Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2019

Mercedes fear even greater Ferrari power advantage on Shanghai and Baku’s long straights

2019 F1 season

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Mercedes are concerned Ferrari will have an overwhelming power advantage on the long straights at the next two rounds of the 2019 F1 season.

The Shanghai International Circuit, scene of next week’s race, features the longest straight on the calendar, measuring 1.4 kilometres. Two weeks after that the teams will race at Baku, which features several high-speed sections and one of the longest flat-out stretches the drivers race on all year.

Valtteri Bottas said Ferrari was “making all the time on the straights” in Bahrain which has the team worried for the upcoming rounds.

“The next two races, China, Baku, it’s massively long straights. I think [in Bahrain] they were making more than four-tenths only in the straight lines, a lap. And we can’t find four tenths like this.”

“We are improving the car all the time,” he added. “We need to review what we can do for the straight lines but it’s going to be tough.”

Speaking before Ferrari confirmed a short circuit caused Charles Leclerc’s engine to fail while he was leading in Bahrain, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said their rival’s power advantage makes them the favourites for next week’s race.

“I would say if they are able to hold the power on the level, and I don’t know what on the engine failed, but if they are able to maintain those power levels in Shanghai on a power-sensitive circuit like Shanghai, they are the favourites, clearly. Because the lap time benefit might even be more than in Bahrain.”

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45 comments on “Mercedes fear even greater Ferrari power advantage on Shanghai and Baku’s long straights”

  1. That must mean a Mercedes one two then :-)

  2. For once, why can’t they just put out something like:
    ‘We’ve won the last 4 drivers titles and the last 4 constructors titles. We’ve had a one-two in the first two races this year. We’re clearly the favourites and our plan going to China is to dominate again’.

    1. Sorry, make that 5…. it’s all a blur anyway.

    2. manoli moriaty
      6th April 2019, 9:53

      No one who watched the race at Bahrain could say Merc dominated, despite the final outcome..

      1. Except they are the dominant team able to turn clear pace disadvantage in to 1-2, and outdevelop everyone.

        1. @jureo

          What kind F1 fan really thinks a bit more power = best team.

    3. @aussierod, but, of course, that rather neglects the context in which that 1-2 happened in Bahrain, where it was due to a mechanical issue for Leclerc and driver error by Vettel.

      When you look at the times, Leclerc was pulling away comfortably from Hamilton before his problems – more than seven tenths of a second per lap – whilst Bottas was over 40 seconds behind Leclerc and was also falling back from Vettel (admittedly, Bottas did have some debris in his front wing which will have compromised his pace a bit).

      Without those problems and those errors, Mercedes were looking at finishing 2nd and 4th in Bahrain. Ferrari had topped every practise session and had consistently been faster in a straight line in every single speed trap around Sakhir than Mercedes, Leclerc had topped every qualifying session before securing pole position, went on to set the fastest lap and had been comfortably pulling away from both Mercedes drivers until he had those problems.

      Why, on a rational level, should Mercedes say “We’re clearly the favourites and our plan going to China is to dominate again” when the SF90H was consistently the faster package in Bahrain?

      1. To finish first, first you have to finish.

        Fastest on the straights means nothing if you don’t have the whole package to win the race.

        Fastest in qualifying and practice means nothing if you don’t have the whole package to win the race.

        The overall package that Mercedes has is better than the Ferrari. This is backed up by the fact they have won the previous 5 wdc and constructors championships and have just taken consecutive 1-2’s in the opening 2 races this season.

    4. Well, first, because what happened last year or the year before is meaningless– Ferrari was riding high in 2004, and has won exactly 2 championships (1 WDC, 1 WCC) since then, mostly by accident.

      Secondly, have you considered the possibility that the attitude of “we can’t take anything for granted” part of the reason they’ve won the last 4 WDC and WCC championships?

      1. Anon; If my auntie had a *censored by FOM* she’d be my uncle.

        Driver errors and mechanical failures can, and do, decide championships.

