Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Monza, 2018

Mercedes closer to Ferrari power levels in race trim – Wolff

2018 Italian Grand Prix

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Toto Wolff believes Mercedes were able to take the fight to Ferrari in the Italian Grand Prix because they had more power available in race trim than in qualifying.

The Mercedes team principal said they “had the quickest car” on Sunday at Monza but the situation was different in qualifying the day before. “In qualifying we were off in every single straight,” he said. “This is not to make excuses but on the straights we lost three tenths yesterday in qualifying. That wasn’t the case [in the race].”

“It looks like the performance that they are able to deploy on one lap is maybe not something they can replicate throughout the race. I don’t want to go further because it could be read in a different way – that I’m trying to find excuses.”

However Wolff acknowledged Ferrari could have been in a stronger position in the race if Sebastian Vettel hadn’t damaged his car in contact with Lewis Hamilton on the first lap: “We [didn’t] see Sebastian perform in a car without any damage.”

Vettel said he was “surprised” by the extent of the damage to his car following his collision with Lewis Hamilton. “The whole side pod was missing, the forward edge of the floor until nearly to the end, the outside structure of the floor was gone,” he explained.

“When I got going again the car was actually quite horrible to drive, I had a lot of snaps and moments that surprised me. Then I got used to it and drove around it.

“But when I got out of the car I was surprised myself. I asked all the race how the pace was compared to others, I was struggling a little bit at the beginning obviously with the traffic, it was quite messy.

“At the end I think our pace was actually quite decent given the damage. obviously without the damage we’d have been faster and without the spin we’d have been further up but both was not the case after four corners.”

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61 comments on “Mercedes closer to Ferrari power levels in race trim – Wolff”

  1. Oh no, but we all knew how much better amd powerful the Ferrari was. What are we going to do with our lives now?

    1. Wait for next race weekend where Ferrari are quicker again. That should bring our lives back to normal ;)

      1. Or RBR being the fastest of grid.

      2. @todfod I believe it if you promise me that

    2. @johnmilk, as has been noted further down this thread, at no point in that article does Wolff actually say “Mercedes had more power in race trim than Ferrari”, or even say anything that is even close to that.

      When you read what Wolff has actually said, all that he notes is that Ferrari were not able to pull away on the straights as much as they were able to in qualifying due to the fact that they presumably cannot use that same engine mode during the race itself. At no point does Wolff say anything about the power output of either the Mercedes and Ferrari power units, nor make any direct comparison between them – the only comparison is between Ferrari’s qualifying and race engine modes.

      It is Keith who has then chosen to assume that must mean that Mercedes’s engine was producing more power in the race, and then written a headline that falsely implies that is what Wolff said.

      As others have noted, some of the headlines that Keith has been producing in recent weeks have had the stench of click-bait about them. It is particularly notable when it either features Hamilton, Vettel or Verstappen (three drivers who elicit particularly strong responses from the fans) or when it involves Ferrari and Mercedes, since those two teams are fighting for the championship.

      Frankly, it feels like rather crass and dishonest journalism and a move which I feel detracts from Keith and, ultimately, from this site, since it feels like a move designed to stir up trouble. The comments sections already have enough abuse and trolling going on in them, to the point where it feels about as pleasant as swimming through raw sewage, without that sort of response then being encouraged by those running the site by selective or misleading reporting that is designed to cause an overly emotional response.

      1. Honestly I read it through but don’t remember a single word, but I’m on a wedding so that probably explains it

        1. @johnmilk

          I can picture you at the altar , best man , checking his phone and making comments on RaceFans whilst Groom is Cussing, “wheres the ring Joao ?”

          1. He will understand

      2. @ anon

        Yes, well said. In the full interview, NO WHERE, does Wolff state Merc now have more power than Ferrari. He is simply saying that it looks like Ferrari are unable show the same level of performance on a Sunday that it has in qualifying-that the performance they are able to deploy on one lap is maybe not something they can replicate throughout the race. There are NO DIRECT COMPARISONS between Merc & Ferrari power capacities.

        I think people need to read the full interview. Keith’s headdines are very misleading

        Woff then says this: “Nevertheless, we DIDN’T have the quickest car but we did. We had a reliable car, we had a car that was good on the tires. There was no blistering on our tires, unlike the Ferrari, and brilliant execution from both drivers and the team.” …………….. With this comment, Wolff is saying that intrinsically, Ferrari was the quickest car, but through better driving, better tyre management & better team strategy, they were able to out-fox Ferrari. Since Wolff’s interview, we have come to learn that Ferrari’s tyre issues were self-inflicted. Kimi pushed too hard on his new tyres when trying to avoid the undercut/overcut from Hamilton. That destroyed his tyres. Vettel, because of his clumbsy move on lap 1, had to push hard on his tyres to fight through the pack. Plus he had a damaged car and that can affect the tyres. Plus Ferrari have said they didn’t bring enough of the relevant tyres to gather the info they need–so they were ill prepared for the race. So the tyre issue is NOT an inherent problem of the SF71H—mistakes by both drivers and the team caused their own issues.

