Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2018

Vettel’s errors thwart Ferrari title hopes

2018 F1 season review

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It said a lot about Ferrari’s 2018 season that their constructors’ championship hopes lasted longer than Sebastian Vettel’s bid to win the drivers’ title did. In short, the car was competitive – often more than a match for the Mercedes W09 – but Vettel didn’t make the best of what he had.

Their season began well. In Melbourne a perfectly timed Virtual Safety Car period handed victory to Vettel on a weekend when Kimi Raikkonen and shaded him. Nonetheless it kickstarted Vettel’s championship lead and he followed it up with a superb victory in Bahrain, resisting pressure from Valtteri Bottas on degrading tyres.

Though Mercedes became more of a threat as they got to grips with the W09, Ferrari kept the wins coming. High-speed venues like the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve were happy hunting grounds, though Vettel also usefully out-scored Hamilton in Monaco.

Power unit gains seemed to be the key to Ferrari’s reinvigorated performance; customer teams Haas and Sauber also made considerable progress. The exact operation of Ferrari’s unique twin-battery set-up was the subject of much conjecture, and eventually led the FIA to add a second monitoring sensor to the power unit at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Later in the year, when the team’s performance slumped, some reports suggested another new sensor had been added. This was not the case, though the team principal Maurizio Arrivabene was unhappy any details of the FIA’s monitoring had become public knowledge to begin with. “It’s strange that everybody knows about the second sensor,” he said of the Monaco change.

Ferrari team stats 2018

Best race result (number)1 (6)
Best grid position (number) 1 (6)
Non-classifications (technical/other) 5 (4/1)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,364 (93.36%)
Laps led (% of total) 437 (34.52%)
Championship position (2017)2 (2)
Championship points (2017)571 (522)
Pit stop performance ranking3

“It doesn’t change in any case the performance of our car,” he stressed. Indeed, in transpired their loss of performance was due to the team going in the wrong direction with its car development. The car became more competitive after they ‘downgraded’ it to an earlier specification.

“If we have to go back to a car that’s been competitive three or four months ago then surely it can’t be good news,” rued Vettel. But the fact of the matter was he’d squandered so many points by this stage in the season his championship hopes were already over.

Vettel’s litany of errors added up to one of the most baffling reverses of fortunes for a championship contender in recent years. His crash while leading at home was the cruellest, but one of half-a-dozen such mistakes. He collided with Bottas (France), Hamilton (Italy), Verstappen (Japan) and Ricciardo (USA). He also picked up needless grid penalties in Austria and Austin. The stack of points this cost him paled in comparison to a few races where the SF71H operated beneath its potential.

Even after Ferrari corrected their development error, Vettel didn’t make it back onto the top step of the podium. Raikkonen ended a five-year win-less streak in Austin, though he’d already learned Ferrari was replacing him with Charles Leclerc for next season. Mercedes won the final two races, and took their fifth consecutive constructors’ championship, leaving them one short of Ferrari’s record.

For all this, the undoubted low point of Ferrari’s season was the untimely death of president and CEO Sergio Marchionne. Former Ferrari chief Ross Brawn is among those best-placed to understand its far-reaching ramifications. “There is no doubt the shock of the sudden death of its leader, Sergio Marchionne, who had been such a strong reference in the team, will have a major impact,” he said, “and that is totally understandable.”

Marchionne’s final effect on the team will be the arrival of Leclerc, whose cause he cushioned. This bold gamble on youth is entirely uncharacteristic of the team’s recent history. While Leclerc is taking Raikkonen’s place, some well-placed observers believe he could disrupt Vettel the way Daniel Ricciardo did in 2014. Vettel himself could hardly deny he left plenty of room for improvement in 2018.

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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...
Josh Holland
USA-based Josh joined the RaceFans team in 2018. Josh helps produce our Formula 1 race weekend coverage, assists with our social media activities and...

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62 comments on “Vettel’s errors thwart Ferrari title hopes”

  1. Can’t argue there! I remember him colliding a decent amount, nice to see the stats on that.

    Thanks for keeping some content coming guys.

  2. Vettel recently said that having a quicker car is more important than fixing his mistakes.

    That’s a rather strange statement to make and if anything gives an insight into why he lost the championship 2 years in a row. Is this him subconsciously admitting that hes incapable of winning a title against Lewis [in equally competitive and reliable machinery], so therefore she requires a car that is the class of the field?

    1. Vettel has thrown this team under bus more times compared to Alonso ever did. This statement of asking for faster car throws hard working engineers even more under stress and is a sign of shrugging off responsibility. If anything this is a driver that needs a boot out of door for that behaviour..

      1. Vettel has thrown this team under bus more times compared to Alonso ever did.

        i’m all for criticising Vettel but this is a yoke

        1. A bit egg-stream certainly

      2. Yeah. Right. Good joke!

    2. Is it a coincidence that when his errors started the development of the car went in the wrong direction?
      Remarkable the relative small hits on the front resulted in costly spins several times in a row.

      I guess he made some obvious errors but do not forget the reaction of the car in these scenarios

      1. Strange, didn’t see Kimi’ car doing the same whenever he had a collision.

      2. “”Is it a coincidence that when his errors started the development of the car went in the wrong direction?

