Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019

Vettel: Practice pace shows Mercedes’ claims were “b*******”

2019 Australian Grand Prix

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Mercedes’ performance in today’s practice session shows their claims about lagging behind Ferrari after testing were “bullshit”, according to Sebastian Vettel.

During the pre-season tests Lewis Hamilton claimed Ferrari were half a second quicker than Mercedes. However in second practice for the Australian Grand Prix today he out-paced the teams’ rivals by eight-tenths of a second.

“What was all their bullshit about ‘oh we’re in such bad shape’ and so on?” Vettel asked after practice. “I didn’t understand that to be honest.”

However he admitted the scale of Mercedes’ advantage was unexpected. “It was a bit of a surprise. They looked really quick.

“I don’t know if it was just us struggling a bit today or also others. But as a matter of fact I think they were in a league of their own. Maybe everyone else was struggling and then we can turn it around.

“But yeah they look certainly very strong and much stronger than they claimed before the weekend.”

Vettel said his car didn’t always feel as good in practice as it had in testing. “I can feel I have the car under me that I had in testing but it doesn’t do the same things. It’s not doing exactly what I like here and there and that’s why I’m lacking confidence.

“At this point I think we are all flat-out trying to understand what happened in the session, the things that we tried, how we changed it and so on. I don’t think it was an awful session, I think here and there there were bits that were really good and we can build on so now it’s about stringing it together and have a better day tomorrow.”

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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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76 comments on “Vettel: Practice pace shows Mercedes’ claims were “b*******””

  1. The Ferrari looked immense on track. Ferrari are playing games, Vettel or LeClerc can win on Sunday.

    1. Just what I was wondering.
      Was it Merc B/S? – or is Seb playing mind games from day 1?

      1. Not really his style though, and what is there to gain? I dont think he wants to create acrimony between teams 2nd practice, race 1. Aint worth it.

    2. I don’t think so. I have come to the conclusion that the teams don’t deliberately sandbag. Ferrari has genuine issues, if they cannot sort them out they are in trouble. At the moment it looks like Merc has bought themselves another F1 championship this year and no other team is able to outspend them, they are just too gigantic.

      1. @aliced
        what is your prediction for 2020 and 2021? you seem to see whole season well in advance!

        1. If there are no budget caps, then the past five years results will continue and the team who spends the most will win the most, you don’t need rocket science or crystal balls to predict this.

          1. *cries in Toyota

    3. Not really. Mercedes looked mega in testing and the car looks great, it looked great on week 1 of testing and even better on week 2, after the mega update. Mercedes sandbag alot as usual. In the end nothing has changed.

  2. I would rather say that Mercedes was playing games. They have already established famous modus in their lives and victories. They pretend hiding their strentgth and Ferrari is instantly emotionally killed, finding extremely stronger than expected, weird opponent.
    Psychologically stronger is winning.
    Aim your personal perfection!

    1. Uh-uh. Watch the Mercedes clattering and bouncing down the track. Reminds me of the 2009 Ferrari that was a fast car, but a monumental pain to drive (as Fisichella found out).

      Mercedes is getting more performance than expected, but at a cost. Ferrari has an easy to drive chassis, but it’s not liking Melbourne.

      I think the sandbagging is in the mind of the beholder.

  3. Ah, looks like we’re in for a good season, both on track and verbally!

    1. Kimi will win.

  4. I’m happy that track adpatation may change competitive order from race to race. Here’s to hope

    1. Yep, that would be great to have @tango

    2. yeah, I am into that for a change, makes it less predictable what will happen.

  5. *imagine my shock*

  6. Doesn’t seem like much of a surprise when they test in the cold and then go to a hot place for the first race.

  7. YAY! 1 – 0 to Mercedes!
    + SeeBashem’s first dummy spat out for 2019 season!!
    Plenty more to come when Charles drubs him resoundingly & repeatedly!! :)
    Won’t see the real deal until Qualy though.

