Analysis: Is Vettel right about Mercedes’ “game changing” advantage in qualifying?

2017 British Grand Prix

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After posting his worst result of the season so far in the British Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel sounded a warning that Mercedes have found a “game changing” advantage in qualifying over the last four races.

Mercedes have clearly been the dominant force in qualifying so far this year having taken eight out of ten pole positions. But have Ferrari run them close at times. Vettel was just five-hundredths of a second off Lewis Hamilton in Spain and four-hundredths off Valtteri Bottas in Austria.

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Ferrari had their best qualifying performance of the season so far in Monaco, locking out the front row of the grid for the first time in seven years. In the four races since then, however, it’s been advantage Mercedes:

Monaco was a turning point for Mercedes. Hamilton endured a horrible weekend, failing to make the cut for Q3 as the team was stumped by its performance on the ultra-soft tyres. Since then the team’s one-lap pace compared to Ferrari has noticeably improved.

As usual there seems to be multiple factors at work. Mercedes have not just improved their car but also figured out how to set it up better. And then there’s the X-factor: Just how significant was the FIA technical directive at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on burning oil as fuel for Ferrari?

The gains Mercedes have made over the last four races is slightly masked because car performance is very circuit-sensitive. The Red Bull Ring’s short, simple layout lessened the different in outright performance between the teams.

But Silverstone was a worry for Ferrari because they had been very close to Mercedes at Spain, a similar circuit in terms of its mix of medium-to-high speed corners. The W08’s performance advantage wasn’t confined to a particular part of the Northamptonshire track: Hamilton took at least a tenth off the Ferraris in every sector.

Ferrari can still split the Mercedes in qualifying
Last year Ferrari were 1.3% slower than Mercedes at Spain and 1.6% behind in Britain. This year having been just 0.06% off Mercedes in Spain the gap grew to 0.6% in Britain. Ferrari are clearly still performing much better than last year, but they’re not quite as serious a threat to Mercedes in qualifying as they once were.

That’s especially bad news for them ahead of the next race at the Hungaroring. More medium-speed corners await, and ordinarily this is a track where the importance of pole position is high. Last year Ferrari were closer to Mercedes in Hungary than they had been at Silverstone: 1.1% off the pace.

Ferrari’s qualifying performance at Silverstone was also flattered by a sub-par showing from Red Bull. It didn’t help matters that one RB13 failed to make it beyond Q1 due to a power unit problem. Max Verstappen’s best Q3 effort left them further off the pace than they had been anywhere this year apart from Russia. “We need to understand why we struggled,” he admitted afterwards.

There is some consolation for Ferrari in that Mercedes haven’t yet been able to consistently get both cars out-pacingthe field in qualifying. They’ve only qualified first and second before penalties were applied in two out of ten races.

As long as Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen can keep getting in between the Mercedes on the grid they have the chance to wield the SF70H’s stint pace on race day. Though at Silverstone it seems they over-played that hand and found themselves in tyre trouble as a result.

2017 British Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
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    83 comments on “Analysis: Is Vettel right about Mercedes’ “game changing” advantage in qualifying?”

    1. A focussed Lewis is the advantage. I hope Lewis mops the floor with Seb especially after Seb being let off in Baku.

      His tire blowing up was the perfect reset to the season. If we are being honest Lewis should have won Australia and Baku which would have comfortably had Lewis leading points.

      Lewis has ALWAYS been a great qualifier.

      1. Why should he have won Australia? He was slower than Vettel, and at the end of the race, Bottas as well.

        1. Mercedes already admitted they pitted Lewis too early. He should never under any circumstances be pitted from the lead into 5th place traffic.

          1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
            18th July 2017, 13:26

            You make it seem like Vettel was nowhere to be seen in Oz. Merc’s srategy error notwithstanding, Vettel was super quick that day.

          2. @Paul So as long as you are playing let’s pretend, then I’m sure SV should be afforded some preferable hindsight results too. Max and VB should have been in the mix a lot more too.

      2. @Paul— I hope Lewis and Seb suffer a series of demoralizing mechanical failures and Bottas wins the championship.

