Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Vettel hopes Ferrari cut gap to “favourites” Mercedes again

2018 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel believes Mercedes will be the team to beat once again in F1 this year.

Ferrari made a significant step forward during the off-season 12 months ago and won two of the three opening races. However Vettel is not necessarily expecting them to have overhauled their rivals this year.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
2018 testing day three in pictures
“I think Mercedes are the favourites,” he said during testing today at the Circuit de Catalunya, “but if we can be close, very close, closer than last year, that would be great.”

“Then we will see from there, it’s a long year.”

Vettel and Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton are both striving to win their fifth world championships this year, though Vettel’s last title came five years ago.

“It’s always too long if it’s more than a year ago,” he said. “I want to make sure we bring it back, that’s our big ambition, our target, to bring the championships back to Maranello.”

Poor conditions at the track have prevented the teams conducting much useful running in the first week, said Vettel.

“So far thing’s have been looking OK but there’s been very limited running for everyone so it’s very difficult not just for yourself to judge but also judge compared to the others. To be honest though it’s not that important in the first week, you just want to make sure the car is running. But that’s been tough as well because there hasn’t been much running.”

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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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  • 24 comments on “Vettel hopes Ferrari cut gap to “favourites” Mercedes again”

    1. I worry that Ferrari have thrown away their big chance. Red Bull are sure to be closer and have two very strong drivers and it felt like Mercedes were stretching the gap even at the end of last season. Throw Renault and McLaren in and it could be a lot tighter at the front, especially if Raikkonen’s form is as poor as last year; we could see the Ferrari’s often split by 4 or 5 cars.

      That said, they were a major surprise last year (to me at least), so perhaps they can surprise me again!

      1. I can’t see it that way, as in, them having thrown away a chance. They made a big leap in performance last year over 2016, as you say a ‘major surprise’ and it would have been quite an historic feat if they had suddenly become Merc beaters last year. They gave it a great go but overall the Mercs won both Championships by a big margin.

        So of course we go into this season with Merc as still the odds on favourites, as the defending Champions. But I find it hard to imagine, with the rules stability, that Ferrari and RBR won’t be stronger challengers to Merc, that said with some leeway that Merc is just mighty in this current format obviously.

        I guess the main question is…has Merc still been able to find as many gains yet again as Ferrari and RBR, who had more room for improvement will have?

        1. Very good point; I think the Constructor’s title was some way off for them, but the Drivers’ was in sight if a few major events went a different way (no point getting into that now!). Agreed that it was a good go, but I do worry that it’ll be tricky to be as close as they were last year, whilst also being relatively comfortable and unchallenged for 2nd place (Red Bull were closing at the end of last year… see Verstappen’s wins).

          I just hope that we have a close challenge at the front… surely, the longer we stay with the same formula, it’s inevitable that the gaps will close up.

      2. Of course Ferrari missed their chance, this season is a tougher 2016 all over again. They’ve taken the wrong direction with this car and you can see the car is under developed. Racefans mocked me the other day but Gary Anderson thinks the same, though the car reportedely looks okay in action. Rb made the wisest merger of what they know works and what works on the Mercedes, longer wheelbase lower car profile.

      3. Can’t say I’m worried because I’d rather see Red Bull challenge for the title with Mercedes. A scrap between Ricciardo, Verstappen and Hamilton, perhaps with an improved Bottas, sounds much more enticing than a Hamilton-Vettel rerun. But Ferrari clearly did have a real chance of the driver’s championship last year and let it slip. They had made a big advance with their car for the start of 2017 and Mercedes had built a temperamental one, which they only sorted, more or less, when the championship had virtually already been won. The natural tendency will be for Ferrari’s competitors to implement the good bits of their progress, while Mercedes go some or all the way to resolving their issues.

        1. Overall I don’t think ferrari lost a championship they should’ve won last year, despite them leading for the early part of the season (and for most races I guess), cause I find hamilton and vettel pretty much equal drivers, both had their mistakes\bad weekends, but mercedes was a lot faster than ferrari in a few races and overall had more races where it had the slight upper hand, plus it had better reliability; I think ferrari did what they could to get as close, but it’d have been mercedes losing 2017, not ferrari who lost it in this case, it was the 2nd car.

    2. Multiple Vettel mistakes and a couple of engine failures made the championship seem a walk in the park for Mercedes when it simply wasnt.
      If anything there is more chance of this year being a walk in the park, unless your naive and think Mercedes can’t improve as much on the chassis as the other 2. Remember it’s only the 2nd year of the regulations.

      1. Yeah true about year 2 of the chassis’ but not year 2 of the pu’s, so if Ferrari and Renault have gotten closer with their pu’s, the further we get away from the “locked in advantage token years”, and they have done an equal job improving their chassis’, then I think there is ample reason to think the top 3 will be closer to each other.

    3. Dear Vettel,
      Please “cut the gap” only on the timing screens. Not by banging wheels with your teammate or competitors.

