Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Monaco, 2018

Hamilton says Vettel is still his biggest threat for title

2018 Monaco Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel is still his biggest rival for the world championship despite the rising threat from Daniel Ricciardo.

The Red Bull driver won for the second time in four races in Monaco last weekend, moving within 38 points of Hamilton in the title battle.

But Hamilton believes Ferrari remain the biggest threat to Mercedes. “Ferrari I think still are the strongest,” he said.

“Their car was quick [in Monaco], their car was quite working well through the whole season so far.

“They have dropped the ball a few times and we’ve capitalised on that so we’re further ahead than we would be if everyone had done the same job.

“But I still feel Ferrari are still the strongest and Sebastian’s been doing the strongest job.”

However Hamilton said it is “a three-way battle” in the championship now and he expects Red Bull to take another step forward at next week’s Canadian Grand Prix.

“Red Bull have potentially got an upgrade coming at some stage engine-wise at the next race so it will be interesting to see their performance,” he said.

“They will continue to get stronger through the year. Hopefully while the race was not the most exciting hopefully it’s great for the fans to see this battle we’re having.”

Hamilton, Vettel and Ricciardo have each won two of the six races so far. Hamilton says he’s enjoying the level of competition in Formula One at the moment.

“We’re doing everything we can to win the race,” he said. “The Red Bulls win, then Ferrari win, we win, it’s great to have that.

“I personally love it and it’s challenging me more than I can express. It’s the biggest challenge I’ve had with my boys.”

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32 comments on “Hamilton says Vettel is still his biggest threat for title”

  1. I think the title is wrong

      1. This is what is says…….

        “Hamilton says Vettel is still biggest his threat for title”

  2. He’s not wrong, but I do think that things could have been so different for Valtteri Bottas had he avoided that debris in the final laps at Baku. I wouldn’t rule him out just yet, despite the points gap to Hamilton being quite wide now.

    It’s going to be an interesting year for Mercedes. Red Bull will now surely back Ricciardo through the rest of the season and Ferrari have made it clear that Vettel is their main bet. On the other hand, Mercedes have two drivers who at half of the races are very closely matched. Would they now allow Bottas to lead a 1-2 over the finish line, or would they ask him to move over for the Championship?

    Canada should surely be a slam dunk for Mercedes, but the next races up to the summer break are arguably anyone’s game. The Championship could be going to any of the Top 3/4 at this stage.

    1. Not sure what you mean by backing DR. That to me implies Max is not to take points away from DR, but on any given race weekend Max can easily be just as fast if not faster. RBR can not afford to marginalized either driver while they sit and likely will remain third in the WCC. They must both be encouraged to continue maximizing the car and their finishing places, with Max’s main mandate to finish cleanly. At Ferrari, yes it does seem to be SV again, and at Mercedes, if VB doesn’t start dominating LH right away, they’ll have to start leaning toward LH if SV will continue to get the lion’s share at Ferrari. Bottom line is Merc and Ferrari are the only two teams vying for the Championships. They are the ones that will have to consider their driver status at some point, if they haven’t already.

      1. @Robbie – we’re now a good portion of the way into the year and one Red Bull driver has double the points of the other. While I’m sure Red Bull wouldn’t ask Verstappen to give up a win or a podium at this point in the season, it’s viable that he might be asked to move aside when about to lead home a 2-3, or 4-5 for example. If a superior strategy or part is available, it will surely be given to Ricciardo first as well. Should Ricciardo wins the title this year, you can bet it’ll be by a slender margin, so any extra points will be essential.

        1. @ben-n Theoretically yes, but I think this is all way premature. Just because RBR won at a track that they were always touted to likely do well at, does not mean DR is now a WDC contender, just because that 25 points jumped him up a notch. Odds are RBR will continue to be third in the WCC race, so any talk of new parts going to DR, or Max having to swap positions, is pure speculation since it is highly unlikely DR will remain in the WDC fight. Put another way…nobody, starting with the pre-season testing, has pegged RBR as the WCC winning team, nor one of it’s drivers a WDC this year, and the standings are reflecting that, so one half-expected Monaco win does not suddenly change that just because the math looks a little better for DR at this particular snapshot in time. Max and DR will continue to shadow each other while Merc and Ferrari continue to win the bulk of the remaining races.

          1. I think it will be very difficult for RBR to persuade Max to move over and let Daniel pass. First of all, RBR normally let their drivers battle on track till they crash, secondly Max isn’t the kind of driver who will obey that kind of team order if he has any excuse. On top of that RBR has a bad history of big problems if they are accused of favorism towards one of the drivers, so they will probably try to avoid that kind of accusations from their fans. However I would understand if the Team principal of RBR would clear Max away from Daniel via pit-strategy, next time things heat up between the two.

    2. @ben-n – If Bottas hadn’t hit the debris in Baku—and assuming my math is correct—he’d be in basically a dead heat for second with Vettel and about 10pts behind Hamilton. Even in that scenario I would call his season largely done. That is a bit ridiculous, I will admit, as any bobble by rivals would give him the lead.