    1. @wildbiker

      If Seb’s Ferarri was anywhere near the quality of his old Red Bull he would never be receiving this criticism. He wiped the floor with Lewis back then. Pretty obvious all along Mercedes where trying to gain a mental boost for Lewis with mind games.

      1. Ferrari. Were.

      2. That makes no sense even for a specialist in serial nonsense. When Vettel had his title-winning Red Bull, it was far better than the McLaren and Mercedes Hamilton had to drive, which you’ve acknowledged by saying Vettel’s present Ferrari – equal, at least, in performance to the Mercedes last season – is nowhere near as good, relatively, as that Red Bull was. Is it satire? I can’t tell anymore.

        1. title-winning red bull far better than the mclaren? at its top that red bull had a 0.250s advantage on the rest of the field – in 2012 the mclaren was the fastest car albeit not the most reliable

          in contrast merc had 2s advantage in 2014, 1s advantage in 2015 and 0.5s advantage in 2016.
          also, too early to tell really, but at the moment it looks like they have a 0.8s advantage for this year.

          you might want to consider that “far” advantage you think red bull had over its competition. yes, maybe webber wasn’t a cream of the cream driver but seriously, he finished 5th in the same car – take 2014, you can stick a trained chimp in that second mercedes and nobody will outrace it.

          1. Does it really matter Zekret, Vettel lost when he had a quicker car last year so yh.

          2. @zekret i think you are great comedian…

            “at its top that red bull had a 0.250s advantage on the rest of the field – in 2012 the mclaren was the fastest car albeit not the most reliable”

            Red Bull was greatly faster than (0.250 is laughable) rest of the field due to aero advantage! Vettel would start from the back and in 3 laps he would be leading. Merc never had that kind of speed even in 2014! 2009 brown won the title due to superior aero! and redbull was there already. It was not due to engine, which was bad/unreliable yet 50% of the time it was driveable which won them the championship . If their engine was reliable noone would touch them at all similar to merc 2014.

            “in 2012 the mclaren was the fastest car albeit not the most reliable” yup they were consistently (10+ seconds) slower when Red Bull engine run properly!

            2013 Mercedes was the fastest single lap racer which was bad/slow to drive in the race! Speed doesnt matter over a lap, when you finish ahead at the chequered flag is what gives u the win!

            “take 2014, you can stick a trained chimp in that second mercedes and nobody will outrace it.”

            I bet you a million dollar, if they stuck you in that second mercedes, you would be dead last! Dont make excuses!

          3. @mysticus

            Vettel would start from the back and in 3 laps he would be leading

            I don’t think VET starting at the back and then leading was ever a thing, at least in the Red Bull days.

            Merc never had that kind of speed even in 2014!

            Red Bull didnt even in 2013. i think you are great comedian…

          4. @mysticus are you implying that zekret could possibly be a trained chimp? *snickers*

          5. @gufdamm
            no i love animals, wouldnt insult them :)

      3. Mark Webber also wiped the floor with Lewis in the Red bull. I think that says it all.

        We’ve had a fairer fight between Vettel and Lewis since 2017… And let’s face it… Vettel has been getting outclassed pretty convincingly.

        1. @todfod idk, did WEB? There’s I guess 2010, then 2011 when even BUT beat HAM (in a positive way he’s probably still been rising ever since,looking at his driving, intended as the pun is), then 2012 where HAM finished ahead, and then 2013 where HAM was only 10 points behind.

          To me it’s a bit like trying to discredit HAM’s drives by saying ROS wiped the floor with everybody else.

          1. @davidnotcoulthard
            Well.. Webber did finish ahead of Lewis in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. The same way Vettel finished ahead of Lewis in those years as well. If his argument was ‘Vettel wiped the floor’ with Lewis’ during the Red bull days, it just doesn’t hold much validity, because the Red bull was so far ahead of the Mclaren, that even Webber was finishing ahead of Hamilton.