        Also worth noting is that Wolff said this “

        1. (edit-continued above comment)
          Wolff said this;

          “But we haven’t seen Sebastian perform in a car without any damage.”

          Vettel is generally quicker than Raik. Had Vettel been in P1, many think he would have had the pace to pull away, open up a gap & would have been quickest. In other words, we were unable to see the real pace of the Ferrari car because their quicker driver was hampered in a damaged car.

          1. @buffy Vettel generally is, but this time Räikkönen was on pole, so they probably should have been close. However, Räikkönen’s race pace was quite poor. Even before the stops Hamilton could easily follow him. Also, Hamilton’s (fuel-corrected) lap times after his stop were better than Räikkönen’s, but his tires didn’t blister. Räikkönen’s race was the real mystery here.

          2. @buffy, I see that Keith has now slightly tweaked the headline now to “Mercedes closer to Ferrari power levels in race trim” – again, still a bit unsatisfactory as the main thrust of the original interview was about the strategy and how Ferrari had seemed slower than expected in the race.

            @f1infigures, it’s worth noting that Wolff makes the same point himself – that he was also surprised that Ferrari weren’t as quick during the race as they had looked during the practise sessions and in qualifying.

            As for Kimi, to some extent there is an argument that Ferrari made a major mistake with him when they switched to the softs. They told him to push hard on the outlap, but then made him keep on pushing very hard despite the fact that, when Mercedes saw that it wasn’t possible to get an overcut, they told Hamilton to ease off slightly and extend his first stint to give him a fresher set of tyres in the next stint.

            They didn’t need Kimi to push that hard, and Monza has always been a circuit where a one stop strategy, whilst slightly faster, has always been marginal and always needed the driver to manage his tyres, especially the left rear (the one which blistered on both Ferrari’s). Ferrari could, and probably should, have told Kimi to ease off slightly given that they had seen what happened to Vettel when he started pushing that hard on his softs to regain ground, only to then blister his tyres.

            As some noted, Ferrari brought so few sets of the soft tyres that they did almost no laps on it in the practise sessions, whereas Mercedes were able to run a couple of longer race stints during the practise sessions. It’s as if Ferrari went all in on trying to get a better set up for the supersofts, perhaps in the hope of breaking away in the first stint and then hoping to manage the softs – but, being unable to break away during that first stint, they were then left on tyres that they hadn’t really got to grips with over that weekend. You have to say that the problem was at least partially self inflicted by Ferrari going for a tyre choice that was a bit too aggressive, leaving them exposed when it came to the race.

    3. This reminds me of the recent stories on Oil Burning engines. Its apparently easier to crack down on excessive oil consumption over the course of a race, than it is to spot its use in qualifing. Which leaves me to wonder when is the FIA going to name names?

      In theory you wouldn’t gamble with being sanctioned on tracks where its suppose to be difficult to pass, but you might risk using Oil illegally to qualify well on those tracks…

  2. There last years has Really highlighted the different levels of drivers. I see Vettel as second string driver due to too his lack of world class race craft, mentally breaks unlike Hamilton who soaks up the pressure. No special skills in the wet, a requirement in my book to be considered a master of the sport.

    Very mistake prone in clutch moments and never consides and or adapts to learn from the situation.

    1. @Fritz, I think Vettel in his Red Bull stint was free of pressure and everything came easy, with the fastest car on the grid that suited his driving style.

      At Ferrari he’s shown he has 2 tenths against Raikkonen, similar to what Grosjean had at Lotus in the last half of 2013. The difference is now there is pressure and Vettel wants to show how good he is, so he pushes more. I don’t actually think you can push these cars too much because there is no room for error, as he’s found out on numerous occasions.

      The other thing is maybe he’s thought about Hamilton being a little bit risk averse and if he himself can take a few dive bombs, they might pay off handsomely. Of course they havn’t up until now, but what will happen in the last third or the season?