        Calling Mercedes title favourites is not unfair. I agree with the initial sentiment.

    5. F1oSaurus (@)
      7th April 2019, 13:22

      @aussierod Ferrari were the favorites to win the championships in 2018 by a long way. Yet they made a total hash of it. Mostly Vettel, but the way they constantly used Raikkonen as a strategy pawn to aid Vettel never worked (apart from Australia), yet they kept doing it.

      This pre-season tsting Ferrari again came out as the clear favorites. They did something wrong in Melbourne (which they won’t explain) and a driver error and a technical issue saw them lose out in Bahrain.

      I guess you could claim that we can work on the basis that Ferrari messed up in 2017 and 2018, so they might throw away 2019 as well, but Ferrari clearly have the car advantage again, so why should Mercedes caim they have it?

      Moreover, it’s the polite thing to do to say that you have a worthy adversary. They even spretend that Vettel’s mistakes aren’t so bad.

      So yeah they lie about that, but what would happen if they actually said the truth. If they came out and said that Vettel is just too poorly able to deal with pressure and keeps blundering the titles away?

      Besides, the reality is that Ferrari had the fastest car over the whole season and that’s what Mercedes have to deal with. They cannot rely on Vettel messign up like he did in AZE, FRA, AUT, GER, ITA, JPN and USA (plus poor quali in HUN and SIN). If he had kept his head cool, Vettel might just as well have won (almost) all those races.

  3. Totroll to FIA “Hey Todt, their strange speed on straights need a check, you know aswell, when they improve 90% is cheat.. those mediterraneans..”
    Todt: “Hmm.. I already was thinking of new sensors to put on their PU.. Ok. MB call, I obey.”

    1. @formevic, I know that there are some who love to push that narrative, but neglect to mention that the Renault works team were getting very interested in what exactly Ferrari were doing last year.

      It seems that it was Renault who were leaking GPS traces to Auto Motor und Sport during the German GP that highlighted the unusual acceleration traces of the Ferrari works team, and Hulkenberg was actually quite vocal in the German press that weekend about what he felt were strange acceleration patterns by the works Ferrari’s.

      Now, I guess that some seem to think that “well, Mercedes are their nearest competitor and therefore must be the one behind this”, but the fact that Renault seem to have been compiling and submitting data to the FIA about what they felt was strange acceleration trace data indicates to me that it is far more likely that you would have had systematic lobbying from the rest of the paddock to investigate Ferrari. Indeed, it could well be that any action was due to lobbying by Renault rather than Mercedes, given they were also rather active (but, it seems, the English speaking media were less interested in what Renault were doing).

      1. the Renault works team were getting very interested in what exactly Ferrari were doing last year.

        It’s a shame that if they identified one of their deficiencies, that they didn’t try to replicate or better what Ferrari had done, or try to achieve a similar or better result for themselves by another means. Innovation. I thought that was what F1 was about
        Sure Merc probably had a public bleat also, but I am sure they would also have been burning the midnight oil to eliminate any advantage Ferrari had gained that stood up to scrutiny
        Disappointed for Dan if that is Renault culture.
        Bit then again I may have missed the point entirely

    2. It’s people like you that boost my stock in tinfoil companies.

      1. Hi ®grat, yes my vocal was sarcastic indeed, btyu know how it works.. the more you speak, surely something you’ll get. About the last year (in)famous sensor, did you notice anything about results? Did FIA found tricks on batteries? Why they don’t put sensors on all teams front & rear axles too, just saying.. they talk about re introduce electronic suspensions even they’re already in place ..

        1. @formevic, not really, since it turns out that whilst the presence of those additional sensors was reported in October, it turns out that they had been fitted to the car months earlier (probably back in Monaco). Vettel continued to win a further three races and led the championship with those sensors fitted to the car, so I think that the importance of those sensors is rather overblown.

