton of buzz about 2018. Sorry about that.

      3. @philipgb, as an aside, it has to be said that most of the top end of the grid would be getting on quite a bit by 2025.

        By 2025, Hamilton would be 40, Vettel 38 and Bottas would be 36 – if Vettel and Hamilton were still going by then, both of them would probably be past Barrichello’s record of 323 races and be homing in on about 350 races each, and even Bottas would be in the top 10 in terms of number of race starts by then.

        In fact, by then a number of drivers on the current grid would, if still driving in 2025, be in their mid to late 30’s by then (Ricciardo, Grosjean and Perez would also all be between 35 and 38 by then).

        Alonso, by comparison, would be 44 by 2025 – comparatively old by current standards, but we saw how Schumacher was able to come back in his early 40’s (and, in retrospect, perhaps his performances against Nico weren’t quite so bad after all) and, similarly, de la Rosa raced into his early 40’s.

        1. Even then ALO would not be chasing all records; the great Fangio was 46 when crowned WDC in ’57 ;)

        2. I think Hamilton would retire as soon as there is another driver on the grid he feels is better than him and he no longer has the capacity to improve. So I don’t think we could put an accurate prediction on him for retirement age. Up until his mid-thirties, I think it’s reasonable to expect he will have the capacity to improve as a racer even if outright speed starts to slip away. And of course it’s a matter of another driver coming along who he feels does honestly best him even as his decline begins.

          Vettel and Bottas will be on the grid then still I expect. Unless Vettel has too long a dry spell of championships. Bottas will just about be in his prime.

          Even if Alonso is still going by then, he’s no longer going to be in his prime, and however much longer he does still go, Bottas is always going to have 8 more years left in the tank so will always be the longer term prospect.

        3. @kgn11 Check that…I forgot LH was at Merc through 2018. So FA beside LH for next year and no LH at Merc after 2018. Only thing that would change that is a VB WDC in which case they’d retain him alongside LH but that is not expected.

          1. Actually that would be fun.

            Much better idea…

    5. What have you done, Fernando?!? Things kinda look over at the top of F1 for FA. I’m almost sure there’s no way to get a seat at Mercedes, Ferrari or RBR (at RBR it looks like impossible). His only hope is… McLaren-Honda. They still seem to be (based on their history, of course) the only team who can take the fight to Mercedes, Ferrari, RBR. The rest of the teams may have the brains, pride, desire to do it… but not the money. Even if McLaren will build a winning car in the next 2-3 years, might be too for him because of the age and/or because of some young gun. He’s still “hungry”, but there’s no chance to get the “food”. The money won’t stop that “hunger”, so I don’t want to be in his shoes… money apart.

        1. Flavio isnt there anymore…

    6. The flexing on the front wing of the Ferrari is immense! Although I disagree with the commenter, I don’t see how it could be torsional – but I also don’t see how this could be done with negative pressure (on the high-side!?).

      However they are doing it, it looks like a massive feat of engineering!

      1. Massive feat? Isn’t it just carbon fibre that is designed thin enough to flex? Surely if they had to they could just beef those up a bit.

    7. I had a premonition this morning, Alonso to Renault next year, Button to return to a reinvigorated McHonda, take the World Championship, and re-retire.

      1. I had made a prediction of Alonso to Renault sometime in 2015. I think he should end his career at the team that gave him the 2 titles… it will be a heck of a lot more satisfying than driving for a GP2 team. If Renault make progress this season, and Mercedes doesn’t poach Alonso, then it’s an expected move for him.

        Regarding an invigorated ‘Mclaren Honda’…. are you sure it was a premonition or a dream?

        1. Shaun Robinson (@)
          29th March 2017, 15:53

          More like a Hallucination!

    8. McLaren might be looking for andher engine but… What happened at Australia? The team wasn’t even in the top ten fastest pit stops, all the reliability issues during the weekend were unrelated to Honda and the car isn’t an aerodynamic wonder.

      Sure, Honda’s lack of power is much more significant but it’s not like McLaren have a Mercedes chassis with a rubbish engine. The chasis is also bad, or at least not as good as a proper McLaren should be.

      1. @fer-no65 well sherlock, the mclaren chassis has been rubbish since 2012, you must have missed the memo. Of course we would have seen *some* sign over the last few years if the car was any good apart from the engine. Remember when the renault engine was rubbish? Well Red Bull had some car, and that clearly showed at times.

        1. @mrboerns All I’m saying is that maybe it’s time for McLaren to stop accusing Honda of everything. All through 2015 and 2016 they were saying that without that engine, the car would be a grand prix winner and it’s not true. As you say, Red Bull also had a rubbish engine and they were very competitive. It’s such an old news when they talk about Mercedes engines or Honda taking the blame…

      2. The McLaren car itself failed, not the hybrid system, so yes, the reason Alonso retired was because of McLaren’s own area of responsibility. My recollection is the commentators saying he hit a kerb too hard, so maybe there was also an element of fatigue involved. I wasn’t aware of the other failings at McLaren, but if they are true then really McLaren need to do more work. I recall Jenson Button trying to motivate the team because of basic mistakes. F1 isn’t just about racing on a track, it is also about racing in development and racing in preparation, so McLaren-Honda need more of their off track race prior to the Chinese GP.
        Currently a slightly underpowered car can dominate a stronger car if it is in front of it, as Vettel proved, so qualifying has become essential to getting a points finish for McLaren-Honda. They want a good grid place and to have some good tyres that will last nearly to the end of the race.