        The car development went down the wrong path for 3 races starting from Singapore. Vettel’s errors started way before this.

        1. This. As far as I’m concerned, it’s pretty much an established pattern: Vettel is prone to making mistakes when he’s under pressure (he’s also well known for losing his cool in spectacular fashion when things don’t go his way or if he feels slighted). It was true when he was at Red Bull (anybody remember when Whitmarsh rightfully dubbed him the “crash kid”?) but he was hardly ever under pressure there: Newey designed brilliant cars & he had Marko & Horner permanently in his corner. He could do no wrong as far as the RBR brass were concerned. Tougher championship fights the last two years @ Ferrari shows he’s still error prone when under pressure… Webber alluded to it in his book as well & I’m entitled to believe him based on my own observations over the last decade. Seb’s comments on having a quicker car being more important than him fixing his mistakes show he’s still averse to admitting fault as well.

        2. I do not blame the car for all his errors, but it is part of the problem.
          Managing your drivers is also a team responsibility.

    3. @KGN11 ”she requires a car that is the class of the field?” – LOL.

      1. Oh snap! Didn’t even realise that.

        Before anyone attacks me, it was a typo, I promise ;-)

        1. @kgn11 nah, it’s okay, everyone makes a mistake every now and then. That typo gave me a good laugh though XD

        2. @KGN11 @dinaveer Indeed, and BTW, I’ve once made a similar error myself albeit the other way round (referring to a female person as ‘he’ by mistake), and I felt a bit embarrassed for a few seconds immediately after I realized my error, LOL.

    4. That is indeed strange. From a guy who managed to win 4 titles in a row (and remember that time when it was widely believed that it is impossible to crack him, until he spun on the last lap in canada and let button through and everyone went, woah, he did a mistake!), to a guy who lost his cool in 2017 in Azerbaijan and spent the rest of the season in the shadow of what he did constantly repenting for that one moment, and a string of mistakes in 2018, maybe, the pressure of performing in a Ferrari got to him?

      1. @hatebreeder – agreed, something did change over the years, although I’d be hard pursed to identify what. His wheel-banging actions in Baku and his foul-mouthed tirade at Mexico don’t jibe with the same driver who calmly won a WDC in Brazil 2012.

        1. He became a father a few years back and he hated the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli.

    5. I think his statement is more along the lines that it is easier to win with a faster car as you don’t have to push yourself nor your machinery to the limit (especially if your teammate is playing a supporting role), leading to fewer mistakes.

      1. @kaiie, the way that it is being described in the headlines is “Vettel feels a quicker car is more crucial than limiting mistakes”, whilst the statements that are being ascribed to him are as follows:

        “I think we need a stronger package,” Vettel said. “We certainly had our moments this year when we had strong races but we also had races which weren’t very strong, we weren’t quick enough, so I think overall it’s the speed that decides and I think more often than not I think we’re lacking a little bit of speed. I think we’re working very hard and the motivation is there to do that final step that is still outstanding.”
        https://racer.com/2018/12/27/vettel-feels-a-quicker-car-is-more-crucial-than-limiting-mistakes/

        What is not entirely clear is the question which was being asked to produce that response, as that is not included in the interview – the context in which he made that comment is just as important, but currently missing from the above discussion.

      2. @kaiie

        If that’s what you believe he meant, only makes the statement worse for him.

    6. Or Seb finally admitting (and conforming to his critics) that his ability to mount a successful title campaign is heavily dependent on whether he has a significantly faster car than his rivals or not (like he did during 2010-13); and that a competitive car is simply not enough.

      I’ve come to like Seb since he joined Ferrari in 2015, and while with the Scuderia he has proven that he can win despite not having the best car, what he hasn’t done is show that he can do it/be competitive consistently and mount a sustained championship bid.

      It’s pretty telling that Ferrari insiders feel that had Fernando Alonso been driving their car in 2018, he’d have been more competitive and probably would’ve won the title. Same goes for those in Red Bull who say that if Fred had joined them in 2008, then he’d have been champion in 2010-2013 and even in 2009.

      1. Don’t think that’s such a shock that alonso would’ve won 2010-2013 even just if there had been a 3rd red bull car, as a superior driver compared to vettel, not necessarily speed wise but certainly in consistency, ofc he’d have won those and even 2018, he would’ve probably been close to winning 2017 too.

      2. It’s pretty telling that Ferrari insiders feel that had Fernando Alonso been driving their car in 2018, he’d have been more competitive and probably would’ve won the title

        Congratulations @todfod for being promoted to Ferrari Insider : -)
        but seriously, is there a source on this @rafael-o?

        1. Ferrari: https://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/46238233
          Red Bull: https://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/45189980

          Granted, Andrew Benson is a known Fernando fan; still can’t deny his and BBC’s knowledge of F1.

        2. @mrboerns

          Lmao.

          Thanks man.. But I didn’t get the job. I think the ‘Ferrari insider’ was just a code name for common sense anyways.