          As for the comment about “they talk about re introduce electronic suspensions even they’re already in place ..”, I’m not quite sure what exactly you mean by that, given that the suspension systems of the cars have to be passive systems. Part of the push for active systems would be to make it a standardised low cost design, which really is more about tying it into the plans for future cost reductions as part of the 2021 rule set – it also helps to cut down on the pitch sensitivity of the proposed sculpted underbodies, since it maintains a more consistent ride height.

  4. Starting to get tired of all this BS coming from the Mercedes garage……

    1. Only starting? Wow you’re patient

    2. Ever run an F1 team? Have you ever been responsible for a 400,000,000$ a year program? Have you ever been responsible for keeping 1200 people motivated to continue to push and push despite winning time and again? My guess would be that you have not. People complain of Merc and their approach, well, except for those within the team . Maybe always refusing to accept a possible advantage is exactly how they keep motivating the team and keep the drive to always improve at the highest level possible. How does one rightly criticize an F1 team boss who has lead the team to 5 WCC and WDC championships consecutively? Do you think if Toto walked around saying “we got this” you think the team would become more lax? Running a construction crew I’ve found that my crew definitely works harder when we are behind. Once everyone thinks we are ahead we slow down. It’s human nature. Unfortunately

  5. Mercedes are so concerned about Ferrari and RedBull.

    Especially that Honda, they are so fast taking 1-2 in the race… Oh wait Mercedes won the first two races.

  6. This is the company involved in the continual emissions cheating scandal and been done for price fixing. Also the company that was angry that Alonso blew the whistle on their cheating with McLaren.
    Now we’re supposed to believe them that the Brawn and Todt -less Ferrari are the best team in F1. We’ev also been told for 5 years that Lewis makes the difference. So hey, lets enjoy him making the difference, like err Leclerc just did.

    1. My mistake.
      The latest investigations is a new one, that Mercedes parent company has assembled a cartel regarding our health.

  7. Now, sure I can sort of see why, but really, that many people reacting negatively to what, with pre-season testing indicated, and Bahrain seemingly confirming the Ferrari power advantage, can rationally be seen as a common sense prediction from Mercedes, that’s a tad silly.

    Plenty of ways for Ferrari to screw it up again, as they did in the first two races, but for now, it just doesn’t look like Mercedes should not feel confident in those next two races, apart from feeling they are still able to grasp chances whenever they present themselves.

    1. @bosyber

      Do you think Mercedes will be looking to replace staff or other ways to ‘catch’ Ferrari?
      IMO Ferarri will never be the best team again. The Brawn era was a one off. (Alonso’s biggest mistake thinking they would maintain that level by the time he joined)
      I also believe Honda’s days of bettering European technology in motorsport over.

      1. During Todt-Brawn-Schumacher era they grown tenths of jung engineers, but it needed Marchionne arrival to change the monarchy/ one-man at helm / messiah mentality still living from Enzo days. Nowadays Ferrary is in the same technical.league of the best (MB). Where they needed to improve lately was drivers and strategies and, I.say, the right step is done wiith Leclerc/Binotto

      2. Big Joe, maybe if you didn’t spout so much nonsensical vitriol 24/7 then something you say might actually be looked at with potential merit.

        Unfortunately for you the leading part of that sentence is purely hypothetical.

  8. ”The Shanghai International Circuit, scene of next week’s race, features the longest straight on the calendar, measuring 1.4 kilometres.”
    – I’m not so sure about that. To my knowledge, the length of the longest straight of SIC is 1170 meters or 1.170 kilometers, and the equivalent longest straights of YMC and the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez (I think) are longer than that in length. Baku’s longest full-throttle stretch is, of course, the longest continuous full-throttle stretch of the entire Championship at present, but the longest 100% straight without any curves in between might actually rather be the S/F straight of Mexico, or the longest straight of Abu Dhabi, or even Baku’s longest straight measured from after the last of the kinks to T1 instead of Shanghai’s equivalent.