    9. Honestly Alonso has himself to blame if he cannot land a competitive seat after 2017. I think all 4 seats at Mercedes and Ferrari this year are unconfirmed for next year. Bottas’ and Vettel’s contracts are running out and need to be renewed. Hamilton hinted as a possible departure from Mercedes. Kimi’s position is meant to just be this year and people have called for his replacement for the last 2 years now.

      Which team would want to take a driver who, no matter how good, act like it’s all his great skills when he wins and blames his own team for not living up to his own potentials when the team struggles. Take 2014 for example, every single weekend he went on about how he were the hero of the day through coded language like “this is a great result for the car that we have, and obviously there are places where we can develop.” And after he left, he publicly trash talked his old team and played down their 2015 victories, saying that Ferrari did not know how to win a championship. Perhaps if he wasn’t so arrogant, Ferrari would consider having him back next year in a possibly title contender.

      1. @ducpham2708 fully agree, he ‘s been toxic to any team he’s been with since his original stint at renault. and maybe even there with the whole trulli thing in 04? but i don’t really remember whether he was part of that. Anyways any team that signs him has only itself to blame. In a funny twist Hamilton sometimes seems to have similiar problems, what with all the not-so-wise innuendos when he was not winning last year

        1. @mrboerns – How was ALO toxic at Renault 08-09? at Ferrari? and at Mclaren now? Because he is critical of car performance? That’s his job mate.

          Do you really think the engineers that build these cars are delicate little snowflakes who crawl up into a ball if a driver is critical of the car? Believe me, they want to know what’s not working, because that helps them make improvements.

          1. @asherway if you don’t want to see it you won’t. But if you want to, look at the way for example Michael Schumacher handled things back in the day and you might spot a difference or two.

          2. It’s one thing to be critical of your car, just this weekend, Lewis constantly gave information back to his garage, saying grip is poor, tyres are gone, etc. But it’s another thing to make your team looks bad on public radio or press conferences. Screaming “GP2 Engines” at the home race of your engine manufacturer, saying “we’re taking all corners flat out because the car is so slow” to reporters publicly in testing, or saying, without intention of construction, that your team is dead last on the grid, are the things that erode the working spirit in the team.

            Alonso can pretend to be “the best driver on the grid” all he wants, but if this year turns out to be a Hamilton vs. Vettel battle for the Championship, with a combined of 7 WDCs, history would not give a nickel about the guy who always finishes out of the points. As of right now, Vettel and Hamilton are battling to be the most memorable driver in the post-Schumacher era, and Alonso is still trying to fool himself.

            There are two ways Alonso can get himself to a championship-winning car:

            1. Build a strong team around him and help his engineers explore the most out of their potentials to build him a good car.
            2. Be professional so that top teams can appreciate his speed without thinking: “Gee, I don’t want to see this guy trash talking us a few years from now when he’s gone.”

            Both approaches require him to show respect to the team, and try to direct his frustrations elsewhere. Look at Vettel last season, we could all see he wasn’t happy with not being able to challenge for wins and podiums. And while we didn’t like the way he complained about everything: blue flags, tyres, Kvyat, Verstappen – he avoided talking bad about Ferrari while he could. The same thing happened in 2014, he was frustrated with losing out to DanRic, but he did not target Red Bull directly, because he understood he needed the team to win.

            1. What a well thought out reply, couldn’t have put it better. I believe he has Horner to thank for still being in F1, as if Horner didn’t run to the press to say Vettel had signed with Ferrari he would have been holding out for nothing hence why he had nowhere else to go except Mclaren.

      2. Alonso fans gonna come after you now :)

        1. Not if they’re in Hondas they won’t

          1. Alex McFarlane
            28th March 2017, 18:16

            That actually made me LOL.

      3. Perhaps if he wasn’t so arrogant, Ferrari would consider having him back next year in a possibly title contender.

        Looking at Vettel’s 2016 season, I’m pretty sure Ferrari have really started missing Alonso… arrogant or not

        1. Why 2016 and not 2015?

          With Vettel people like to look at the odd year in his time at the team be RBR or Ferrari!

        2. @todfod yeah must have been a bummer having noone babbling samurai nonsense in the garage :D

          1. @mrboerns

            Think they have their replacement with cussing and crying ;)

      4. Precisely why he was sacked by Ferrari

    10. I have to say i am a bit shocked. Since 2011 every second discussion was how awful DRS passing and cheese tire passing is and how it kills the sport. Now we had 1 (ONE) race where the new rules in combination with a twisty track made for few overtakes and already people complain about there being no overtakes. Grow up already.

