Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2018

Ferrari will be “hard to beat” in China – Hamilton

2018 Chinese Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton says Ferrari’s superior straight-line speed will put them at an advantage in this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel won the opening two races of the season and Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid in Bahrain. Although Hamilton won in Shanghai 12 months ago he is wary of the threat from their rivals.

“Ferrari were not far behind in the last year here,” said Hamilton. “I think this weekend they’re going to be hard to beat.

“We’ve seen their straight-line speed in the past races have been faster than ours. We’ve got the longest straight here so I suspect they’re going to be very fast and hard to beat.”

Both teams still have room to improve on their performances so far, Hamilton believes. “I think the full job, full package is getting one-two with both drivers, and neither of us have done that.

“So you can’t say they’ve been perfect and neither have we. It’s going to be very interesting to see how we perform from track to track being that one track might suit them more than us and vice-versa.

“But they’re faster than us on the straights and as quick as us through the corners so they’ve really picked up their engine programme, taken a big step into the season. It’ll be interesting to see how their plan for reliability will be. There’s a long way to go.”

2018 F1 season

Browse all 2018 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

42 comments on “Ferrari will be “hard to beat” in China – Hamilton”

  1. He’s not wrong. Ferrari pulling 4-6kmh on the Mercs on the straights.

    1. He is wrong, Yes they are faster on the straight but not primarily because of the engine, but mainly down to lower drag from their novel sidepod arrangement.

      1. And you know that how?

      2. what??? it is usually rear wing angle that dictates top speed, along with general downforce and engine power. sidepods is a new one to me.

        1. Rear wing angle does not dictate top speed, drag dictates top speed and the sidepods and associated cooling create a large percentage of the overall drag. The Ferrari, with their sidepods further set back from the front wheels, produce much less drag from the sidepods than the Merc do, thus allowing them to have higher top speeds even with a slightly less powerful PU.

          The Ferrari sidepods, are further back from the front wheels(which cause alot of turbulence) and therefore get cleaner air into the sidepods which provide for better cooling and also a smaller opening necessary. Furthermore, Ferrari’s top air inlet bypasses the first set of radiators and augments the cooling by allowing in cooler air than if only front sidepods inlet air.

          Ferrari, may or may not have a downforce advantage, but they definitely have a drag advantage.

          1. Sure, drag is one factor to top speeds, and side pods might be one aspect of the amount of drag a car creates, but the recipe for top speeds contains many more ingredients than just these two things. Horsepower, and exit speeds from corners ahead of straights are a couple of examples of things that can also affect top speeds. Simply the amount of wing a team choses to use as well…sometimes they go for more wing for higher cornering speeds knowing that will hurt them on the straights but sometimes that is the better way to go. Or if they can still corner quite well with less wing, then they’ll do that and benefit from higher straight line speeds. Depends on the track often.

      3. Justin (@boombazookajd)
        12th April 2018, 16:05

        I think its improper for any of us to try to ascertain why Ferrari is faster in a straight line.. it could be a number of factors including running a lower downforce (low drag) set up. This could be, in part, from their higher rake angle which allows the floor to be pulled/pushed downward, lowering the amount of rear wing “up in the air”. It could also mean that due to the high rake angle and downforce generated by the diffuser, Ferrari is able to run less aero parts in critical areas.

        Whatever it is, Ferrari we reliably faster in a straight line in both Australia and Bahrain.

  2. Mercedes really have to step it up soon or the Championship will be over before its started. Ferrari have come out fighting this year and I just can’t see Mercedes pulling that gap back. It’s strange that people still expect Mercedes to dominate events but its Ferrari with the better race car. They also have the trump card of Kimi who they can use as a test driver for Vettel ( as in Bahrain ) or a strategy pawn ( as in Melbourne ) – Fact is Vettel will be hard to beat this year with the full weight of Ferrari behind him.