        1. Maldonado, is that you? come on buzz off to where you came from, u r not wanted in f1

      3. This article and Vettel’s quote is about the technology not about the genius human beings behind the wheel. Even then this quote from Vetel could be viewed as misleading.

        It wasn’t that long ago that there were rumors that Ferrari had an extra oil tank in this year’s cars. The inferance being they may have been burning oil in the engine via a special boost to gain an illegal advantage.

        My question would be are the Mercs faster, or could it be the Ferraris are a tad slower without their own ‘game changer’ ?

        1. It seems that once the investigations in oil burning got more serious, suddenly Ferraris qualifying pace was not as competitive. Kind of hard to say for sure because it could be the gains from Mercedes’ Barcelona update that are also responsible for the pace improvements.

          1. In Austria they were very competitive! In Baku it was a case of tyre temperatures, not engine power.. I find Oil bruning to be a desperate topic.

            1. A rumour like that wouldn’t just manifest itself… nor would the rumours surrounding Ferrari’s use of this. Maybe extra oil tank etc. is a little far… but given Ferrari’s history in the sport.. it’s entirely possible they’re up to something that the FIA is turning a blind eye to.

      4. This article and Vettel’s quote is about the technology not about the genius human beings behind the wheel. Even then this quote from Vetel could be viewed as misleading.

        It wasn’t that long ago that there were rumors that Ferrari had an extra oil tank in this year’s cars. The inferance being they may have been burning oil in the engine via a special boost to gain an illegal advantage.

        My question would be are the Mercs faster, or could it be the Ferraris are a tad slower without their own ‘game changer’ ?

    2. Ferrari have not maximised their car recently. Bit like last year they were not there operationally. This is the low point of their season I think the balance will swing the other way soon. Either way Vettel is beating Hamilton in a slightly inferior car, without being unlucky with safety cars he may well have more wins but up to now everything has evened itself out and the title starts again next weekend.

      1. Outperformed is a strong word. Hamilton has 4 wins vs 3 for Seb and 6 poles vs 1. Hamilton also lost a slam dunk win in Baku so I would say they are on par so far with a slight edge to Hamilton.

      2. Mercedes will stretch their legs now. Ferrari will find it hard to catch them. Ferrari argurably had the better car up until Monaco, but looking at it now, Mercedes are a notch ahead.

    3. Why do we keep assuming ALL of the Meercedes qualifying pace is down to the car?

      Both Ferrais outqualified Bottas in Silverstone. Vettel outqualified Bottas in Canada. and Vettel also outqualified Lewis in Austria. These are 3 out of the 4 races since Monaco. And before Monaco, he outqualified a Mercedes 5 times out of the first 6 races. So, where is all this Mercedes “qualifying pace”? To put it into perspective, Vettel has outqualified a Mecedes car in 7 out of the 10 races this year so far. However, Lewis has also outqualified a Mercedes and both Ferraris 7 out of the 10 races so far.

      Point is, Vettel is either a qualifying genius, outqualifying Mercedes with their so called extra qualifying pace, OR there isnt much between bot cars, and Lewis is a qualifying genius that makes it seem so. However, it cannot be both.

      What say ye?

      1. @kbdavies Unless they become team-mates for a season I guess we’ll never really know who’s the genius. I get the feeling over a 20 race season it would be incredibly close between the two at 10-10, bordering on 11-9 to Lewis. And in terms of race pace I can’t see either overtaking one another on track, given the same strategy, so whoever gets out of turn one ahead I guess!

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          18th July 2017, 14:17

          @ninjenius Lewis is darn, darn fast. Rosberg’s strength was his pace especially on the “smooth” tracks.

          Still Hamilton outqualified him 12-7 in 2015 and at least 12-7 in 2016 (excluding Spa).

          Rosberg outqualified Hamilton in 2014 but Hamilton was having all kinds of issues (full spins, brake failures, fires) and he was much faster in the races.

          On the other hand, Kimi outqualified Vettel 8-2 at the end of 2016.