      1. Indeed, very frustrating. Give the new regs a chance.

        I thought the race was fun and tense, with Vettel hanging on to Hamilton in the early portion. Then, Hamilton comes out behind another car, starts moaning about how it’s impossible to pass, and “don’t know how you expect me to get by,” etc etc. Out of the car, he always talks such a big game about how he never gives up, but then he gets stuck in behind another car and promptly gives up, leading a whole mass of fans to apparently also give up and write off the Formula. It’s just the first race, and Australia, besides being the season opener, never provides a sterling battle, at least in my memory. I’m super pumped to see the cars tackle classic circuits like Spa, Silverstone, Montreal, etc. I think Monaco will be spectacular – imagine how narrow it will seem? The margin for error will be greatly diminished.

        To say that Formula 1 is ruined (but wasn’t it ruined last year? and in 2014? and 2009? and 2006? and every other year in history?) after less than 90 minutes of racing is preposterous. A lot of Formula 1 fans are bigger fans of complaining about racing than watching it.

        1. Totally agree. You nailed it. Now we will see who can properly overtake in a race. I’m just happy to see that these cars are harder to handle (more driver mistakes already happening ), and that the race are much more intense as well. The drivers are realizing that they need to get every small details right and to use every opportunity to obtain track position ( good qualy, good start, real tire management, ballsy overtakes), and this is more like real racing to me. Less artificiality, and more sparse but real action. It was much more intense to watch that race from my point of view. They’re on the right track. Just stick with this, avoid knee jerk reactions.

        2. Totally agreed. Australia had the most important thing in a race: a direct fight for the lead, with the bonuses of an inter-team battle and a change in track position. Yes, it lacked an overtake to decide it, but a quasi-street circuit is not the ideal place to have it.

      2. @mrboerns I’d rather a race like what we had in Melbourne with fewer overtakes than a race with 30-50+ DRS passes & cheese tyres that make the cars look slow because drivers can’t push for more than 1 corner without overheating them.

        DRS is an abomination, The cheese tyres were an abomination. Both things were/are ruining the SPORT & F1 is in a better place than it was now that the cheese tyres are no more. Just a shame were stick stuck with DRS for the foreseeable future.

        Overtaking figures aside I think this year’s cars are far more interesting & a far greater spectacle to watch than what we have seen more recently. They look exciting & having decent tyres again is only adding to that, It is also clear that the drivers are relishing these new cars & tyres.

        I’d much rather what we have now than what we had the previous 6 seasons.

    11. Fernando had problems with every team he raced apart Renault.
      I don’t understand why people feel sorry for him, like he deserved much more.
      He is a multi milionare who putted himself on the situation he is in, nothing to feel sorry about.
      The problem is that his fans and himself think the fault is always someone elses.

      Melbourne barely produced spetacular races, i don’t know why so many were upset. It was a good race.

      1. @edmarques Good points all round. Melbourne tends to be more spectacular when there are safety cars or rain.

    12. I read a lot if wishful thinking in assuming Hamilton would leave a team he’s win 31 times in 3 years. Lewis is contracted THROUGH 2018 and said he could easily drive another 6 years. Think about where Mercedes were prior to HAM (an also ran) and think about where McLaren are post HAM. If Merc stay competent and competitive Lewis will be there. He is clearly the quickest driver in F1, just look at his pole record. If he can maintain that advantage, there are plenty more good years to come.

    13. I think McLaren sacking Alonso in the middle of the season is more likely than Alonso leaving by his own will.

      McLaren knows their situation is far from ideal. They’re not racing from race wins and championships, so they don’t need a world-class driver who happens to be a complete PR-nightmare with his one-sided offending outbursts.

      I can see McLaren firing Alonso, and after that Alonso crawls to Renault headquarters and begs for a drive. Palmer will be left unemployed and Alonso continues the season at Renault.

      1. @huhhii

        I think McLaren sacking Alonso in the middle of the season is more likely than Alonso leaving by his own will.

        Mclaren firing Alonso?!? Get out of your bubble… Brown wants Alonso to stay for 5 seasons.

        1. @todfod I think Montezemolo or Domenicali also something along those lines some years ago…

          The truth is, McLaren doesn’t need driver of Alonso’s calibre right now. Vandoorne is the long-term plan. McLaren don’t need a petulant diva neither, so that’s why I’m willing to bet Alonso gets the boot after whining in a few more race weekends.

          1. Firstly I think you are levelling your negative commentary about FA unfairly. Sure he’s had some frustrations at Mac. Name a driver who hasn’t expressed frustrations at times. Hasn’t McHonda done little enough to warrant it?

            I think that if they could just fire FA, or FA could just walk, then that tells me his contract is weaker than we were lead to believe and he would have already walked and taken the other Merc seat. Methinks FA can’t walk without it costing him big bucks, and same for Mac if they were to fire FA…huge payout to do that.

            I predict he’s stuck where he is this year, but will not stay and trust them to get their act together in 2018.

          2. The only thing giving Mclaren Honda the smallest bit of respect and hope is Fernando’s performances. Only a fool would fire him. I think Mclaren should just shut up and listen to all his whining. If there’s anyone in the paddock who’s earned the right to lash out at his team, it’s Fernando.

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