      3. @rafael-o

        Ah the wisdom of alleged ‘insiders’

  3. The title is so spot on, so nothing to really add to that anymore.

  4. Extra 100hp more than the field is required to beat Hamilton’s talent.

    1. Hamilton finished 4th-5th every year from 2009 to 2013, he isn’t that invincible.

      1. What has 2009 – 2013 got to do with Vettel’s performance in 2018 and the current discussion?

        2009-2013 was a period of Brawn (2009) & RB dominant cars. Hamilton was never in a car realistically comparable to the Brawn or RB during this period.

        Vettel was in a car absolutely comparable to the Merc in 2017 & especially 2018.

        In the context of the current overall discussion, your comment makes no sense.

        1. Vettel was a disaster in 2018, but 2017 wasn’t that bad and ferrari certainly wasn’t at the level of mercedes, see it like the 2001 mclaren vs ferrari.

        2. His 2010 car had strong race pace and in 2012 his car was the class of the field when it didn’t break down or McLaren didn’t mess up.

          1. @matt90

            “His 2010 car had strong race

            Strong race pace in some races, but fell behind both RB & Ferrari for a significant part of the latter season. Keith did pull some stats on here and concluded that overall, the McLaren was the 3rd fastest car of 2010.
            Interesting what Adrian Newey said about the 2010 RB–that it was an inherently dominant car, but it appeared closer to the Ferrari & RB because the RB drivers made a lot of mistakes. Newey stated, with the pace advantage the RB6 enjoyed, Vettel or Webber should have wrapped up the title far more easily.

            in 2012 his car was the class of the field when it didn’t break down or McLaren didn’t mess up.”

            The McLaren MP4-27 was just as quick as the RB8 over 1 lap-maybe even marginally quicker. But it often struggled to match the RB8 on race pace. It’s talked about in this article:
            https://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2012/05/hamilton-considers-why-mclarens-race-pace-doesnt-match-qualifying/
            And of course, the McLaren was also slightly less reliable than the RB8. Combine all this with poor McLaren operational efficency, then it’s clear RB had the best overall package in 2012.

            The RBs of 2010, 2011 & 2013 were all dominant (or had the potential to be dominant). The 2012 RB, i will concede, wasn’t a dominant car.

        3. A*
          Thank You. Concise and to the point. I don’t think I could have said it better.

  5. The German GP still hurts for me…

  6. This year and some races last year put Vettel’s RB era into a different light.

    1. @zoomracing
      Not really, that’s like saying Hamilton’s 2011 puts his achievements from 2014-2018 in a different light.

      1. (@kingshark)

        Hamilton made some mistakes in 2011, but to be fair, his car was never capable of winning the WDC. The RB7 was an extremely dominant car. It’s often cited as one of the most dominant cars in F1 history. So, that means it was only ever going to be a RB driver challenging for the title in 2011. It’s a completely different situation for Vettel in 2017 & especially 2018 where Vettel has made so many errors despite having cars capable of winning the titles.

        I feel that your attempts to draw upon Hamilton’s McLaren years are a false analogy. I think you are forgetting that RB had dominant cars during this period, whereas 2017-2018, Merc & Ferrari had relatively evenly matched cars.

        1. What can he do to get out of this situation?

        2. The RB7 really wasn’t that dominant at all. McLaren won 6 races and Ferrari won in Silverstone. Red Bull won 12 out of 19 races, that’s nowhere near Mercedes dominance from 2014-2016.

          If anything, the RB7 was much closer to the 2017 Mercedes.

          Red Bull did take 18 pole positions, but Vettel stole pole on a few occasions when McLaren was quicker (Hungary, Japan, Abu Dhabi).

          I reckon prime Schumacher could have fought seriously for the title in the 2011 McLaren. He fought for the title in 1998 with a similar car deficit

          1. The RB7 took 18 out of 19 poles, that’s exactly the same number as the dominant Mercs of 2014-2015. They too took 18 out of 19 poles. The RB7 won 12 out of 19 races. That’s not too dissimilar from the dominant Mercs of 2014 & 2015 who won 16 out of 19 races. If Webber had been in his prime, and had been better able to adapt to the Pirelli tyres, perhaps the the RB7 would have achieved even greater dominance. Webber admitted he never got the maximum out of the RB car because he struggled with the change to Pirelli tyres and felt demotivated. I don’t usually give much credence to sites like F1 metrics, but it does raise a good point re the RB7 and Webber making it perhaps appear less dominant than it was otherwise capable of. The site assesses the RB7 as the 8th most dominant car in F1 history, and states this:

            “..the RB7, one of the most dominant cars in history.One of the car’s chief strengths was its use of off-throttle blowing of the diffuser, which greatly increased downforce during corner entry. Vettel used this feature to incredible effect, taking 15 poles and 11 wins. Webber achieved much less with the same car, taking only 3 poles and 1 win, and even scoring fewer points than Button in the heavily outmatched McLaren. With two top drivers in the Red Bull car, 2011 would have been even more of a whitewash

            Back on topic. The RB7 was relatively dominant– the McLaren MP4-26 wasn’t anywhere near being competitive match.

          2. A*

            I can see why you chose that name, because that was an indeed A* reply.