    1. Mercedes had better race pace in both Australia and Bahrain, and by far the better pace in Australia qualifying. So they still have the better car, they just need to stop making strategic blunders. Well hopefully they won’t and the championship will remain close for some time, but Mercedes are still the overwhelming favourites.

      1. Yeah I think it is going to depend on the track, as it often did last year, but no way am I, nor most are I would think, counting Mercedes out, nor even in ‘trouble’ at this point. They’re still the benchmark and a massive threat at this point. Also @benny Merc has the trump card of VB in the same way Ferrari might have that with Kimi, so…

        Mercedes could just as likely win the next three races, as to any imaginable scenario about to play out in the coming weeks, and then we’d be talking about a potential runaway for LH, and a blundering Ferrari team.

  3. Since 2014 we have been waiting for a proper battle at the front. It’s still a bit early to say we now have one but I hope so!
    I’m also curious about how the Red Bulls will fare this weekend and whether it can trow its cars in this battle.

    1. @spoutnik We HAD a battle at the front last year. Stop making up this ‘Merc has always been untouchable since 14’ narrative.

      1. @mrboerns Well, I agree 2017 was a dream compared to 2014-2016, and even then 2014-2016 were quite fun years for a one team dominance period, less than 2010-2013 though, but still. But we shouldn’t remember 2017 as a year where two teams really had equal opportunity. The Mercedes was still the quicker car by quite some margin.

        1. That is just not true @flatsix. Last year you could not predict which team was gonna be the fastest on which track, there were weekends were merc was faster, but there were also weekends were merc had absolutely no chance to beat ferrari, and if not for an unfortunate string of events over three races starting at singapore, it would have been a fight to the very end.

          1. @mrboerns 100% agreed.

          2. And also some races that were an absolutely straight fight on eye level, i should mention. Competitiveness bewtween two teams DOES NOT get better than that.

          3. @mrboerns Yes, but the misconception here might be that because you believe there’d be a fight till the end that means the cars were each others equal.

            The Mercedes car won a total of 12 out of 20 races, Ferrari on the other hand won a mere 5. Of those 5 you could argue Mercedes should’ve won Brazil and Australia. Meanwhile of those 12 by Mercedes you could argue Ferrari should’ve won Singapore, but that’s really it. The Mercedes started off badly in the first six races and still amassed a total of 7 podiums out of 18 opportunities whereas Ferrari scored 8, of which 6 due to Vettel. That in itself explains the gap Hamilton had to close to Vettel. If Hamilton had proper weekends in Monaco and Sochi he could’ve won both, as Bottas won Sochi, and was only 0.050 off pole in Monaco which is half the win already.

            The idea that the Ferrari was as good as the Mercedes is either a) because you don’t rate Vettel an don’t see he had a very strong string of 6 opening races and Mercedes did not, or b) You’re only looking at Hamilton his results rather than those of the car.

            That being said, it was a good season, but it was always Hamilton’s to lose.

          4. @flatsix You’re entirely right, but I think you forgot reason c) they’re trying to put some polish on Hamilton’s WDCs by making it seem he beat someone with an equal car.

          5. @mrboerns Perhaps you couldn’t, but after Malaysia I wrote down which team would win each of the next races and I got them all right bar Singapore…

          6. @flatsix I lean more toward your stance than that of @mrboerns I think we saw a Mercedes that was a bit of a diva earlier on. Had they sorted that out more quickly, then Mercedes would have started to dominate earlier in the season than the half way mark that they did. So for me it was a combination of a greatly improved Ferrari over 2016, but yet a Ferrari that we would have been expecting way too much for it to suddenly have been a match for Mercedes last year. Ferrari did very well to come out much improved over 2016, and to have some success while Mercedes were sorting their car, but once that happened, LH was gone, and Ferrari had reliability issues at the worse possible time, that being when there were very few races remaining to make up for that. LH won the WDC handily well before the final race, and they won the WCC handily as well.