      Sincerely,
      One of your fans.

        1. Hmm well if we want/hope/expect the top 3 teams to be closer than last year, expect some wheel banging. Except for Baku, SV didn’t have a monopoly on that.

          1. Yeah, but Baku was so much more “out of the ordinary”

            1. Oh for sure and he acknowledged that and likely won’t do it again. Not like he had a history of that either.

            2. he has a good history being out of order when things dont go his way… it s well documented…
              whether he matured enough or not, is another question we will find the answer of come the end of the season…

            3. Alonso and Hamilton too have a history of losing their temper when things are going against them. It’s easy to remember in Alonso’s case, as he throws tantrums every season for one reason or another. Lewis is a different case, as he’s had it all his own way in the most dominant cars we’ve ever seen for years now, so he’s got bugger all reason to lose his temper, although we did see it a fair bit with his run-ins with Rosberg (who himself threw worse tantrums than Lewis).

              We’ve seen Verstappen carry on over nothing over the radio, and we’ve also seen him driving aggressively against others he feels have impeded him. We’ve seen Kimi flat out rage a number of times, and we’ve even seen Dan, who is the calmest and coolest character in F1, lose his temper and take pot shots over the radio (remember his colourful comments about Max being a sore loser last year?).

              My point? Sure, Vettel has a serious temper problem. It seems he is usually well behaved, and off track has a great personality and seems a very chilled out bloke. But in the heat of battle he can’t seem to control himself at times, and this annoys a lot of people (including me as a Ferrari fan, it’s not nice watching Ferrari’s top driver throwing away results because of temper tantrums). However, this isn’t something exclusive to Vettel, as much as his detractors would like us all to think. I’m struggling to think of a top driver who isn’t a prima donna. Even Daniel Ricciardo is a spoilt rich kid who clearly doesn’t like losing, and he’s the least bratty of all the top drivers. (I also say this as someone whose favourite driver is Dan, and who thinks Dan is quite possibly the most well rounded driver of the current field).

    4. I think the whole 3 PU for the season change is going to make the biggest impact on how hard you can run the engine. But i still think it’s more of an advantage for Mercedes works engine over everyone else. I didn’t hear of anyone else running lower engine modes last season, only from Hamilton, but then again most of the time he was out in front and could afford to. Would be interesting to know if Vettel did the same thing when he was out in front?

      Just hoping for a competitive fight at the front, actually want Danny Ric to put his money where his mouth is and prove he can do what’s required rather than scoop up on others misfortune.

      1. Pretty much who ever is in the lead, provided they have a reasonably comfortable lead, will have everything turned down to reduce engine component wear. IIRC Vettel spoke a few times last year about turning things down and just controlling the pace out front, and as you said, the Mercs were doing the same things in races they were comfortably leading. It’s all about minimising wear as much as possible. Even if you’re coming 5th, if the relative pace of those ahead shows the team you’re unlikely to catch 4th place anyway, then you’ll be instructed to turn everything down, and cruise home. It’s not just the leaders who manage component wear.

    5. I want to see a race, not a series of gaps.

      1. you cant race to overtake when there is not any series of gaps :) do you want cars to fly?

    6. Neil (@neilosjames)
      1st March 2018, 16:22

      Remove driver error (Singapore), driver stupidity (Baku) and a silly spark plug failure (Japan), and there wouldn’t really have been much of a gap to cut…

      I don’t buy into Mercedes starting the season as sole favourites. For me, them and Ferrari start the year equally likely to have the best car, with Red Bull a little further back.

      1. Remove driver error (Singapore), driver stupidity (Baku) and a silly spark plug failure (Japan), and there wouldn’t really have been much of a gap to cut…

        Hamilton’s season didn’t go perfectly either though

      2. Yes, you can’t only remove what goes wrong for vettel, also consider hamilton as winner in brazil, discounting his qualifying error, consider him winner of baku (headrest problem), consider him much further in monaco (bad qualifying lap) and we likely still have the same situation, hamilton much in front of vettel.

        Basically the thing is vettel would’ve needed too much stuff to go right than it did to win the title, hinting mercedes was overall superior, both in reliability and performance, especially for someone who considers hamilton and vettel as equal drivers, like I do.

        1. Neil (@neilosjames)
          2nd March 2018, 1:14

          I’m not discounting Hamilton’s problems… merely stating the fact that Vettel lost a lot more points through reliability, significant errors and driving into people than Hamilton did, and that these made the gap look bigger than it really was.

    7. I think it is hard NOT to say Mercedes start as the favorite. That said, Ferrari and Red Bull should be able to challenge Mercedes. They will have to, as in the past, capatilize on any Merc mistakes. For the Constructors Championship, much of that will depend on how much Bottas improves this year. It is a 2 car championship. For the Drivers Championship, with Hamilton as “favorite”, we are probably all going to be screaming at what fate and luck does to us this year!

    Comments are closed.