    2. And has managed 4 WDCs.

    3. 2010 wasn’t clutch? 2012 wasn’t clutch? These drivers are human and makes mistakes. Even the athletes considered most clutch in their sport have moments when they fail. Nobody is perfect. Hamilton has failed plenty of the course of his career and this year.
      This year, Vettel’s mistakes had more flare, like crashing out in GER, locking up in Baku (trying to win) or hitting Bottas in France. Hamilton’s mistakes this year have been in the form of off weekends but with some luck, stuff still worked out for him: off the pace in Baku, still have the win fall in his laps, off the pace in China (still finish ahead of Vettel because of Verstappen) and Canada, atrocious start in GBR, the meltdown in GER quali, VET catching and passing him in AUT.
      Attacking a 4xWDC is lack of respect and even if I dislike Hamilton, I would never do that. I respect his abilities, dude is an awesome racer and one of the fastest ever. Remember, Vettel’s teammate never even finished 2nd in those years and HAM had to fight his teammate every year and even lost to him.

      1. I stopped reading after luck. Any F1 fan who uses the word luck to explain anything on the track needs more time in this sport, or needs to check their ego. In a sport where tenths of a second can make or break a Sunday performance. I believe using words like luck discredits the abilities of these drivers to bring the most home. Call it for what it is, skill, consistency and talent.

        1. So Vettel wasn’t lucky this year in Australia with the VSC timing? Or Ricciardo with the SC in China? Or Bottas running over that left over debris in Baku? The actual word everyone used to describe what happened to Bottas then was “unlucly”.
          Luck (good or bad) is part of everything. If you don’t know that or can’t admit that, then don’t just stop reading. Stop watching.

          1. 👏👏👏👏

        2. To win a WDC in F1, you need a good driver, a good car, a good team, and yes, a bit of luck.

          2016 perfectly sums it up– Even with the clutch issues, the extra turbos he had fail, and with Rosberg driving better than ever, Hamilton only lost the championship because his engine went *phut* at Malaysia.

          In 2017 (or 2010), it could be argued the winning driver had not just a bit of luck, but a really good team– Ferrari made a huge miscalculation at Abu Dhabi in 2010 that cost Alonso, and allowed Vettel to win. In 2017, Ferrari arguably had the better car (less temperamental than the Mercedes), but operational and driver mistakes cost them.

      2. What makes you think Hamilton was “off-pace” in Baku? He wasn’t. He outqualified his teammate & was quicker than his teammate for most of the race, and put himself in a position to capitalise & win. In fact, Bottas was unable to keep up with Hamilton in the first stint, both Hamilton & Vettel opening up a massive gap while Bottas struggled with his tyres. And he wasn’t off-pace in Canada either. Remember he had cooling issues in the race that stunted his pace

        In fact, the ONLY race where Hamilton has been “off-pace” was China. But so what? Vettel was “off-pace” in Australia.

        As for “luck”–Vettel has been very lucky to have bullet proof reliability. He hasn’t had any race-compromising reliabilty issues. Contrast Hamilton:

        Australia-software glitch miscalculates (VSC) pitstop delta & costs him the win
        Bahrain- Gearbox issues, 5 place grid penalty
        Austria-fuel pressure DNF
        Canada-cooling issues
        GB-hydraulics failure in Qual

        With the amount of reliability issues Hamilton has suffered, Vettel really should be miles ahead in the championship

        1. Well said. I tire of all this “Hamilton off pace” comments with no modicum of truth in them. It is like they are trying create some kind of equanimity between him and Vettel a la – Vettel drives badly, but Lewis has also been off pace.

          Point is, Lewis has driven miles better than Vettel or any other driver this season. Not a little bit better, but miles better.

    4. Seb has had some fantastic drives this year. In Bahrain he had no tyres for 10 laps and managed to keep Bottas behind. In Canada he won qualifying when Bottas was 2nd and Hamilton 4th which potentially means that Merc could have gotten pole if Ham was on form. He later went on to dominate the race. In Austria he overtook Hamilton and closed the gap. In Britain he got an excellent start, controlled the race and after the SC felt, he did a decent overtake in Brooklands to win the race. In Germany he had a good race but he lost the breaks at the worst possible corner (Kimi, Max and Lewis lost the brakes as well however there weren’t similar consequences). In Hungary he drove a decent race although his Q3 wasn’t very good. In Spa he dominated the race again and in Monza he did a critical mistake but minimised the damage.

      He has done mistakes this season in Baku, France, Austria, Germany and Italy that cost him. However it is pretentious to claim that Hamilton is an F1 god. He has underperformed in China, Canada, Austria. The difference between the two is that when Vet makes mistakes they cost him dearly whilst Lewis tends to underperform and not lose as many points.

      1. In the wet conditions, you also need to take into account that the Ferrari doesn’t behave as well in the wet. Even Bottas was ahead than Vet and Kimi in Hungary and he is not as good of a driver neither in the dry nor in the wet.