          7. lie.. it was pretty easy… power circuit for long wheel base…unless they made a mistake it was clearly mercedes and narrow circuit for short wheel base unless ferrari made a mistake or something happened like singapore… it was easy victory for mercedes… and we all know what most of the circuit favor longer wheel base hence why ferrari increased it a bit

        2. 2010-2013 redbull was far less dominant than Mercedes 2014-2016, and with a week engine.

        3. Chips O'Toole
          12th April 2018, 18:04

          In addition, the WDC Champion (in a Mercedes) won 9/20 races and clinched the title with 2 races left in the season, thats pretty dominate. IMO, 2017 was a season similar to 2013 where the first half promised a potential battle but after the summer break its was clear who was going to win.

      2. @mrboerns That’s your opinion. I never felt Mercedes was in danger whatsoever. At most Lewis bagged this championship a bit less easily than previous years, far from a real battle. Last time we got a real battle at the front was back in 2012. But this year could be different.

        1. I totally agree with flat six, but I still think that Mercedes are far ahead this season, these two Ferrari wins were more down to opportunity and good strategic gambles than outright pace. I expect a bit of the same trend from last season, once Mercedes get to know better their car, they will increase the gap. Also, I think Red Bull might steal points from Ferrari as well. This season looks tougher for Ferrari to pull it off than last season in my opinion.

  4. The straight line speed is important in Shanghai but the time is mainly made in the slow corners and Hamilton knows it very well. If Ferrari will be hard to beat as he claims then it’s because of the combination chassis/power but I suspect RBR will have the upper hand in this race pace wise since the layout of the circuit emphasizes their chassis.

    1. Justin (@boombazookajd)
      12th April 2018, 16:10

      RBR have never fared well here in the new era, either engine or aero. They were 45 seconds behind Lewis last year at the end of the race. China is absolutely not a RBR chassis circuit as it has two long straights, and the infamous back-straight. I’m sure they are going to be at the tops of the second sector but they’ll lose several tenths in both the first and third.

      Ferrari and Merc are not slouches in the slow stuff either. RBR only excels at slow speed tracks like Singapore because the circuit never lets the engine genuinely open up.

      1. Last year don’t forget red bull was 1 sec off the pace at the start of the year. There’s no reason to believe that, since this year they’re on pace, they would not be competitive in china, if not for the straight line speed.

  5. Is there any real proof that ferrari are quicker in a straight line, and that it isn’t just a case that they’ve been running with lower downforce?

    1. SparkyAMG (@)
      12th April 2018, 13:34

      @scuderia209 Is there any proof that they’ve been running with lower downforce?

      In Australia they certainly seemed to have a higher AoA setup on their rear wing than Mercedes, and their new mirrors are actually designed to improve downforce and INCREASE drag according to this CDF analysis.

      Granted, I think Mercedes still have an incredibly strong Q3 mode but in race modes I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ferrari power unit genuinely was top of the field now.

      1. How if the burden of proof supposed to fall on @scuderia29 though?

    2. Ferrari are faster in a straight line, but that is because of lower drag. Downforce levels of both teams seemed similar in Bahrain.

  6. I was just wondering, in a circuit like Shanghai where most of the corners are medium to low-speed corner, won’t the higher rake of the Ferrari compared to the Mercedes give it an advantage? If Ferrari are able to maintain their straight-line speed advantage, they could genuinely be the quickest car again. Only problem for them might be the temperatures, which suit Mercedes.