          3. Red Bull took the same number of poles as Mercedes did, but by a significantly smaller margin on average. Red Bulls advantage was on average 0.350s. Mercedes’ advantage in 2014 and 2015 was on average 0.700s. Mercedes was twice as dominant in qualifying as Red Bull, looking at the qualifying gaps.

            Also, there were at least three occasions where McLaren was quicker but the drivers failed to deliver in Q3. Hungary, Japan and Abu Dhabi. In the last example, Hamilton’s Q2 time was good enough for pole position.

            The RB7 won 12 out of 19 races. That’s not too dissimilar from the dominant Mercs of 2014 & 2015 who won 16 out of 19 races.

            Since when is 63% close to 84%? Math must not be your strongest suit.

            Mercedes won 60% of the races in 2017, so the RB7 is much closer to the 2017 Mercedes than it is to any car from 2014-2016.

            You keep harping on about Webber, yet Bottas himself drove poorly in 2017 and threw away at least a couple of race wins because of mistakes or poor racecraft (Brazil, Baku).

            Your argument from authority about the 2011 Red Bull doesn’t do anything to convince me, I can just as easily pull out this quote:

            Geoff McGrath added that beating qualifying master Sebastian Vettel will be crucial if McLaren is to be successful in 2012, particularly as its analysis indicated that the raw pace of last year’s MP4-26 was superior towards the end of the season despite Red Bull and Vettel’s run of poles.

            “He must be a brilliant driver, because by the end of last season we definitely had the best car and he was still whupping us,” McGrath said.

            “We’re trying to figure out exactly what he’s doing that’s so good. How does he pull out that fast qualifying lap every time? We think it’s driver skill. There’s no trickery on the cars, he just gets more out of it than we do.”

          4. @kingshark, you could use that quote, but it would be a bad idea given Autosport had to withdraw that quote from publication pretty quickly over allegations that the quote was fabricated and the entire story was a hoax.

            The problem is, Geoff McGrath was the Innovation Officer of McLaren Applied Technologies at the time. If you are familiar with the structure of McLaren, you will realise that McLaren Applied Technologies has nothing to do with the race team – MAT is an independent company that was originally set up to provide electrical components to the automotive division of McLaren, and motorsport is a pretty minor part of MAT’s work (it’s limited to producing the standard ECUs that are used in F1, IndyCar and NASCAR).

            It would be like asking one of the engineers who helped design the Ferrari 488 to give you a technical evaluation of Vettel’s performance this season – if he had any sense, he’d tell you that he doesn’t work with Vettel and you are asking the wrong person. It’s now thought to be more likely that the person whom Autosport spoke to wasn’t Geoff McGrath, but somebody impersonating him – with Autosport having to withdraw the article under a threat of legal action for libel by the real Geoff McGrath.

          5. Red Bulls advantage was on average 0.350s. Mercedes’ advantage in 2014 and 2015 was on average 0.700s.

            I haven’t checked the figures, so i’ll have to take your word for it. But again, how much of this is down to the car, how much to the drivers? In 2014 & 2015, Merc had two exceptional qualifiers. Rosberg, for all his faults, has always been very quick over 1 lap. Contrast over at RB in 2011. Vettel, also excellent over 1 lap, but Webber, with a back injury, struggling on the new Pirelli tyres, past his prime, demotivated, thinking about retirement-admitting that he failed to extract the maximum from the RB7. That’s surely going to affect the RB7’s stats. Put even Rosberg in Webber’s seat in 2011, and the RB7’s qualifying dominance would be even greater.

            Mercedes won 60% of the races in 2017, so the RB7 is much closer to the 2017 Mercedes than it is to any car from 2014-2016.”

            Races like Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, Spain, possibly Belgium etc, where the SF70H was quicker than the W08 but failed to convert those to wins, it’s these kind of races that can distort the figures.

            AMUs did some very good analysis on 2017. It concluded, that on overall race pace, the SF7OH & W08 was more or less even even. By the way, it’s not a case of “appealing to authority”–but rather interjecting expert view/analysis/data into the debate.

            The Wo8 wasn’t a dominant car. The SF70H was on a par with the W08. The RB7 was a dominant car (how dominant, that’s subject to debate).

          6. I haven’t checked the figures, so i’ll have to take your word for it. But again, how much of this is down to the car, how much to the drivers?

            Probably not much, given that both Hamilton and Rosberg’s average gap over the nearest non-Mercedes car in 2014 and 2015 was significantly bigger than Vettel’s average gap in 2011.

            Races like Singapore, Malaysia, Mexico, Spain, possibly Belgium etc, where the SF70H was quicker than the W08 but failed to convert those to wins, it’s these kind of races that can distort the figures.

            Singapore – agree
            Malaysia – the SF70H was unreliable, so it can’t be the best car that weekend
            Spain and Belgium – the cars were equal at best
            Mexico – Red Bull won that race, so it doesn’t take away from Mercedes’ 12 wins

            And it’s not like Mercedes won every race they should have in 2017. Bahrain, Baku and Brazil should have all been Mercedes wins but weren’t because of mistakes.