          Also Ricciardo outqualified Vettel in 2014 although Vettel had reliability issues like Hamilton did in 2015.

        2. I doubt that will ever happen, Toto had enough problems with the friction between Ham and Nico, can you imagine the sparks between Ham and Seb, talk about a powder keg ……..

      2. Lewis a genius? I root for Merc and Hamilton, but I know lewis is far from genius. But Seb is genius, I admit that.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          18th July 2017, 14:28

          The problem with Vettel is that if Vettel is the fastest, then Ricciardo (beat Vettel) is also the fastest, then Kimi (beat Vettel 8-2 at the end of 2016) is the fastest, then Alonso is the fastest (beat Kimi), then Verstappen is the fastest (so far beating Ricciardo in 2017 in quali), then Sainz (matched Verstappen in 2015) is the fastest and so on and so forth.

          Eventually we’ll find that Ericson is on par with Lewis and Vettel and deserves 3-4 WDCs in the Sauber :-)

          Vettel is very fast under certain conditions. In my opinion, Vettel prefers to operate alone without opposition.

          Once someone gets the upper hand though, he has a very hard time fighting them and everything falls apart – he crashes into everyone by accident or on purpose, he pushes, he shouts. I think he’s realizing that Lewis is faster and is having a very hard time accepting that instead of digging in deep and trying to improve.

          1. I largely concur. When Vettel is under extreme pressure he cracks, a lot.

            1. Yeah, like those four seasons between 2010-2013 when he was under constant pressure and never cracked,…

              Let me break it to you Vettel is overall Hamiltons equal. Each have their strenghts over the other but in general you could have 50 seasons between them in the same car and you’d have a different result each season.

              @freelittlebirds Also, you can stop your childish remarks about Vettel ‘shouting’ and ‘pushing’. I don’t think I have to remind you of our data sharing, ‘accusing team of sabotage’ Mercedes friend his antics. So just cut it and talk like an adult.

            2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
              18th July 2017, 19:15

              @xtwl Well, the facts are not in your favor.

              Here are Vettel’s teammate comparisons in 2014 and 2016:
              2014 +0.077s vs Ricciardo
              2016 +0.124s vs Kimi

              I’m not saying Vettel is not fast but I don’t think he’s equal to Lewis or Hulk. He’s probably the 3rd fastest driver in F1 over multiple seasons but the other drivers like Verstappen, Ricciardo are very close to him.


            3. @xtwl
              Vetterl cracked a couple of times in 2010. He came through at the end, but Turkey and Spa wasn’t especially close racing, it was dropping the ball on straights/braking zones.

        2. Yeah, you clearly “root for Merc and Hamilton”. Hamilton has outqualified Vettel and beaten him in wheel to wheel and race pace this season in several races so “far from a genius” is a grossly inaccurate. In fact I remember China 2011 and Austin 2012 where Seb was defeated while in the more dominant car as well. I am not saying Hamilton is better than Vettel; that can only ever be answered if they have the same machinery. But to say Hamilton is not a genius and somehow Vettel is, is absurd.

          1. I don’t see how McLaren’s L-sidepod car was worse than red bull’s speed-wise – 2011 though I don’t recall you to be wrong.

            1. Now that 2012 Mclaren was a ballerina. Speedwise I would say it wasn’t as consistent as the RB at more tracks though IMO.

        3. Eh, I’d rate VET and HAM similarly in most things, genius-ness included

          1. @davidnotcoulthard So do I but oh no that’s not possible at all. One has to be the best. As I’ve written above these two are the talents of our time and if you’d put them next to each other for a long haul of seasons you’d get a different result each time.

          2. +1 Absolutely. I’d put Max (wet weather driving, wheel-to-wheel racing), Daniel (wheel to wheel racing) and Fernando (race start genius) up there with them.

        4. To quote an article from way back “The greatest trick Lewis Hamilton ever pulled was convincing the world that he wasn’t smart”

          1. That’s bullcrap. “The greatest trick Lewis Hamilton ever pulled was convincing the world that he was a genius” would be far more accurate.

