Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Hamilton suspects Ferrari began 2019 car earlier than Mercedes

2019 F1 season

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Lewis Hamilton suspects Ferrari stole a march on Mercedes ahead of the new season by throwing their efforts into 2019 new car earlier last year.

Speaking to media including RaceFans during last week’s test, Hamilton said he believes Ferrari focused their efforts on the 2019 F1 season once it became apparent Mercedes were likely to win last year’s championships.

“Obviously during the year you have a huge group of people who are working towards winning world championships,” he said. “If you’re not looking like you’re going to win the world championship out of worry you might pull some of the team off earlier.

“So most likely they started developing this car a month at least earlier than us, maybe.”

The introduction of new aerodynamic rules for the 2019 season offered Ferrari a potential benefit from focusing on its sooner, Hamilton added.

“You only have a certain amount of resources you can use, you want to continue to make sure you solidify and win the current championship, or do you want to tail off to make sure that next year’s good? But you don’t know that next year’s going to be good because the rules change. So it’s trying to find a balance.”

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He also suggested Ferrari have a staffing advantage over Mercedes. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferrari had more people,” he said. “In Italy it’s not easy to fire people, that’s what I heard.”

[smr0901]”It’s different when you’re chasing as opposed to defending. Last year they arrived here with a car that was working well but they’ve done even better this year.”

Mercedes has important decisions to make over the coming days in how it responds to Ferrari’s perceived advantage during pre-season testing, said Hamilton.

“I’m really, really proud of what my team has done to get us to where we are today. It’s not that I’m worried or anything or disappointed or anything, we’re just incredibly encouraged and infused with the fact that we’re working as hard as we are.

“We’ve got a hill to climb but we know how to do it. It’s just about how we strategise how diligent we are in these next days to analyse what we do, no shortcuts and try to bring more performance.”

However he warned that Ferrari’s advantage at this stage in the championship will put them in a strong position as the teams begin developing their cars. “If you’re two or three steps ahead it’s easier to keep at least one of those feet ahead throughout the year. But time will tell.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 54 comments on “Hamilton suspects Ferrari began 2019 car earlier than Mercedes”

    1. First the complaint about Pirelli’s tyres and now this… It’s a lot of “maybe” and “so I’ve heard”. The first race hasn’t even started yet and already it sounds as if Hamilton is making excuses.

      Come to Melbourne Mercedes and all the other teams can show their hand and unleash their real performance / potential. Then we can find out if Ferrari really is ahead. Until then please stop the whining.

      1. Where exactly is he giving excuses Lewis is asked questions by media and has to give answers what do you want him to say nothing. Btw he isn’t whining.

        1. It’s all smoke and mirrors.
          He just doesn’t want to tell us who those girls in his car were ;)

          1. Lewis is two or three steps ahead of Seb in that department. It’s easier to keep at least one of those throughout the year.

          2. Hamilton twitter #stillirise edition

      2. Hamilton its a funny fish in italy its hard to fire people like it is hard in England becasue the Union that are very strong in England as well…. he is so talented there is no need for this type of comment over and over
        ( thats my opinion anyway ..)

      3. Lewis won 1 out the last 5 years. he never made any excuses then

        1. Ola Rey you mean he didn’t win? And I suppose you mean the championship, specifically the one he lost to Rosberg in 2016. Well, that was by far the worst defeat I have ever seen in Formula 1. I don’t think any driver ever was as sour, jealous, and unable to handle the loss exactly like Hamilton in 2016. His fanbase as well. Remember how he came out to say he regarded himself as the “moral victor”. Pathetic, to say the least.

          1. Rosberg won because he had the more reliable car. That’s probably why Hamilton was so miffed in 2016.

            1. Well, every season somebody loses the title because of poor reliability. Plus, Lewis could’ve won any of the first five races that season. Or at least coming second on Rosberg’s wins more often. But nope. Not to mention he lost 2012 exactly because of poor reliability and had a better composure.

              I’m with @brolloks here. It was pathetic to say the least.

            2. @niefer

              Did Vettel lose last year due to poor reliability?

            3. @KGN11
              What does Vettel has to do with it?