            Overall 12 out of 20 wins is an accurate reflection of how good Mercedes was in 2017, just like 12 out of 19 wins is an accurate reflection of Red Bull in 2011

          7. King shark
            We all appreciate you have difficulties seeing Hamilton as anything other than a mid level driver flattered by machinery while Seb is easily his equal but your analysis of 2011 which I might add is Hamilton’s worst year where he won three races (something absent from Sebs low points) We really do. But when a car, it’s own designer, a man with many championship cars under his belt states that it was a masterpiece and was clearly dominant and should have had a far bigger winning margin and then goes on to suggest that Webber (who agreed) underperformed and Seb made numerous unnecessary mistakes he should not have, then commentary continually supporting your assertion that the Mercedes 2014/15 were far more “dominant” while breaking down yet being driven by drivers at the top of their game and competing with each other is nothing other than churlishness.

            Only one other person got pole in 2011 – Hamilton.

            The fact is Seb is not the driver you want him to be – Hamilton clearly is and has proved it time and time again regardless of the cars he drives.

          8. @kingshark

            Probably not much, given that both Hamilton and Rosberg’s average gap over the nearest non-Mercedes car in 2014 and 2015 was significantly bigger than Vettel’s average gap in 2011.

            Perhaps. But Webber’s poorer performances will diminish the overall dominance of the RB7. I would agree that the Mercs of 2014 & 2015 were slightly more dominant. But the RB7 was in the ballpark. Had Webber performed at a more consistent level, the RB7 would/should have achieved even greater dominance.

            Malaysia – the SF70H was unreliable, so it can’t be the best car that weekend
            Fair enough. But for the sake of consistency, the same really should apply to races like Austria & GB where Merc had reliability issues (gearbox issues). And perhaps Baku too. Hamilton lost that race to a technical issue (headrest pin malfunction)

            Spain and Belgium – the cars were equal at best
            I think Ferrari edged it in both those races. It’s interesting that experts Mark Hughes & AMuS, both conclude Ferrari was the car to beat in both those races.
            However, even if we accept your assertion that the cars were equal–Hamilton won both those races. So we have those 2 races that artifiicially inflate the Merc number of wins, despite Merc not necessarily having a faster car than Ferrari in either Spain or Belgium. See the dilema? See how out- of -context stats such as win percentages, can distort, and not show a true picture?

            Mexico – Red Bull won that race, so it doesn’t take away from Mercedes’ 12 wins
            But perhaps it’s a race where Vettel should have won, and therefore increasing Ferrari’s win total tally/percentages.

            And it’s not like Mercedes won every race they should have in 2017. Bahrain, Baku and Brazil should have all been Mercedes wins but weren’t because of mistakes.

            Then one could easily say Russia is a race where Ferrari should have won. As for Baku,please see above regarding reliability. As for Brazil, debatable. I think Hamilton’s new engine has distorted perception of how fast the Merc was in that race. Mark Hughes better explains it than me:
            “In Brazil Hamilton’s combination of new engine and ideal tyre strategy afforded by starting from the back was way more powerful than the nominal difference between the two cars. but when Bottas needed the pace to do the undercut on the Ferrari, it wasn’t there. The Ferrari would have had an even greater pace advantage than Ham with a new engine and ideal tyre choice. Definitely Ferrari faster than Merc in Mexico. The Ferrari was also faster at Sepang and Singapore. Was just countering your claim that the Ferrari pace advantage wasn’t there in the second half: it was faster in 4 of the last 7 races”

            Also worth noting, there were a couple of races where the Merc looked to be only 3rd fastest (Singapore, Mexico).

            Overall, it’s probably close to 50/50 in race trim. As per AMuS assessment.

            Where the W08 was marginally better than the SF70H was over 1 lap. But i think the difference between the Merc and Ferrari in 17 has been exaggerated. The Ferrari didn’t have the top end speed of the Merc, but it was arguably a better race car.Wider operating window, kinder on tyres, more consistent (didn’t have the “diva” fluctuations), could sit better in dirty air & equal on overall race pace. It’s these reasons as to why many experts decided Ferrari was the best car, despite Merc having a higher top end speed.

          9. @A you just proved the merc was more dominant compared with the rb7

          10. Fair enough. But for the sake of consistency, the same really should apply to races like Austria & GB where Merc had reliability issues (gearbox issues). And perhaps Baku too. Hamilton lost that race to a technical issue (headrest pin malfunction)

            In Malaysia both Ferrari drivers were halted by mechanical issues, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. In Austria, Britain and Baku, there was at least one Mercedes car which was 100% reliable for the weekend.

            However, even if we accept your assertion that the cars were equal–Hamilton won both those races. So we have those 2 races that artifiicially inflate the Merc number of wins, despite Merc not necessarily having a faster car than Ferrari in either Spain or Belgium. See the dilema?

            Again, Ferrari won races where Mercedes were quicker too, namely Bahrain and Brazil, so in the end these things evened out in 2017.

            But perhaps it’s a race where Vettel should have won, and therefore increasing Ferrari’s win total tally/percentages.