    1. A 2.2 kilometers stretch along Neftchilar Avenue is the longest straight on the F1 calenda

  9. It’s interesting to see in the world of F1 where there is objective data that people’s abilities to live polarised realities mirrors the more subjective world of politics.

    Mercedes are for sure the best team when considering car, strategy, and driver(s) all together. All they’re saying here is the Ferrari has a power advantage and will likely be the pace setter at two tracks where power is critical, there’s clear data to show that. But a fortuitous result at Bahrain where the Mercedes was clearly second best and only driver error and reliability lost Ferrari the result is enough to distort reality for some that Mercedes are still dominant and that victory is a given for them.

    1. It’s yet one more sign that society has lost it’s collective mind. Logic and facts are irrelevant, or called “fake news”. It’s all about who can tell the biggest lie now. Unfortunately, this means when the truth is encountered, no one is quite sure what to do with it.

      1. I’m not sure what the implication is there Grat, As I said further up I don’t think it’s unrealistic to call Mercedes title favourites. They may not have the fastest car, but they didn’t last year. The big change is bringing in LeClerc (who I rate very highly) who is a rookie, and could easily bin the titles for Ferrari. Of course judging by recent events, the other driver is even more likely to do that.

        Suggesting Mercedes could continue to dominate is not exactly the proof “that society has lost it’s collective mind”. Plenty of other indicators exist. But not this.

        1. Fact: Ferrari had the faster, better handling car during testing.
          Fans: Mercedes is sandbagging.

          Fact: In Australia, Ferrari was much slower than they should have been.
          Fans: Toto Wolff and Hamilton lied to us!

          Fact: In Bahrain, after a dominating performance by both Ferraris in all sessions, Vettel has a spin, LeClerc has an electrical problem, Mercedes takes a 1-2 they didn’t earn (not saying it’s wrong, it’s racing, these things happen).
          Fans: Toto’s a liar, Mercedes is still dominant, Ferrari won’t win the championship.

          See any disconnects here?

    2. @philipgb

      people’s abilities to live polarised realities

      distort reality for some that Mercedes are still dominant

      Mercedes are currently the best team. Bigging up Ferrari is an insult to the engineers working for merc. Ferrari have got a lot of hard work to catch merc enough to win the contructors championship

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        7th April 2019, 13:30

        Big Joke

        Mercedes is not saying Ferrari is “better”. Clearly they are not. Ferrari are a mess. Even though they have the faster car yet again.

        Yet, Mercedes stated obvious fact that Ferrai has a power advantage and that’s going to help them more on tracks like that in China.

  10. Mark in Florida
    6th April 2019, 15:19

    I fail to see Mercedes problem with Ferrari top end. Speed is not the be all end all of performance. Red Bull beat everyone in the slow to medium corners during the championship years. Sounds like a lot of smoke and mirrors.

    1. There was considerably less performance variance between the naturally aspirated V8’s + heavily regulated and restricted KERS package than the current turbo hybrid units

      Renault also while down on absolute power had the better suited exhaust blown diffuser system, especially when off throttle blowing was permitted

  11. I can only imagine how much Mercedes are going to complain when they stop winning races. The way they are whining you would have thought they were at the back of the pack. Give it a rest guys, you are fooling no one!

  12. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Patience you must have, my young Wolff.

  13. Only thing Ferrari needs is the Renaults to break down in the last few laps at a inconvenient place. The will be in front by miles by then, but they need the safetycar before everything breaks down on them. ;-) Is it possible for Ferrari to improve their speed this season before Mercedes and Red Bull catch up or will we see a dominant Ferrari at last? It certainly can become Leclerc’s season.

  14. So it’s officially now Ferrari has overtaken Mercedes, having the best F1 V6 hybrid PU of the era. Hooray!

    1. F1oSaurus (@)
      7th April 2019, 13:31

      That was last year already the case though.

    2. The fastest.. Not the best. You have to run all the way, not only portions.

  15. I think Leclerc made the difference in the last race, not the engine. He dominated the whole weekend but jus was unlucky.

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