      However, nothing Bottas has done has indicated to me that he can turn it on when he needs. Every driver and every team has better tracks and worse tracks, better days and worse days. But it really does seem to me that Bottas can only deliver when he has a perfect weekend. He certainly has more than enough opportunity left this season to win the title, but as you note, every race he finishes behind HAM it pushes the team toward having to back the lead driver. If he wants a shot he needs to start beating his rivals consistently; I just don’t see it happening.

    3. I think Niki Lauda gave it away before the race saying all that matters is Lewis beating Vettel didn’t even mention Bottas.

  3. I think that Ferrari have the most consistent car. Mercedes and Red Bull will both be good on some tracks, not so good on others, but Ferrari will be there or thereabouts in every race. However, I still think Mercedes could be the favourites for a lot of the tracks left on the calendar, and maybe even for the title too. The season does start with a few tracks that seem to favour the Ferrari more, which is why people thought they were going to storm it.

    1. Indeed… if I had to place a bet right now, I’d put my money on another Hamilton title, but it really is tricky to call this year. It’s nice to see a little uncertainty and a close championship where the driver can make more of a difference. Mistakes and poor fortune could cost a lot this season, as Verstappen is finding out.

      1. For sure. Last year, late season unreliability cost SV hugely. So far this year it is LH and Merc who are the defending Champions, and they lead now too, so for sure they are the target. With fewer mistakes and less unreliability than last year SV can take the fight to LH, while LH sits acknowledging SV is his biggest threat.

        1. It’s great to have the Red Bull’s closer in the mix as well this year. In 2017, a poor strategy for Ferrari or Mercedes usually resulted in finishing 4th. This year it’s 6th, which is so much more costly for the Championship. Red Bull are in an interesting position as dark horses. Nobody really expects them to finish anywhere but 3rd in the WCC, so they can utilise alternate strategies and cause chaos, as they did in China.

          It’s going to be a very interesting year.

    2. @hugh11 of the tracks left where to you think will suit Mercedes over Ferrari? To be honest, I can’t predict it anymore. I would have said Baku and China would suit Mercedes but look what happened there. I’d also usually predict Mercedes domination in Canada but after Baku I think Ferrari might be the team to beat.

      I’m interested to hear your thoughts as based on the evidence this year I think it’s Ferrari who’ll have the advantage at most tracks.

      1. Seems like mercedes will be strongest at tracks with the new tyres, other than spain france and silverstone, which is also hamilton’s home gp, so not hard to imagine.

        Hamilton should also win in canada, he’s very strong there, like schumacher, however because of this year’s engine ferrari might have a slightly better car for tracks like canada this year.

        Red bull should be favourite at tracks like hungary, singapore and mexico, they can be the dark horses indeed, they won’t fight for title but they can aim for a record number of wins in the hybrid era.

        Mercedes lost 8 races in 2017 which was unheard of in the previous 3 years, 5 to ferrari and 3 to red bull, and they already lost 4 this year, so with a projection we could have another 10 wins this season for ferrari + red bull, if that happens mercedes won’t fly away with the title and ferrari will be contenders till the end.

        However I’m still gonna have to consider mercedes as favourites, the margin they had in spain… no other car had such a margin this year, it was 2016 domination levels.

        1. “However I’m still gonna have to consider mercedes as favourites, the margin they had in spain… no other car had such a margin this year, it was 2016 domination levels.”

          China, Ferrari had a massive advantage. 6ths in qualifying. Front row lock out. Vettel was comfortably controlling the race until a slow ferrari pitstop/Seb pit error allowed Bottas to undercut him….then Seb all over Bottas like a rash afterwards.

          Ferrari have the better all round car this early part of the season

  4. Mercedes was dominant in Australia and Spain. Ferrari never enjoyed such margin over their silver rivals. While Scuderia had an edge over Mercedes in Asian races, they were evenly-matched in the race. Bottas stayed with Vettel in Bahrain and could well have won there, he was close enough to do a successful undercut in China and they weren’t far behind in Baku. Red Bull isn’t far behind and dominated Monaco but is throwing away much more points than Mercedes and Ferrari.

    1. Baku was definitely Ferrari’s strongest showing this year.
      Hamilton made those mistakes trying to keep up with Vettel.

      Bottas had a different strategy but if not for the SC, he would be at least 10 secs behind with few laps to go. Something Vettel could easily manage.

      On China, we can’t really say. They dropped the ball waiting two laps to stop Vettel and lost the lead, but he was mounting a huge pressure on Bottas when the SC came in. Who knows how it would turn out without the SC periods..

    2. So in other words, Ferrari have had the overall edge in 4 of the races –in other words, they’ve had the best car so far this season

    3. Mercedes was dominant in Australia and Spain. Ferrari never enjoyed such margin over their silver rivals.


      I thought Ferrari enjoyed a good advantage over Mercedes in Bahrain and Baku. In Bahrain, it was Mercedes’ strategy that made the race closer than it should have been, but there was no doubting that Ferrari was significantly quicker than them on qualifying and race pace. Similarly, in Baku they had a decent qualifying and race pace advantage. In China, again Ferrari had the edge in qualifying, but it was pretty even on race pace. Monaco, Red Bull were the team to beat with Ferrari close behind.