            I don’t see a reason why Vettel should have beaten Verstappen that race. Verstappen was faster than Vettel all throughout qualifying until he messed up his final Q3 lap. Verstappen also had much better race pace than Bottas and Raikkonen. That race was Max’s to lose.

            Also worth noting, there were a couple of races where the Merc looked to be only 3rd fastest (Singapore, Mexico).

            The same can be said about Ferrari in Monza. Mercedes had much higher peaks than Ferrari though.

            Baku: Mercedes over 1 second quicker than Ferrari in qualifying
            Silverstone: Mercedes 1 second/lap quicker than Ferrari on race pace
            Monza: Mercedes 1 second/lap quicker than Ferrari on race pace
            Abu Dhabi: Mercedes 1 second/lap quicker than Ferrari on race pace

            Did Ferrari ever hold this kind of advantage at any race in 2017? I don’t remember.

            Overall, Mercedes had the best car in about 11-13 out of 20 races:

            China, Bahrain, Canada, Baku, Austria, Silverstone, Monza, Japan, USA, Brazil, Abu Dhabi and arguably Spain and Belgium

            Therefore winning 12 out of 20 races is completely representative.

          11. @kingshark

            Firstly Monza, that was simply due to Ferrari getting the set-up wrong in the rain, rather than the car being instrinsically slower due to the car’s concept. (as per the case of Merc in Singapore & Mexico). And the Ferrari drivers are partially responsible for their set-ups.

            SF70H was quicker than Wo8 (in race trim) at Australia,Monaco, Hungary, Russia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Belguim, Spain & China. Regardless of if they were converted to wins, that’s 50% of the tracks where Ferrari was faster than Merc. I’ve included China because analysis show the Ferrari was probably the fastest car in there.
            https://www.skysports.com/f1/news/12433/10832006/whos-fastest-in-f1-2017-mercedes-or-ferrari-vettel-or-hamilton
            And to reinforce this, AMUS also cite Ferrari as the best car in China (along with Belguim & Spain too).

            Whichever way you look at this, Ferrari was quicker in half of the races and competitive enough to challenge for the 2017 title.

          12. Firstly Monza, that was simply due to Ferrari getting the set-up wrong in the rain, rather than the car being instrinsically slower due to the car’s concept. (as per the case of Merc in Singapore & Mexico). And the Ferrari drivers are partially responsible for their set-ups.

            You are clutching at straws here. There is no evidence to suggest that Ferrari’s lack of speed in Monza was any less due to the inherit nature of the car than Mercedes in Mexico and Singapore. SF70 had inefficient aerodynamics and was far too draggy, this is a well understood reason to why they switched to a longer wheelbase for 2018.

            SF70H was quicker than Wo8 (in race trim) at Australia,Monaco, Hungary, Russia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Belguim, Spain & China. Regardless of if they were converted to wins, that’s 50% of the tracks where Ferrari was faster than Merc. I’ve included China because analysis show the Ferrari was probably the fastest car in there.

            I do not care about what journalists think. I watch races and make my own conclusions.

            China: Hamilton comfortably had Vettel covered pace wise. As soon as Vettel got ahead of Verstappen, Hamilton pulled out some fastest laps to increase his gap by half a second per lap. Bottas was last after his spin under the SC, yet finished right behind Raikkonen.

            Spain: Hamilton was constantly within 2 seconds of Vettel before Vettel pit on lap 14. After that their strategies were opposite so there is no more race pace to compare. There is no evidence to suggest Ferrari was faster. If they were, then why could Vettel not pull any kind of lead in the opening stint?

            Belgium: basically the same situation as Spain but reversed, Hamilton is leading but cannot pull a gap to Vettel. How come you give both weekends to Ferrari then?

            The weekends you try to give to Ferrari are very dodgy and questionable. In Malaysia both Ferrari cars had mechanical problems too.

            I understand why a Hamilton fan would want his titles to look as good as possible, but 2017 was not some kind of underdog achievement. He had the best car in 60% of the races and 70% of the qualifying sessions, as well as better reliability than his rival.

            You also haven’t responded to my other point. Did Ferrari, at any point of 2017, ever enjoy the kind of domination Mercedes did in Baku, Silverstone, Monza and Abu Dhabi?

          13. To Kingshark. You nailed in all your points. However , I don’t expect that A* will ever give up. I had the same argument with him last week, and it doesn’t matter the facts, in his view as a Ham fan , he was always in underdog cars even if the facts show otherwise. I didn’t have your patience to go thru all his quotes, but well done! I agree with your analysis as well.

          14. There is no evidence to suggest that Ferrari’s lack of speed in Monza was any less due to the inherit nature of the car than Mercedes in Mexico and Singapore

            But there is. It was a weekend where rain affected FP3, so the teams had less time to try /work on any set-up changes.. Ferrari themselves confirmed it was due to set-up:
            https://grandpx.news/screwed-ferrari-chasing-answers/

            I do not care about what journalists think. I watch races and make my own conclusion

            I make my own conclusions too. You’ll see in my very first response, i did say that i personally thought Ferrari had the edge at Belgium & Spain ( & i still do). That’s from my own judgement. And i don’t see the harm in introducing expert analysis into the debate. They often have access to more data etc than we do.