            How did he pull that off? 2007, that’s how. And Alonso is an idiot.

          2. Author Will Buxton

        5. It’ll be discussed for many years, but I still rely on the most significant metric: performance against team-mates, and who they are.

          Lewis has always had great team-mates, except for Kovalainen in 2008 and 2009. He ran eight seasons against past or future champions: Alonso, Button and Rosberg, and was only (narrowly) beaten twice: 2011 (Button) and 2016 (Rosberg). This year, Bottas has already shown much more quality than Kovalainen, and might be a champion in the future, in the right car.

          Sebastian, on the other hand, had only one past-his-prime champion as a team-mate (Raikkonen), won his four titles against a “not bad for a number 2” team-mate (Webber) and was soundly beaten by Riccardo in 2014.

          If you measure Lewis and Sebastian indirectly via Alonso and Raikkonen, who were team-mates for quite a long time, Alonso was similar to a rookie Lewis and destroyed Raikkonen much more than Sebastian was able to do it, until now, even if, truth be told, Sebastian has always been better than Kimi.

          So, we’ll never now until and if they ever become team-mates, but we have strong indications to believe that Lewis is better.

          1. But then why was Webber faster than Rosberg when they were teammates. And how did Webber beat Alonso in F3000, a supposed spec series?
            And what about Lewis’ inconsistency? I’d say that’s the biggest reason Rosberg had a chance the last couple of years. Even this year he’s being inconsistent. Fast in Australia, China and Bahrein. Not so fast in Russia. Fast in Spain. Disasterous (for Merc standards) in Monaco qualy. Fast in Canada and Baku. Not so fast in Austria. Fast in Silverstone. I’ve no doubt he’ll be fast at the Hungaroring again (and likely win as Merc is back to their pre rule change advantage) but I’m not too sure he’ll be fast in some of the other upcomming races.

            Also, Button and Rosberg are regarded good/great because they beat Lewis. Who is supposedly great for beating Alonso. Webber has proven to be quite fast as well (see him vs Rosberg or Alonso). But ever since Vettel beat him 5-0 people say he’s mediocre, was passed his prime or make up different other excuses just to diminish Vettel’s accomplishments. Then in 2015 Vettel beat Raikkonen with a similar margin Alonso beat Raikkonen and it’s still “yeah but”.

            Just to be clear. I’m not saying Hamilton is slower but I just wanted to point out some of the hypocricy involved when judging these two.

        6. an evil genius sometimes, but i’ll take it.

    4. Fukobayashi (@)
      18th July 2017, 13:06

      I’ve seen a few commenters up in arms at the fact that Mercedes has found some pace but if you think about it, in a sport where hundreds of people are working on completely different concepts, it’s amazing that the cars are as close as they are at all. If you want a spec series, watch a spec series imho.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        18th July 2017, 13:12

        Yeah I agree – as long as F1 isn’t a spec series, you have to accept that the cars won’t all be equal and that sometimes, the best driver won’t be in the best car.

        I wouldn’t want F1 to become a Spec series because then it would become Indycar and we already have that.

        Having said that, I think F1 should either be a design & build series or a spec series. It shouldn’t be half and half like it is now where two car manufacturers control the competition and only makes deals with people they know they can beat.

        Each part should either be the same or should be designed by the team. You shouldn’t have one team able to buy a race winning engine and another team only able to buy a joke.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          18th July 2017, 13:13

          Formatting went a bit wrong there…. :D

        2. Having said that, I think F1 should either be a design & build series or a spec series. It shouldn’t be half and half like it is now where two car manufacturers control the competition and only makes deals with people they know they can beat.

          This is what we should tell Brawn 100%

        1. Fukobayashi (@)
          18th July 2017, 14:10

          @ninjenius gracias

    5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
      18th July 2017, 13:12

      This year it has been less of Ferrari making a step forward and more Mercedes not really understanding the strength of what they had but now they are and while Ferrari are making progress, Mercedes are gaining more. Though this isn’t a case of Ferrari being unable to develop their car during the season because they were already behind, which is making the gains by Mercedes look ever stronger.