            As you mentioned, saying Rosberg wiped the floor with Vettel during 2014 to 2016 is also a false statement.

          2. @todfod Fair enough, re-reading it again from the parent I can see what you meant now.

  8. Read The Secret Aerodynamicist on the bbc site.
    It looks like Merc may have more of an advantage later in the season.
    Will we see a win for Le Clere? Will he slip his glasses up on the podium? (and say “Tis I.. Le Clere!)

    Remember the days of the “Secret Schumacher Diaries”

    1. This is a link to the article @rpaco mentions

      1. Actually it was on the BBC site
        Though the link given by
        @qazuhb does go to a copy of it.

  9. The conclusion at the second training is: Mercedes fastest followed by Red Bull. The rest is possibly struggeling, maybe Red Bull too. We will know on Sunday. My guess is Lecrerc will fade away during the season. But a guess is a guess, no more no less.

  10. They should fire Toto. Ever since he’s leading that team, they have been struggling.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    At least according to him

    1. Womble Hunter
      15th March 2019, 13:11

      +1 :-)

      1. Put Paddy Lowe in charge

    2. @mrboerns Well last year Mercedes did have the slower car. Perhaps not over one lap, but there is more than one lap pace to a race result. Also for many races Ferrari had the fastest car over one lap, but either fails of the Ferrari drivers (like SIN) or a few rain (like SPA and HUN) drops meant that Hamilton was faster in Q3.

      Either way Vettel could/should have easily won AZE, AUT, GER, ITA and USA if he didn’t make mistakes in those races. That’s 7 poitn sextra for Hamilton and 7 to 25 points less for Vettel. Further mistakes in FRA and JPN where he could have at least been in P2 or P3, but due to all the errors there he ended up only in 5th and 6th.

      The points lost due to all those errors practically gifted Hamilton the WDC, but of course it was Hamilton’s achievement that he made no big errors like that at all. Plus some staggering Q3 laps.

      1. Or maybe the Mercedes was faster, but they managed the gap. Lewis could’ve been driving at 90%, so a great margin of error when needed, while Vettel was trying to overdrive, hence the mistakes… It’s a fact that Lewis drove more to the limit when competing with Rosberg than he did last year.

        1. It is a fact? where is this proof?

  11. I’m looking forward to Hamiltons quote tomorrow… “Qualifying pace shows Ferrari’s struggling in practice claims were horse####”

    1. And they say Formula 1 is anti-ecological, even with this amount of natural fertilizer being produced.

      1. @wonderbadger
        I’m looking forward to Hamiltons quote on Sunday, We prefered to laugh and party after the race. See you next race :)

      2. And they say Formula 1 is anti-ecological, even with this amount of natural fertilizer being produced

        🤣 @david-br

  12. Its a competition so I suspect each team working on their stuff day in and day out.

  13. As Bottas admitted their rivals performance remains unknown. “We haven’t seen the full performance from any of the other teams”….This is practice ppl…..How many times have we seen a flip in performance when it comes to who heads practice and who gets pole?? Good grief…We all know everything is speculation as to which team is stronger until after 3 races. Have we forgotten who won the opening race last year??

    1 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:29:33.283
    2 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +5.036
    3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari +6.309

    1. My friend we have heard this song sung for the last 5 championships the idea that Ferrari is playing it easy is false. Welcome to the 6th consecutive silver arrow double championship

    2. You do remember the circumstances surrounding that result, no?

  14. I believe Vettel as Leclerc was really struggling in the second session, so seems they hit some car setup trouble.
    Max ran his soft tyre lap as part of his long runs, still with full tanks, so I don’t believe the Mercedes advantage to Red Bull is really 0.8s. Max should be a few tenths faster than Gasly. Highly curious to see if the Honda “party mode” is real come qualifying tomorrow.