      Overall, I would say Ferrari has been the better car this year in the opening 6 races.

      1. China, Ferrrai was clearly the superior car. Only Ferrari giving Vettel a slow pitstop & Vettel making a mistake when pitting, allowed Bottas to get close engough to undercut. Aside from this, Vettel was comfortably ahead on pace.

      2. @todfod
        Ferrari was roughly 0.15s ahead of Mercedes in Bahrain qualifying despite their extra PU power. It’s hardly significantly quicker and Bottas stayed close to Vettel until the pit-stops. In Baku, Hamilton was close to Seb until making a mistake at Turn 1. In neither Asian race, Vettel was able to pull away like Hamilton did in Australia or Spain.

        1. @michal2009b

          In Baku, Ferrari had a decent race pace advantage. Hamilton was pushing as hard as he could and finished his tyres off much earlier than Vettel did. Vettel was just controlling the gap and easing through the first stint. He could have pushed much harder and increased the gap, but his plan was to make his first stint significantly longer than Hamilton. He also enjoyed a nice 0.15s gap to Mercedes in qualifying, which was exactly the same as Mercedes’ qualifying advantage in Spain.

          In Bahrain, if both Mercedes and Ferrari had opted for the same strategy, there’s no way Bottas would have gotten that close to Seb. Again, it was Mercedes’ strategy that made it look closer than it was.

          I agree that the Mercs enjoyed a decent advantage on Sunday in Spain, but in Australia, Kimi was keeping it pretty close to Hamilton throughout the race. Lewis put in a stonker of Q3 lap, but that didn’t translate in to the same advantage on race day.

          Overall, I still think Ferrari was the stronger car in 4 out of the 6 race weekends so far, but I feel Mercedes has been the better team, which is why the scoreboard doesn’t really reflect their advantage.

  5. You would have to say he’s right. I believe Vettel and Ferrari are the pair to beat for now. Cant see Red Bull winning or consistently winning races as much as Monaco was pretty dominant

    1. Pair to beat by him, but as far as season goes Lewis and Mercedes are the pair to beat.

  6. Do not cry Lewis! Mr. Charlie will sit in Ferrari car with Seb if you want to win. Even with new software. The best monitoring protocol. And while Ferrari is in the spotlight, all of you in Merz and redbull can enjoy and do whatever you want.

  7. Ferrari is the team to beat, other than Spain they have been quickest. It’s their bad luck and bad strategy that means they aren’t leading the championship right now.

    Canada will be crucial, if Ferrari are up there then it’s going to be a long hard season for Mercedes.

  8. Other than Spain? Must have forgot the Aussie gp.

  9. Mercedes had a clear edge in Melbourne.

    Mercedes probably had a marginal edge in Bahrain. Only reason Mercedes didn’t win because Bottas lacks race craft. Hamilton dropped the ball by qualifying 4th behind his teammate and finishing behind him in the race.

    China, Mercedes had the edge in the race. Bottas was headed for victory before the safety car. Hamilton was nowhere and underperformed given the equipment at his disposal. Vettel robbed of victory through no fault of his own.

    Baku, Ferrari had the edge, but Vettel made a poor mistake. This probably cancels out Hamilton’s two poor drives in Bahrain and China. Hamilton gets very lucky to win when Bottas gets a puncture.

    Spain, Mercedes had a massive edge.

    Red Bull had edge in Monaco.

    1. “China, Mercedes had the edge in the race. Bottas was headed for victory before the safety car. Hamilton was nowhere and underperformed given the equipment at his disposal. Vettel robbed of victory through no fault of his own.”

      You are dreaming. Ferrari front row lock out in China, beats field by a whopping 6ths in qual–even an inform Hamilton wouldn’t have been able bridge that massive gap. Vettel comfortably controls the pace up front-Only Ferrari giving Vettel a slow pitstop & Vettel making a mistake when pitting, and ferrari miscalculating the pitstop delta (like Merc did with Hamilton in Aus) allowed Bottas to get close enough to undercut. Aside from this, Vettel was comfortably ahead on pace. After Bottas undercut Vettel, Vettel’s pace was right on Bottas’s tail. Ferrari clearly the better car in China. Without the Ferrari mistakes allowing Bottas to undercut & the safety car, vettel would have cruised to victory,

      Bahrain, Hamilton had a grid penalty that would have compromised his qual/race-so this race is a little more difficult to read. But Ferrari did lock out the front row and was faster in the first stint. So, overall, they had the better car that weekend.

      Baku-Ferrari fastest

      Monaco-Ferrari again faster than Merc (though RB fastest overall)

      Hence, Ferrari faster than Merc in the majority of races so far

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