    2. Fair guess, I’d say they started working on it right at the exact moment Sebastian hit the wall .

      1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        4th March 2019, 11:02


    3. Maybe I’m foggy on this, but wasn’t Lewis publicly pleading for Mercedes to keep pushing their car development right up to the end of the year??

      Would those statements have mattered to the team or not is another story of course. Haha

      Engineer: “Toto, we have the briefings all scheduled for our w10 design goals.”

      Toto: “Cancel them! Don’t you read the news?? Lewis wants us to keep developing the W9.”

    4. Cristiano Ferreira
      4th March 2019, 9:06

      Its just a cheap mind game. Same thing as always. Everyone involved at Mercedes always says that they are “unprepared” or are “underdogs”. I dont know how someone can fall for that.

      The real meaning of this is: “You (Ferrari) built your car first, so you (Vettel / Ferrari) HAVE TO beat us.

      Stupid and cheap mind game. Every week we heard the same statement from someone who works at Mercedes.

      1. @Cristiano Ferreira I don’t know why you moan but Ferrari was the better car in 2017 and 2018 but Vettel messed up, Ferrari simply has a strong car like previous years. Get your head out the sand cause you’re ignorant if you think Mercedes was the better car.

        1. @noname

          2018 maybe on par. 2017 no.

          The point is the never ending Mercedes moaning and “we are the underdog”. Most dominant team ever, likely to crush everyone again..

          1. Mercedes has had the WCC winning car for the entire hybrid era. You can’t strictly blame SV for that, as the car slipped backwards in gains last year until they reverted back to previous developments and started to strengthen again. And that is something you cannot do against the relentless Mercedes team. As LH points out, it is different chasing vs defending, and in this era Ferrari has been chasing. Perhaps we will see that change this year, but there is a reason they run all the races to determine who wins. It’s one race at a time.

            1. SV had arguably a better car than Hamilton in 2018 (especially when reliability is taken into account). Vettel takes a large share of the blame, with his errors & crashes.

        2. Cristiano Ferreira
          4th March 2019, 21:57

          Im not moaning, i just find it very boring that Mercedes states the same thing every week. “Everyone is better than us”, “We are underdogs”, “We are unprepared”. Hell, they won since the hybrid era began. How come they are unprepared or are underdogs?

          Who is going to fall for that? No one.

          No one from Ferrari, be it team principal or drivers play that “underdog” game Mercedes always plays. Not even Red Bull.

          So yeah, its boring to read the same thing at least 2 times a week.

          1. Tony Omotayo
            6th March 2019, 1:05

            Most media coverage of the two week testing have put Ferrari ahead. Some team bosses have said the same about Ferrari being a step ahead. I think Mercedes are just following the narrative of what people are saying.

            They may be genuinely behind Ferrari or not but it suits them to play the underdog card.

            Come on, most team hide their hand during testing. Ferrari may even come to Melbourne half a second or more faster than what they have shown in testing, Mercedes may be just that good at sandbagging and its all part of the game, giving your opponent false self confidence. I don’t think it’s boring, I think it’s intriguing until the first race.

            Bring on Melbourne!

    5. MaliceCooper
      4th March 2019, 9:09

      It’s no surprise. Ferrari most likely have about at least a million people working on their car. Probably. Robot ninjas from the future. Time travel. Maybe. It’s pretty suspicious. It’s either incompetence or they’re doing it deliberately. 100%.

      1. And don’t try to fire those robot ninjas; they will haunt you forever.

        1. Hunt you, not haunt you.

    6. Its all a complete re-run of the last 5 years of testing. Ferrari is always quickest, Red Bull always look like they’ve caught up. Mercedes sandbagging. Than an enormeous gap to the rest. And the press just goes for it year on year like something is really happening out there. The press is the puppet of F1 hyping something that is the same now for years

      1. Precisely.

    7. Completely agree. Just look at testing. Ferrari were faster with margin to spare, they still are the team that manages to gather and crunch more data and were the only team that already had by week two a completely new aero kit.

      Wait…. something is wrong…

    8. Sounds to me like Mercedes are trying to push down the odds at the bookies, no idea why anyone would want to do that thought, mmmmm….