  15. I’d love to watch the replay, but F1TV is back to stuttering and being unwatchable. That was all fixed last year, but it’s back to alfa-release quality.

    1. @zapski The F1TV has been abysmal all day today. It’s an absolute disaster. Unwatchable. I am disgusted. Where is the forward planning? I was looking forward to the race. Now I’m wondering if I will even be able to see it live.

      1. Totally unwatchable. Waste of good money…

      2. TotalSportek.com

  16. FP1 Mercedes was faster than Alfa Romeo 1,2sec Ferrari was faster than AlfaRomeo 1,1 sec
    FP2 Mercedes was faster than Alfa Romeo 0,9sec Ferrari was faster than AlfaRomeo 0,1 sec
    Also time gaps between Mercedes Haas confirms correlation (1,2sec FP1 1,3sec FP2)

    So where that 1 sec difference between Ferrari & Alfa Romeo has gone in the second FP. It seems to me either Ferrari did not run with low fuel and used Alfa Romeo as the touchstone for low fuel runs or they have huge problems with the tyres. Barcelona is a race track which eats tyres very quickly (espacilly front left) on the other hand Melboune is a race track easy on tyres which may suits Mercedes better, especiaslly when the track is still green.

  17. Just a constant battle for who can win underdog status.

    1. Yep, so that whoever loses will have the worst car, whoever wins will be the best driver…

  18. As I said on the predictions article, I was amazed how many people fell for Mercedes and Hamilton’s BS when they’ve been doing it for years. The more they say it, the more they know they are in front but don’t want bad the bad publicity of winning easily and making the sport boring to watch.

    1. Unfortunately the sport (at least the fight for the podium) is boring and has been since 2014 apart from a few special races. Even in the days of Red Bulls dominance other teams won races (circa 2010, 11 and 12) and the same with the Schumacher years at Ferrari bar 2002 and 04 – Williams, Mclaren and Renault all won races with legitimate pace)
      So far since 2014 merc have won such a high percentage of the races, and apart from ferrari last year the other teams (red bull) to win races have been because merc have made mistakes. The advantage that mercedes have got with being able to develope these engines 4 years in advance of everyone else i doubt will ever be caught up. the fact that they threatened to pull out of the sport if these new engine regs were not implemented by 2014 says it all really. Ferrari may get close, even hopefully this year, but I cant see the status quo changing until these ridiculously expensive engines are binned off. thing is, its all roses for Lewis at the moment getting all these championships, but in 30 years when they look back at his legacy, due to Mercedes dominance there will always be an asterix next to it, similar to the way people view Schumi’s Ferrari championships (unlimited testing, tyres designed for the car etc). Nobody is questioning the talent of those two drivers, but their championship dominance periods will always have an asterix for me. And before anybody says it I realise Ayrton had an all out dominant car in 88 and 89, and Jim Clark in 63 – 65, but not to the level and longevity as what Merc have now. Plus reliability was nothing like it is now. I just hope for the sake of the future of the sport (and viewing numbers) that other teams can battle for the pole/win this year.

      1. has been since 2014 apart from a few special races

        Because that wasn’t preceded by one driver-team combination scooping up all championships 4 years in a row?

        1. Red Bull years – 2010-2013 (4 seasons) Wins
          Vettel – 34, Alonso – 11, Hamilton – 11, Button – 8, Webber – 7, Rosberg – 3, Kimi – 1, Maldonado – 1
          Mercedes years – 2014 onwards (5 seasons) Wins
          Hamilton – 51, Rosberg – 20, Vettel – 13, Ricciardo – 6, Verstappen – 5, Kimi – 1

          Red Bull total – 41
          Mercedes – 71

          Its not even close

          1. Even so Mercedes car domination is long gone. It’s just that the opposing driver can;t keep his car on the road. Vettel could have clinched the 2017 WDC and he really should have been WDC in 2018.