            Belgium – Hamilton didn’t have the pace to pull a safe gap out of undercut range. Vettel was marginally quicker, constantly within approx 1.5 sec, he just couldn’t pass Hamilton on track. Track position, rather than a faster car, help win Hamilton that race.
            China-as per link provided above.
            Spain- Hamilton was not constantly within 2 secs, as you have claimed. Vettel pulled away quite easily & by lap 3, Vettel had opened up a safe gap to Hamilton of 2.741secs and managed his pace. Hamilton, pushing fully, struggled to initially keep within undercut range. It was only nearer towards lap 14, that Hamilton managed to get within undercut range (Vet’s tyres now starting to drop off). Merc even mention this in their debrief, stating Hamilton had to work hard to initially keep up with Vettel, finally getting within undercut on lap 14( 2.13 sec gap to Vet on the previous lap).
            keith’s race chart details the gaps between Ham & Vet.
            https://www.racefans.net/2017/05/14/2017-spanish-grand-prix-interactive-lap-charts/
            The Ferrari was the quicker car in those early laps. Ferrari was quicker in qualifying too (Vet made a small mistake on his flying lap). These are the only 2 phases of the Spanish weekend where a direct comparison could be made. Ferrari was marginally quicker in both.

            So, including Spain, Belgium & China, it means Ferrari was quicker than Merc in approx half of all the races. So, Vettel had the best RACE DAY car, 50% of the time.

            As for reliability, Merc also had their fair share too e.g. Spain, Baku, Hungary, Austria, GB etc. So i don’t agree we should ignore these, while make special dispensation for Ferrari’s.

            “You also haven’t responded to my other point. Did Ferrari, at any point of 2017, ever enjoy the kind of domination Mercedes did in Baku, Silverstone, Monza and Abu Dhabi?

            Your initial question was about the large gap on race pace, at Monza, Silverstone & AD. Again, i haven’t checked lap times so i’ll have to take your word for it. But from memory, i do recall the following variables:
            Monza, Merc quickest, but gap exaggerated due to Ferrari going wrong on up set-up.
            Abu Dhabi, Merc was quickest, but gap was exaggerated due to Merc testing some of their 2018 parts & Ferrari having to ensure Sebastian Vettel finished the race, in order to secure runner-up spot in the championship and so ran its race extremely conservatively.
            Silverstone, i do recall Vettel (the benchmark Ferrari driver for race pace), having a lacklustre weekend, and being stuck behind a slower RB for a good part of the race. This would’ve affected his lap times & exaggerated the gap between himself & Hamilton up front.

            So, that really only leaves Baku quali without extenuating circumstances.

            Looking at all the available data, Malaysia could/should have been a dominant win for Ferrari.

            Merc definitely had the qualifying edge. But the raw numbers are mis-leading.
            Merc got 15 poles. Ferrari 5. For example, Vettel should have taken pole in Spain. Kimi really should have taken pole in Malaysia. All data from practice sessions indicating Ferrari had a very large advantage in Malaysia. Then there were a couple of of poles decided by a 10th, could have gone either way, the difference maybe down to the driver.

            Compared to Merc, Ferrari had the following:
            1. Race pace (overall equal to Merc)
            2. Much wider setup window
            3. Versatile and fast everywhere
            4. Better on tires

            I’m not claiming the Ferrari was better than the Mercedes. But the Ferrari was plenty fast/good enough to compete for the championship.

          15. But there is. It was a weekend where rain affected FP3, so the teams had less time to try /work on any set-up changes.. Ferrari themselves confirmed it was due to set-up:

            Even with the perfect setup, there is no chance that Ferrari would have been anywhere near Mercedes in Monza. The car was too draggy and too slow in high speed circuits like Monza and Silverstone.

            Belgium – Hamilton didn’t have the pace to pull a safe gap out of undercut range. Vettel was marginally quicker, constantly within approx 1.5 sec, he just couldn’t pass Hamilton on track. Track position, rather than a faster car, help win Hamilton that race.

            And Mercedes was the faster car in qualifying, therefore having a faster car did help Hamilton win in Belgium, even if it was a faster car only on Saturday.

            Spain- Hamilton was not constantly within 2 secs, as you have claimed. Vettel pulled away quite easily & by lap 3, Vettel had opened up a safe gap to Hamilton of 2.741secs and managed his pace. Hamilton, pushing fully, struggled to initially keep within undercut range. It was only nearer towards lap 14, that Hamilton managed to get within undercut range (Vet’s tyres now starting to drop off). Merc even mention this in their debrief, stating Hamilton had to work hard to initially keep up with Vettel, finally getting within undercut on lap 14( 2.13 sec gap to Vet on the previous lap).

            None of this proves that Ferrari was faster than Mercedes in Spain. If Vettel is unable to increase his gap over Hamilton after the opening lap, then Ferrari doesn’t have any kind of speed advantage. The fact that Vettel was faster only on the opening lap suggests that he simply took more out of his tyres than Hamilton did at the start of the race.