        1. Where have you read or been told Ferrari doesn’t do well in the wet?

          1. Both Vettel and Raikkonen said it. Other people said it. And it’s noticeable. Do you need someone to draw you a picture with little arrows explaining everything?
            Think of it like this: Mercs have problems sometimes with the tires, especially softer ones, in the dry. Too much heat into them. But that’s good in the wet. Ferrari doesn’t in the dry so they do in the wet. And the Merc is also more aerodynamically efficient in my opinion.

      2. ” In Canada he won qualifying when Bottas was 2nd and Hamilton 4th which potentially means that Merc could have gotten pole if Ham was on form. ”

        But Vettel had a brand new engine, while the Mercs were using their old spec engine on a power track. As for Hamilton getting pole, Vettel said he made a mistake in qualifying and could have gone even quicker, while Hamilton had the remains of a dead bird in his brake ducts during qualifying..

        And how unearth did Hamilton “underperform” in Austria? He was leading the race until the team messed up his strategy & then he suffered a fuel pressure DNF. In Canada, Hamilton had cooling issues in the race that stunted his pace,. In fact, the ONLY race where Hamilton has been lacklustre without a mechanical issue to blame was China. If you are going to judge a driver’s performance, you should take into account ALL the circumstances that might affect his performance, like reliability issues in the race and dead birds in brake ducts…

        Vettel was “off-pace” in Australia but has since made too many costly errors

    5. Dude calm down his only real “big mistake” was in Germany add 25 points to vettels total and subtract min 7 from Hamilton and this is a completely different story, yes the other few things maybe could’ve been avoided, Baku was a definitely an oppority. But you guys are way to quick to judge believing all these media headlines like zombies….

    6. Watch Vettels maiden GP win weekend then re post… there a few other good examples of Vet doing well in the wet.

      1. Monza 2008 was over 10yrs ago. Since then, Vettel has crashed a lot in the wet e.g. Singapore 2017, Germany 2018. He even crashed out in the Pirelli tyre test 2017

        He’s either crashing, or performs poorly, like in Italy 2017.

        Since his earlier days, Vettel’s wet weather skills have become questionable.

  3. Hamilton fans will not like this admission.

    1. Personally I love it ! It’s great news if Mercedes feel they can compete on power for the remaining races. They might lose pole but if the race pace is good then there’s some hope.

      Hamilton was clearly quicker in the race. That could be down to engine power, tyre wear or Kimis raw pace but it was clear to Hamilton was faster.

  4. It was pretty obvious. I’m guessing Hamilton fans won’t like this admission though.

    1. Why not? Good prospect for the remainder of the season and doesn’t make his race any less impressive. Mercedes still won the race on the opening corners and Ferrari being unable (because of Vettel) to make use of their grid 1-2. Had they led still in the first few laps, Ferrari could have controlled the race fairly easily.

    2. I mean Toto will always find a way to aknowledge Mercedes job as a team and not only Lewis. Being that said I want to see their improvment at Singapore to keep the rear at the right temperature zone.

    3. Re: Alex

      Yes, it was very obvious, as you said. But it won’t be heard by the Ham fans.
      As for the Vettel – Hamilton tango, it was, as the stewards decided, a racing incident. That’s all, just a racing incident.

  5. So quickest car in the race means the most powerful enginw now? I don’t see where Wolff said that. He said quickest car which is a whole different thing. Kimi was struggling on the softs and Vettel had damaged body work so there is your explanation of why they were slow in the race.

    1. Toto as usual trying to get his moment of glory.

    2. Kimi had no problems in the 1st stint, on SuperSofts! Then, his Softs were OK until he caught BOT. VET probably would have won if he would have been in RAI’s place, but Mercedes seemed somehow faster in race trim. It’s BOT who’s underperforming, not HAM “overperforming”.

      1. Kimi was overdriving the car in the corners trying to keep Lewis those few tenths back to neutralize the effect of the slipstreams on the straights. Kimi ate through both the supersofts and the sorts at an above average rate. Both Kimi stints were poor on tires. Lewis didn’t over drive the car, but he put immense pressure on Kimi the entire race to overdrive his.

        Vet would also have lost if he was caught between the two Mercedes as the same thing would have occurred.

    3. Maybe there was body damage on Hamilton’s Mercedes, and if so presumably that would have impaired its performance.

    4. @david-beau You’re right to point this out. On reflection the original headline on this was not quite right so I’ve revised it to reflect the article better.

  6. Wow, cannot believe I was right… AGAIN! Wonder what happened, somebody suddenly stole some horses from Ferrari’s engine or what?!?!