    1. also the ferrari has a longer wheel base for the high speed corner… but they didnt increase it too much… so for slow-medium speed corners theyre still have a short car compared to mercedes.. that might help too

  7. At Shanghai Mercedes will run a low down force and skinny rear wing

  8. Who’s got the best PU? Hard to tell from the basic numbers, because factors like drag, how much downforce the cars run or where top speeds are measured can lead to wrong conclusions.
    I made calculations based on the average max. speeds for each engine manufacturer at the end of each sector for the qualy sessions in Australia and Bahrain and these are the results:

    Honda: S1 –> 276,5 (-4,2 compared to 2017), S2 –> 287,5 (-2,5 to 2017), S3 –> 299,7 (-0,3 to 2017)
    Renault: S1 –> 279,3 (-4,1 compared to 2017), S2 –> 290,4 (-4,4 to 2017), S3 –> 300,7 (-7,6 to 2017)
    Ferrari: S1 –> 284,6 (-0,9 compared to 2017), S2 –> 294,8 (-0,6 to 2017), S3 –> 304,8 (-1,6 to 2017)
    Mercedes: S1 –> 283,2 (-3,6 compared to 2017), S2 –> 294,- (-4,3 to 2017), S3 –> 304,1 (-5,8 to 2017)

    Honda: S1 –> 245,3 (+0,5 compared to 2017), S2 –> 270,5 (+0,6 to 2017), S3 –> 293,- (+1,1 to 2017)
    Renault: S1 –> 246,9 (+0,6 compared to 2017), S2 –> 270,9 (-2,5 to 2017), S3 –> 291,4 (-2,6 to 2017) – 294 without McLaren
    Ferrari: S1 –> 247,3 (-0,1 compared to 2017), S2 –> 272,7 (-3,3 to 2017), S3 –> 297,1 (+3,8 to 2017)
    Mercedes: S1 –> 247,5 (-1,8 compared to 2017), S2 –> 273,2 (-6,1 to 2017), S3 –> 295,4 (+0,2 to 2017)

    1. best engine can also mean best acceleration, because of best low end power and torque. to me Mercedes has the best engine, because there was a video on youtube which shows vettel and hamiltons best q3 lap side by side in Melbourne. Hamilton clearly made up time on the straights, even if top speeds don’t say that, because maybe the Mercedes accelerated quicker to its top speed? that would also be achievable with lower downforce, but that would probably mean a higher top speed too. so I believe Mercedes still has the best engine. Ferrari on the other hand just seem to have a really decently made F1 car that is fast everywhere even with slightly less power.

  9. Lewis, Ferrari drivers and team personnel will be hard to beat, as they are doing a better job than you and your personnel right now, without that clear car performance advantage you have enjoyed so much in the past. So get to it.
    Your car is exceptional, seemingly with something in reserve when ‘computer says yes’

    It’s a big ask though to get Ferrari team to stay solid through the whole season. I don’t think it will last. Mercedes will eventually eek out that car advantage and then we can all talk about Lewis being ‘the greatest of all time again’.
    Vettel winning in a non dominant car must be so annoying for the big hype headline writers. If only it was more clear- cut those journos could stick their necks out calling Vettel ‘Fangio’ again.
    Still, plenty of legends to be made with engine penalties (sort-off) reversing the grids a bit.

    1. we can all talk about Lewis being ‘the greatest of all time again’.

      Your words not really anyone else’s.

      Besides, go back a few years and you’d have probably written

      Sebastian, Ferrari drivers and team personnel will be hard to beat, as they are doing a better job than you and your personnel right now, without that clear car performance advantage you have enjoyed so much in the past. So get to it.
      Your car is exceptional, seemingly with something in reserve. Red Bull will eventually eek out that car advantage and then we can all talk about Lewis being ‘the greatest of all time again’.
      Fernando winning in a non dominant car must be so annoying for the big hype headline writers. If only it was more clear- cut those journos could stick their necks out calling Fernando ‘Fangio’ again.

      1. he’s been the ‘greatest driver of all time’ since Bottas became his team mate right up until the first pit stops at Melbourne. And not my words. Since then we don’t talk about drivers, just that Ferrari is surely the faster car for ‘GOAT’ not to be winning.
        Don’t forget Alonso only beat his team mates at Ferrari ‘because his car was built around him’

  10. Ahaha, this is funny, I just read an article on the other site with vettel saying: mercedes is favourite in china, and now hamilton: ferrari is favourite!

Comments are closed.