      Personally the fact Vettel has managed to get anywhere near the Mercedes in qualifying trim and beat them on merit in the race shows more of his skill than anything else. But Ferrari haven’t looked on equal or close footing for a few races now and the performance gulf between them is widening. Perhaps it’s too early to say the championship’s toast but it’s certainly not looking good for the 2nd half of the season. In his position I’d be far more pessimistic than Vettel is.

      1. Sundar Srinivas Harish
        18th July 2017, 13:30

        I’m still not seeing the gulf that most people are. I think both cars have their merits and demerits, and it has been misfortune and/or poor driving on race day that has made the difference.

      2. Lets be honest though The Kimi of 2017 aint no Kimi from 2005.

    6. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      18th July 2017, 13:39

      Let’s say that given the Baku circumstances (that none of us armchair experts can change) when people said (me included to be honest) that in that race Vettel should have been disqualified (but I never agreed on applying a post-race ban – a lenient penalty was given, but a penalty nonetheless), Vettel was hit by “karma” in Silverstone.
      And because of that, I think that now that both Hamilton and Vettel are just a point away, every good luck / bad luck / fair / unfair result for both of them has leveled up. Both have shown to be extracting as much as they can from their cars. I have to admit, biting my tongue but, that if the difference is just one point is because so far this year both Sebastian and Lewis deserve to be exactly where they are, a point away. Even if you are a Lewis fan and think that the difference should be the opposite way… ok you can feel that way.
      The only thing that worries me now is that typically Ferrari starts to show a decreasing performance in the second half. I hope they can do better this year, because it would be absolutely good to see them in equal conditions until the end of the year. I really hope Ferrari keeps momentum and improves at the same pace as the Mercedes.
      And if that doesn’t happen, let’s see if at least Bottas can challenge Lewis for the WDC. It would be so boring to have a one-horse championship.

      1. Fukobayashi (@)
        18th July 2017, 15:27

        I think 2016 proved that mechanical karma is not a thing. One Mercedes bore all of the teams unreliability, the other suffered one gearbox penalty and that’s it.

        1. 2016 proved that you can’t afford to have bad weekends in a close title race, even if you are the “better” driver. Lewis lost the championship through his own shortcomings at Baku, Singapore and Japan. He lost the start in Australia. It wasn’t just Malaysia (his only “mechanical” DNF of the season) or China (where his qualifying woes came from a mechanical failure)!

          1. I wonder if the same will be said of Vettel’s start in Canada if he loses the championship closely? Or perhaps Silverstone? His brakes were on fire which may have contributed, but everyone else had managed theirs effectively.

    7. statistically speaking, if you draw an average through the mercedes and red bull lines youll basically also have a flat line. so there isnt a huge advantage difference other than normal random variation.

    8. The article doesn’t really answer the question in the title. But I’d say yes, I agree with Vettel. If you have a car which gives you a high chance of getting pole, then you have a pretty decent advantage before the race even starts. We know that it can be difficult to overtake, or even to follow another car closely, so having the luxury of leading in clear air has to be a fairly game changing advantage. Mercedes has had 8 poles this year and converted 5 of them to wins. And it would have been 6 but for Hamilton’s headrest issue. The Ferraris have to spend almost every weekend playing catch up.

      1. Your post doesn’t answer the question either. As some have explained already, Vettel’s quali stats haven’t been that stellar the last few years.

        In Silverstone Q3, Hamilton pulled quite a gap to Bottas while Vettel was well behind Raikkonen. Is that explained by Mercedes being the faster car?

        It’s also a matter of compromise. You can optimizes the car for quali or for the race. It will never be perfect for both. The drivers will pick a compromise somewhere in between. Since Ferrari often appears to have better long run pace, who’s to say they aren’t simply focusing more attention on the race setup rather than quali setup?

        You could also see that with Rosberg vs Hamilton in 2014. Hamilton had much better race pace while Rosberg more often was a few tenths faster in quali trim. Later seasons they seemed to be more on par where the put their focus between race and quali and the differences were much smaller and Hamilton would on average be faster a bit both in race and quali trim.