    9. And the Hamboy underdog roadshow continues.

      By 2022, he’ll be telling us how he lapped the entire field in a go-kart.

      1. @ho3n3r Indeed, chicken man.

    10. Viagra must be ruing the moment they didn’t copyright the phrase “Still I rise”.

      1. The catholic church considered it hundreds of years ago but settled for the more catchy ‘Easter’.

        1. @coldfly Indeed they did, but the priests don’t only take those blue pills during Easter. Those altar boys are kept there all year round.

    11. “” “I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferrari had more people,” he said. “In Italy it’s not easy to fire people, that’s what I heard.”””

      In other words, Lewis hasn’t the foggiest idea what he is talking about.

      Start a sentence with no clue where you will end up!! That’s Lewis all his F1 career, so I guess we can’t expect him to change now….

      1. That to me appears to be the answer to a question put to him. A loaded question, but I guess to you, it’s an opportunity to criticize the most successful driver in recent times.

        1. Answers to lauded questions can always be turned into headlines.

          I suspect loaded questions here as the staffing retention at
          Ferrari wouldn’t normally be high on the list of things to talk about by a driver from another team.

          My guess is after a question about development speeds there was a follow up question about development timetables in relation to resource and staffing levels and Hamilton pointed out that Ferrari had more staff but as its difficult to fire people there it wasn’t indicative.

      2. Pretty much! Or he’s drunk most of the time.

    12. For those who feared Alonso’s departure, it’s like he’s never left.

      1. @toiago have to disagree. Alonso woul have added that it was the best testing of his career and pushed like an animal, still others were quicker and did more laps

    13. georgeboole (@)
      4th March 2019, 12:44

      You have to admit Hamilton is great at mind games

      1. Yes, he gives the same answer to lead in times for the new cars that’s been given a thousand times before by teams, drivers, engineers, TPs; and yet the net result is he has half the forum reaching for their comfort blankets. How does he do it?

      2. @georgeboole Did you read what Hamilton said? “I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferrari had more people,” he said. “In Italy it’s not easy to fire people, that’s what I heard.” That is probably the most asinine thing one can say when you asked about the reasons for a team’s (supposed!) superiority. This is ludicrous to say the least.

        1. georgeboole (@)
          4th March 2019, 21:11

          @brolloks I never said there is any solid argument in defence to what Hamilton sais. But I m sure he already got in Vettel’s mind just by suggesting that Ferrari admitted defeat before the end of the championship.

    14. Lewis constantly positioning Merc as an underdog is getting rather tiresome.

    15. Next up after Belgian 2019, Hamilton suspects Ferrari have 50hp advantage. Vettel disappear from his vision on straight line!

    16. Ferrari was the better car in 2017 – Not by a long shot.

    17. He only forgot to consider Mercedes was building two different cars at that period, because there’s no way in hell you show up with a spec-B car only within a week between tests.

    18. Hamilton always seems to put out the “conspiracy theories” when something is not going his way, why? Remember when Kimi ran into him in Silverstone? He said it may have been planned, so many ferraris taking out Mercs lately. Did the same about questioning their legality with the MGU-K last year. How about the engine debacle with Nico.
      So this latest one doesn’t surprise me one bit.

    19. Hamilton should just shut up and concentrate on his driving instead of talking ferrari this ferrari that etc….he is a mercedes driver and should just stop giving ferrari is not giving a good impression when he keeps this kind of talk.

    20. ALL the pundits say the Ferrari looks the better car this year. And so does the paddock consensus. It is well planted in the coners and looks better balanced. Even Vettel claims he is happy with the car.

      However, EVERYONE at Mercedes, including both drivers have complained about the balance and handling of the W10. And the pundits and paddock consensus agree.

      But if Lewis say it, all hell breaks loose.

      Moreso, Mercedes felt no need to do a time on the fastest tyre all through the 2018 testing season, but felt the need to use it in the first week of testing this season.

      All this points at a grow realisation that Mercedes is indeed starting 2019 on the back foot. I predict this to be the hardest season for Mercedes in the hybrid era. And unless Ferrari /Vettel implode spectacularly, the championship is theirs for the taking.

    Comments are closed.