Mercedes expect “tight” fight for second in championship after Ferrari gains

Formula 1

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The progress Ferrari have made with their car in recent races has left Mercedes increasingly concerned about their hold on second place in the constructors championship.

Ferrari have outscored Mercedes in each of the last four rounds. During that time they have cut their deficit to Mercedes from 51 points to 20. There are 309 points available over the remaining six rounds, which include three sprint race weekends.

Over that. Ferrari also became the only team other than Red Bull to win a race this year. Following Carlos Sainz Jnr’s triumph in Singapore, Ferrari brought a revision to its floor for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka and made further inroads into Mercedes’ advantage.

But exactly where that leaves the two teams in terms of their relative performance is not clear, says Mercedes’ head of trackside engineering Andrew Shovlin. “It’s difficult to know because this has been an unusual track,” he explained after Sunday’s race.

“We’ve not performed well, they brought an update. So there’s too many variables to really work out exactly where they sit.”

Shovlin says the gap between the two “wasn’t big” in the race. Mercedes managed to beat one of the Ferraris with one of its cars, Lewis Hamilton leading Sainz home.

The team have more developments planned for the W14 over the rest of the season. Shovlin believes these will be crucial in determining the outcome of the fight for the runner-up spot behind Red Bull, who have already secured this year’s title.

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“We’re looking at things that we can do in the next few races to try and bring a bit of performance. And I think it’s going to be tight but I’d rather be 20 points ahead than 20 points behind.

“But as I said, fundamentally it will be how much performance can we bring? I think the quickest car will win over the next six races or whatever we’ve got to remaining and so we need to try and make ourselves the quickest of those two.”

Both teams face the added complication of McLaren’s recent strides in performance. Shovlin said the full extent of the progress they made with their latest upgrade only became apparent in Japan, where both their cars started and finished immediately behind Max Verstappen.

“The update they did in Singapore didn’t look massive there, but that’s all low-speed corners, here it’s all high-speed and that’s what we saw them get very good at when they did the previous update in Austria. So right now they’ve just got a better car.”

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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10 comments on “Mercedes expect “tight” fight for second in championship after Ferrari gains”

  1. Well Mercedes has gone backwards despite Aston Martin imploding and there being 1 extra sprint race.
    In the last 8 races Mercedes has been outscored by Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.

    With 6 races to go, including 3 sprint races, Mercedes is just 20 points behind while in the last 6 races (incl 1 sprint race) Ferrari outscored them by 32 points. What in the end might save Mercedes 2nd place is McLaren being faster than Ferrari resulting in less points lost.

    See below for 6 teams the points compared from first 8 races (till Canada) and last 8 races (starting Austria). I added Alpine because there has been a big swing between team mates.
    With Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren en Aston Martin the 2 drivers moved up or down same as their team. Alpine and Red Bull scored less but 1 of their drivers scored more than in first 8 races.

    Mercedes: 167 points versus 138 points = 29 less
    Lewis: 102 points versus 88 points = 14 less
    Russell: 65 points versus 50 points = 15 less

    Ferrari: 122 points versus 163 points = 41 more
    Leclerc: 54 points versus 81 points = 27 more
    Sainz: 68 points versus 82 points = 14 more

    McLaren: 17 points versus 155 points = 138 more
    Norris: 12 points versus 103 points = 91 more
    Piastri: 5 points versus 52 points = 47 more

    Aston Martin: 154 points versus 67 points = 87 less
    Alonso: 117 points versus 57 points = 60 less
    Stroll: 37 points versus 10 points = 27 less

    Red Bull: 321 points versus 302 points = 19 less
    Max: 195 points versus 205 points = 10 more
    Perez: 126 points versus 97 points = 29 less

    Alpine: 44 points versus 40 points = 4 less
    Ocon: 29 points versus 9 points = 20 less
    Gasly: 15 points versus 31 points = 16 more

    1. Great stats! Think Mercedes is in trouble as neither driver is happy with the team nor each other.
      HAM has huge mood swings on track like freaking out whenever he is sent out into the madness that is the last few minutes of qualifying as the track evolves. All of us on RaceFans know what is going to happen when the clock shows under 3 minutes remaining in a qualifying round, yet HAM is on the radio yelling at his team that they sent him out in traffic. I actually laugh now when I hear it.
      RUS’s ego is 10x his skill. Dude, you’re lapping 1 second a lap slower than everyone that did a 2 stopper. There is no way you’re not getting passed by people that are X seconds behind you with X+2 laps left to race unless a VSC or Safety car appears. Do the math or have your engineer do it for you.

      1. Every driver is complaining about traffic. Didnt recognize Hamilton is doing this any more than others.

  2. Mercedes has the same issue Aston Martin has, their other driver is below the competition at the moment.
    Russell lost too many points this season. If he hadn’t crashed in Canada and Singapore, and had finished these races at the positions he was in when he crashed, Mercedes would be far more confortable to clinch 2nd than they are now.

    1. Russell should focus on finishing races and scoring points rather than trying to beat his teammate. Toto should explain this to George.

      1. Yes, both of you made good points, I thought singapore was a really big waste because russell himself had higher chances to get 2nd by not pitting (I know he wanted to try for the win, but team points are important too) and even after he pit the last lap there was no chance any more on norris, and he must’ve known he was safe from hamilton since they were all in a drs train, so at the last lap it’s really bad to waste 15 points, plus an extra 3 with losing strategy.

      2. In fact, I was thinking when he crashed that if he had somehow not got stuck into the barrier or broke a suspension he would’ve been fine for 4th place given the little remaining distance and the huge gap to leclerc\verstappen, so if that happened team points would’ve been fine and it’d have been a 3-points costing mistake for him, but ofc he had to crash in such a way he couldn’t go on.

  3. Would you rather finish second and win a prize money you don’t need/can’t spend or finish third and enjoy extra wind tunnel time? I think they are both fighting to finish third since first and fourth are out of reach.

  4. How is Suzuka an unusual track?
    I think the only track after the summer break which is more complete than Suzuka is Cota.

    Zandvoort is mainly about front limited corners and maximum downforce.

    Monza is minimum downforce and very slow and very fast corners.

    Singapore is mainly about rear limited corners and maximum downforce.

    Suzuka is front limited, requires medium downforce, has a lot of high speed corners but also the last chicane and a corner in t2 which are rear limited.

    Qatar is 100% about front limited corners.

    Cota is the most complete track, fast corners in t1 and one fast corner in t3, a lot of slow speed corners in all sectors.
    Medium-high downforce, long straight in t2.

    Brazil is mainly about front limited corners and is medium downforce.

    Abu Dhabi is mainly about rear limited corners and is medium downforce.

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