    It was obvious given that HAM smashed the fastest lap as soon as RAI pitted, then in just 2 laps after he passed RAI he created an advantage of 3sec, so all those guys who claimed Ferrari had the better car… maybe they should go follow another sport.

    1. @mg1982

      It was obvious given that HAM smashed the fastest lap as soon as RAI pitted, then in just 2 laps after he passed RAI he created an advantage of 3sec

      Looked like more of a tyre management advantage than a power advantage to me.

      guys who claimed Ferrari had the better car… maybe they should go follow another sport.

      You’re right… Ferrari isn’t as good as Mercedes. In the wet usually the car spears itself towards the barriers or just fluffs it in Q3. It’s also not very stable.. When it crashes in to the side of cars.. It spins around. In Baku.. It wasn’t particularly good on the brakes either m. Come to think of it.. The reliability of the car is atrocious.. Especially on the #1 driver’s car. I can’t remember the last time a Ferrari took pole position.. And I can’t remember a time it’s ever flown by a Mercedes on the straights like it doesn’t exist.

      How can anyone expect Vettel to win a championship in such poor machinery?

      1. Brilliant. +1000

    2. Ferrari now typically have the quickest car in qualifying trim, in the dry. In the wet, that advantage is cancelled out, as we’ve seen in recent races.

      In the race, it looks fairly even and depends on the nature of the track. Ferrari were slightly faster in Spa, whereas Mercedes had the edge in Monza.

    3. Both would have been pushing harder at that time (with engine modes to match) – comparing with preceding laps isn’t meaningful. Neither the engines nor (as soon became apparent) the tyres can be pushed that much over the whole race.

      Given the relative race and quallie performance, one might assume that Ferrari’s peak engine mode is now the one to have. Even that is a risky inference, too many variables affect race pace.

  7. Ferrari now typically have the quickest car in qualifying trim, in the dry. In the wet, that advantage is cancelled out, as we’ve seen in recent races.

    In the race, it looks fairly even and depends on the nature of the track. Ferrari were slightly faster in Spa, whereas Mercedes had the edge in Monza.

    1. The feature which distinquishes Spa over most other tracks is its elevation changes. You could make a case for Ferrari’s engine & gearbox being more powerful under those extreme conditions.

      I also wonder if Ferrari pays a price in terms of Tire wear caused as a result of their better traction out of corners? Think of the forces placed on the rubber as the car slows into corner then explodes out of the corner. The better their acceleration, the more force being imparted into the rubber, the greater the wear. Swings and round-abouts.

      I wonder with the current tire compounds if there’s such a thing as the ideal acceleration delta?

  8. I think Ferrari had the faster car in ultimate pace, but they used up their tyres hence their pace suffered for it.
    I’d suggest Wolf go do some work on their engines before they get carried away with that lucky win.

    1. Wolff adds precisely the same proviso, they don’t know Ferrari’s ultimate pace at Monza because the Ferrari driver usually fastest in races, Vettel, had a damaged car. Seems to me Ferrari and Mercedes were near enough equal and the win came down to Vettel’s opening error and subsequent race strategy. Raikkonen pushing his new tyres immediately after his pit stop wasn’t a good move in retrospect.

  9. Vettel went for the corner along with hamilton. There were mistakes yes but thats exactly what we want to see drivers making the effort. If it works out hoo raah! If it doesnt boo hoo!

  10. He only has him self to blame. A race does not end on 1st lap.

    1. Its might if you find you are suddenly at the back of the pack, on a track which isn’t that easy to over take. Vettel was fortunate to pit under a yellow flag. Think how much worst it could have been. At this level when there is’t much to choose between the cars, its all about the driver. Case in point – Hamilton’s drive in the wet.

  11. Kimi looked to have plenty of power when he repassed Hamilton after the SC period.

    Vettel would have won the race in Kimi’s position I expect, but it would have been close.

    1. @davidjwest He was close enough exiting the first chicane so that he had a very good tow from Hamilton into the 2nd chicane, thus enabling the repass. Less drag from a tow is not the same as having more power, even though the net effect may seem like it.

  12. Vettel’s brilliant move on Hamilton at Spa using slip stream on lap 1 was a nice relief from all these excuses of ‘but he has the faster car…over a race…better on tires etc ‘

    1. That move was crazy! Was wondering how he did this? Diffrent ERS usage maybe? Or was hamilton in the wrong gear?

  13. Euhm… Since when has Ferrari had the upperhand? Both Mercedes and Ferrari are equal in powers now… Just saying. I would say it’s the other way around <_<… Ferrari has finally managed to keep up with Mercedes and sometimes surpass Mercedes.

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