            Ferrari was quicker in qualifying too (Vet made a small mistake on his flying lap).

            Hamilton’s ultimate Q3 lap was a 18.9 if we combine his best sectors o

          16. But there is. It was a weekend where rain affected FP3, so the teams had less time to try /work on any set-up changes.. Ferrari themselves confirmed it was due to set-up:

            Even with the perfect setup, there is no chance that Ferrari would have been anywhere near Mercedes in Monza. The car was too draggy and too slow in high speed circuits like Monza and Silverstone.

            Belgium – Hamilton didn’t have the pace to pull a safe gap out of undercut range. Vettel was marginally quicker, constantly within approx 1.5 sec, he just couldn’t pass Hamilton on track. Track position, rather than a faster car, help win Hamilton that race.

            And Mercedes was the faster car in qualifying, therefore having a faster car did help Hamilton win in Belgium, even if it was a faster car only on Saturday.

            Spain- Hamilton was not constantly within 2 secs, as you have claimed. Vettel pulled away quite easily & by lap 3, Vettel had opened up a safe gap to Hamilton of 2.741secs and managed his pace. Hamilton, pushing fully, struggled to initially keep within undercut range. It was only nearer towards lap 14, that Hamilton managed to get within undercut range (Vet’s tyres now starting to drop off). Merc even mention this in their debrief, stating Hamilton had to work hard to initially keep up with Vettel, finally getting within undercut on lap 14( 2.13 sec gap to Vet on the previous lap).

            None of this proves that Ferrari was faster than Mercedes in Spain. If Vettel is unable to increase his gap over Hamilton after the opening lap, then Ferrari doesn’t have any kind of speed advantage. The fact that Vettel was faster only on the opening lap suggests that he simply took more out of his tyres than Hamilton did at the start of the race.

            Ferrari was quicker in qualifying too (Vet made a small mistake on his flying lap).

            Hamilton’s ultimate Q3 lap was a 18.9 if we combine his best sectors together, so while Vettel might have left some time on the table, Hamilton left even more time on the table in Q3.

            So, including Spain, Belgium & China, it means Ferrari was quicker than Merc in approx half of all the races. So, Vettel had the best RACE DAY car, 50% of the time.

            Yes, if you count every 50/50 race in Ferrari’s favour, then they are comparable to Mercedes in 2017.

            However, if you count those 50/50 races in Mercedes’ favour then the total score is something like 70/30 for Mercedes.

            Silverstone, i do recall Vettel (the benchmark Ferrari driver for race pace), having a lacklustre weekend, and being stuck behind a slower RB for a good part of the race. This would’ve affected his lap times & exaggerated the gap between himself & Hamilton up front.

            Using this logic, how do we know that Ferrari had the best car at Monaco 2017? Bottas was only 0.045s from pole. Hamilton had a lacklustre weekend and spent his race in traffic. Who’s to say that Hamilton couldn’t have just won the race from the front if he didn’t have a lacklustre weekend?

            Merc got 15 poles. Ferrari 5. For example, Vettel should have taken pole in Spain. Kimi really should have taken pole in Malaysia. All data from practice sessions indicating Ferrari had a very large advantage in Malaysia. Then there were a couple of of poles decided by a 10th, could have gone either way, the difference maybe down to the driver.

            These are Ferrari’s pole positions of 2017:

            Russia: 0.096s
            Monaco: 0.045s
            Hungary: 0.254s
            Singapore: 0.323s
            Mexico: 0.086s

            60% of Ferrari’s pole positions were decided by less than a tenth, and the other two aren’t very convincing either.

          17. As for reliability, Merc also had their fair share too e.g. Spain, Baku, Hungary, Austria, GB etc. So i don’t agree we should ignore these, while make special dispensation for Ferrari’s.

            Hamilton did not have a single mechanical DNF in 2017. Vettel did. Hamilton never had to start from the back. Vettel did.

            I’m not claiming the Ferrari was better than the Mercedes. But the Ferrari was plenty fast/good enough to compete for the championship.

            It was good enough to win the title, theoretically, but that doesn’t mean the cars were equal. The 1997 Ferrari was theoretically good enough for the title, but that doesn’t make it equal to the Williams that year.

  7. I think it’s much more simple than what is being suggested by some people. When Seb said his cars needed more speed, I don’t consider that as him asking for a car that was the fastest out there, but rather one having enough additional speed to be more competitive, and therefore allowing him to take fewer extra risks in an effort to make-up for the slower speed.

    In other words, while we all love seeing a driver who can push an obviously slower car to a win, using super-human driving skills, we obviously shouldn’t blame Vettel if he can’t simply dial-up that sort of skill through an entire season.

    1. As Vettel’s widely reported to be the best paid driver on the grid (up to $60M / year) then Ferrari obviously believe he be should exhibiting some “super-human driving skills” more often than not.
      It’ll be interesting to see if this salary puts even more pressure on him now he’s not the most successful driver still racing.

  8. Vettel is out of my drivers top 5 list of all times.

    Schumacher is still my Numero Uno . Then comes Senna. Then Hamilton. Then Alonso. Then Prost. And then *probably* Vettel (but probably).

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