        1. Well it’s not my job to answer the question. But I think I did, you just weren’t reading it right.

          Having a car that has such a strong qualifying advantage is a game changer. The Mercedes clearly has the best one lap pace and this puts the Merc drivers in a considerably stronger position on Sunday. Ferrari are always playing catchup, which significantly reduces their odds for success. And now it seems that the Merc has stretched its advantage to the race, too.

          The Mercedes drivers don’t need to compromise, unlike the Ferrari ones who, by all accounts, had to run a much stiffer suspension geometry than they would have liked which contributed to their tyre issues. In Monaco the Ferraris were more nimble and had an advantage, but since then the pendulum has swung the other way. Ferrari have to rely on one or both of the Mercedes drivers to mess it up in order for them to stand a chance

    9. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      18th July 2017, 13:56

      If you look at the dips (where Mercedes was faster), they were on the circuits where Lewis produced incredible laps and/or Vettel struggled.

      I think a few things have benefited Lewis.

      1. He has been closing in on Senna’s and Schumacher’s pole position records and doesn’t want to simply pass them but do so in style and in a special way.
      2. The best laps were at circuits you’d expect Lewis to run well.
      3. Rosberg is no longer there – there’s no doubt that Rosberg’s presence affected the Mercedes pit and Lewis most of all.

      There’s also the Ferrari ‘engine-oil theory’ and the ‘Mercedes Diva’ which make it impossible to tell how they affected qualifying.

      As for Vettel in the last 10 races of 2016, Kimi outqualified him 8 out 10 times. Vettel would have put an end to that after the 1st qualifying, if he could have. Or maybe he was manipulating his Ferrari contract as well and driving slowly (just kidding) :-)

    10. Ferrari’s performance in Baku is a bit of an anomoly and makes the situation look worse for them, but for whatever reason (lack of oil) their one lap pace there was particularly lacking that day and they seem to have recovered some of their relative pace since then. However, going purely by the data represented in that graph I would indeed interpret it as them having lost outright pace compared to both Mercedes and Red Bull, rather than Mercedes making big gains.

      On top of that, the graph only tells part of the story given that it only shows the quickest laps from each team, rather than the outright potential of each car. The larger context is that Mercedes and Red Bull seem to be getting more comfortable with their respective challengers as the season goes on, whilst Ferrari appear to be falling back a bit.

      More problematic for them are the types of tracks coming up in the next phase of the season. Given their current form and performance on similar tracks, one would expect Mercedes to be strong at 6 of the next 7 or 8 races, so Ferrari really need to ‘up the ante’ after the summer break.

    11. I’d more say their race pace!

      They’ve pretty much had the edge of Ferrari qualy wise since the start of the season. To me, they now look like they’ve completely fallen behind Merc in terms of race pace.

      I know we initially heard ‘oh this is more of a Merc track’, but we’ve had a few different styles of tracks now where Merc have firmly been ahead in terms of pace.

      Ferrari are losing this development race, fast.

      1. I agree with you so much. Even in Baku where we expected Merc to really struggle with tire warm up and the twisty middle sector… Lewis was constantly pulling a gap to Seb after every safety car restart. Even when he had to pull in to the pit stop for his headrest he had pulled quite a gap to Seb behind him, I would say about 4s in about as many laps.

        That is when I started worrying that this was a one team battle to Abu Dhabi alà 2014-2016. And even then I’m not really convinced of Bottas’ pace against Hamilton either. It seems close with the two of them but apart from Sochi nowhere else has Bottas constantly had the upper hand on Lewis. He was faster in quali than Lewis in Monaco but he was slightly slower in the race despite finishing ahead. He outqualified Lewis in Bahrain and Austria but again he had to let Lewis through in Bahrain and was definitely slower than an in traffic Lewis in Austria. And when Lewis has been faster he’s been blindingly fast over the whole weekend.