      2. The advantage that mercedes have got with being able to develope these engines 4 years in advance of everyone else i doubt will ever be caught up

        @gubstar Mercedes didn’t have an extra 4 years developing these engines. The plan for the architecture of the engine changed from a 4 cylinder engine to a V6 pretty late before the regulations were signed off. What Mercedes did do was a good job.

      3. As I understand it, the Mercedes V6 engine is a high compression engine that was derived from one built for a concept car built for a motorshow … I think it was about 2004 or such like. I believe that car was gifted to the then President of Hungary.
        I read somewhere the current hybrid rules were proposed by Renault.

    2. winning easily

      ? Ferrari were equal to Mercedes last season, most commentators giving them a slight edge in terms of tracks where they were ahead compared to Mercedes. Red Bull also dominated some tracks. The same applied the season before.

      Let’s see what the real gap is this season and also how Red Bull fare. It seems likely, though, that the teams will continue to converge. This can only be good. I can’t recall races and seasons being so competitive for quite some time, why the continuing complaints? All the BS about Formula 1.5 doesn’t help. It’s always been like this. Besides, even if there is a ‘midfield championship’ running parallel to the front two or three teams, it’s still (a) good to watch and clearly highly competitive (the Netflix series has shown that fairly vividly) and (b) the ‘stars’ from this midfield do get the chance to upgrade to the front – witness Leclerc. It’s all good and the season should be a classic.

      1. It’s not necessarily my opinion, just the opinion of a lot of the general public. If you ask a non-fan why they don’t watch F1, the subject of “the same person wins every time” always comes up.

        Mercedes want to control the narrative and have people believe that they haven’t bought all the best people, spent the most money, had rules put in place to benefit them and so on – they want people to believe that they are the underdogs and are coming out on top through sheer determination and hard work.

        1. @petebaldwin That’s a reasonable point but Hamilton and Mercedes obviously can’t be blamed for winning a fair enough fight the past two years.

          1. @david-br I personally don’t blame them at all – they don’t get as much “money for nothing” as Ferrari do and they managed to beat them convincingly. F1 has always been as much about the politics as it has about the sport and Mercedes have perfected both in recent years.

  19. Just to correct an obviously highly distraught Seb (or he’s counter-bluffing, more likely): Hamilton never said Mercedes were in ‘bad shape,’ as I remember he just said Ferrari looked in good shape.

    I really don’t know why anyone gets upset with this stuff. Bluffing and tricking rivals is an integral part of Formula 1 at every level.

    1. Just to correct you: VET never said HAM said they were in bad shape.

    2. He said Ferrari were half a second faster than Mercedes.

      https://www.racefans.net/2019/03/01/hamilton-ferrari-are-half-a-second-faster-than-us/

      I don’t have a problem with people bluffing. Admittedly, it’s a bit annoying to hear the same group of people lie over and over every single week and people constantly fall for it but that’s not a problem specific to F1. That’s a problem we have seen regularly in the UK over the last few years.

      The frustrating thing in relation to F1 is that it means we can never believe a single word anyone says and it only succeeds in pushing fans further away from the sport. As we saw with the Netflix documentary, fans love to know what people behind the scenes actually think rather than the lies they constantly spout. It’s no surprise Mercedes and Ferrari wanted NOTHING to do with that project….

      1. @petebaldwin He actually said: “I think it’s potentially half a second”. So no, he didn’t really say what that clickbait headline states.

        1. @f1osaurus Ok. Please explain the difference between “I think it’s half a second” and “I think it’s potentially half a second.”

          1. @petebaldwin The difference is between Hamilton stating “Ferrari ARE half a second faster” and guessing “I think it’s potentially half a second”. The second line contains two words indicating uncertainty indicating they don’t really know, but according to their best guess, Ferrari were faster during winter testing.

  20. Sorry if this has been posted in a different thread, but thought it was quite insightful.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/47527705

    1. @icarby Cheers, very interesting about the Ferrari/Mercedes design difference.

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