        I’m hoping I’m wrong about all of this and it’s a 3 horse race to the end or at least a two horse race at the very least. Best case scenario for Hungary: Seb and Bottas outbrake Lewis into the long run down to T1 and then we have a race on our hands. We all know how notoriously difficult it is to overtake in Hungary even with that ling straight.

    12. I can see Ferrari beeing close at a short, twisty track like Hungary but on the other hand, Lewis loves this track and has been historically great there and if Merc really have found something it doesn’t bode well looking at recent years.

      Tracks like Spa, Italy, Suzuka, Mexico and Abu Dhabi seem to favor the Merc engine power big time anyway while at Singapore, USA and Brazil Ferrari might have a chance.

      Ferrari has to step up and find something soon or I fear this championship will have an anticlimatic second half of the season.

      1. I’d put USA on that list of tracks where Merc should be favored while Mexico might be a place where Merc and Ferrari are more closely matched. But I do agree I expect Merc to struggle in Singapore mightily. And RBR should be super competitive there.

        As for Hungary, the run down to T1 is the most important factor for that race weekend. The two afforded there means they could arrive into T1 three abreast and the bravest one of them on the day should have a massive leg up on the rest of the field for the rest of race day.

        So to review: Merc should be faster in Spa, Monza, COTA, Sepang, Suzuka and Abu Dhabi.
        Ferrari should be faster in Singapore.
        And they should both be more closely matched at Hungary, Brazil and Mexico.

        That doesn’t bode so well for Ferrari especially if Merc can turn up the wick in quali for a few of those evenly matched races.

        Don’t forget Merc also have the added advantage of not being very close to potential penalties for PU parts and gearboxes. Ferrari have already played their “joker” change for gearbox before Baku so any issue with the gearbox from here onwards means a grid drop. Merc can still play that card for one of their drivers if need be. Also in the PU part, Ferrari have played it pretty close to the limit with their parts than Merc although they are equal on some of the parts used.

    13. Paolo (@paulsteward40)
      18th July 2017, 16:24

      I think we may be overlooking something quite obvious here…… “Just how significant was the FIA technical directive at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on burning oil as fuel for Ferrari?”

      Vettel pointing fingers at ‘supposed’ unfair Mercedes advantage may be masking the real reason behind Ferraris recent decline in quality performance.

      Just saying…….

      1. Paolo (@paulsteward40)
        18th July 2017, 16:26

        *qualifying not quality* LOL

    14. Mercedes has always been better at qualifying since the start of the season. What has been a game changer, though, is Mercedes’ race pace since Canada.

      1. Yes, and that is related to Merc resolving their tyre issues. Ferrari seems to have taken a breath when they saw Merc struggling on the rubber – but now this disadvantage is gone and Ferrari have to find a Seriously big step to get back in the game.

    15. I wonder if this is to do with both Mercedes and Redbull getting on top of the cars they started the season with (plus small updates) rather than Ferrari falling back? If I remember correctly both of them had to make pretty drastic changes to their suspension at the AUS grand prix after the Ferrari protest. Perhaps their early tyre woes (along with balance issues for Merc due to being overweight and not being able to move ballast about) were more to do with this and now they are on top of it?

    16. tgu (@thegrapeunwashed)
      18th July 2017, 17:27

      This year having been just 0.06% off Mercedes in Spain the gap grew to 0.6% in Britain.

      The huge deficit at Silverstone is meaningless because it was a drying track, therefore the driver makes a big difference to the lap time (hence Hamilton and Bottas were about 3/4s apart).

    17. Just hoping it doesn’t turn out to be a merc dominating 2nd half. Will be vey anti-climatic as compared to the first half

    18. Mercedes started the season overweight, that disadvantages both in outright performance due to weight, and also in finding balance as they can’t use ballast.

      I’m guessing the update which included the narrow nose got them on track.

      Ferrari started with what seems to be a really good creative concept, their problem is Mercedes is an organised juggernaut on the development front though. They don’t lose their head and get lost chasing their tail when seeking performance, they just have such a great infrastructure. I worry Ferrari will start to flap chasing performance in the wrong areas as the season goes on.

      1. How much of that is Ferrari getting rid of Allison and Merc hiring him to replace Lowe? Ferrari seem to be in a state of dysfunction right now(when are they ever not) seeing as they just got rid of their engine guy in the heat of a championship battle.

      2. I would think the narrow nose was at least as heavy as before, as it would have to be stronger to meet the crash tests with less volume. Additionally, the car is super long, which doesn’t help with turning the car, something important in racing, especially if you are running overweight. What it may help with is more aero efficiency, especially at higher speeds, as you have more room to manage airflow. Personally I thought that they finally made a serious design direction error by coming with a long, heavy car for aero benefits, but it looks like it is working out generally.

        Also, BTW, did anyone notice that Ferrari seemed to be running a lot of RBR-style rake in Silverstone? Very unusual for them, to my eye. And possibly part of their tire situation—extra weight to the front, and negative effects on the effective camber and caster from an extreme nose-down posture.

    19. Simple answer: Yes!

    20. Ben (@chookie6018)
      18th July 2017, 20:15

      I remeber when Vettel won in Australia, The reaction was that we have a title fight however eventually Mercedes development will come through for Lewis. I feel like this is starting to happen with Mercedes seeming to incrementally further themselves from Ferrari pace wise in the last couple races.

    21. Pole margin since Monaco
      HAM v VET
      Canada: -0.330
      Baku: -1.248
      Austria: N/A
      Silverstone: -0.756

      BOT v VET (will use both his pole)
      Austria: 0.042 (BOT)
      Sochi: 0.095 (VET)
      Bahrain: 0.478 (BOT)

      So as the article pointed or implied, Bottas is the weak link.

      HAM v BOT gaps in qualifying
      Australia: -0.293
      China: -0.187
      Bahrain: + 0.023
      Sochi: +0.478 (BOT)
      Spain: -0.224
      Monaco: N/A
      Canada: -0.718
      Baku: -0.434
      Austria: +0.173 (BOT)
      Silverstone: -0.776

      After the race, I believe it was Ted who said the Ferrari team mentioned that the time Lewis did was not just about the car, half of that was also about the driver.

      1. Oh Ted said it. Well then. Case closed. LOL.

        1. I’ll take his opinion over yours everyday

    22. Mercedes have good race pace at one track and suddenly the season is over.

      I don’t think so.

      I’d agree Mercedes should be better suited to a lot of the upcoming tracks but no way will they have it their own way.

      I see this title fight going down to the final race.

      1. Yeah it’s funny. After the race in Austria there were articles about how Hamilton’s season had unraveled and now we get doomsday stories about how Mercedes must be unbeatable for the rest of the season.

        It’s like reading a Eddie Jordan bit. He used to do that after every race. The driver who won the race was the best “evar” and no doubt would go on to win the championship.

        It’s more like Vettel was a mess this weekend. Poor Q3, poor start and overly aggressive race. Instead, Raikkonen reasonably kept up with Hamilton. So I doubt it’s that gloomy for Ferrari.

        1. “It’s more like Vettel was a mess this weekend”

          So like Hamilton in Russia, Monaco and Austria?

      2. I Agree. After Monaco everyone was talking about just how good the Ferrari is since they have the upper hand on race pace and had destroyed the Mercs in quali that weekend. 4 races after that weekend, people are saying the opposite.

        I think it will be close with Ferrari and Merc all season long if Ferrari don’t drop the ball on development. Merc will always have a slight upper hand in quali, but Ferrari should be as good and even better on some Sundays.

        Considering Vettel is still leading the championship… I think it’s far from over as everyone claims.

    23. The back & forth over who is better that the other is funny

      How about a meaningful question
      You are terminally ill, with 3 months to live. You get to pick either SB or LH to be your best friend to be with you during your final 3 months. Who do you pick & why?

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    25. I hope this will not turn as new 2013 where before the summer brake we had decent competition and then 1 team (driver) destroyed the field pretty bad. Looking at the last few races this is exactly where we are heading at this point.

      1. @vasschu It’s not like 2013 or 1988 where there was going to be a major rule change the following season though

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