It’s been a very long time since anybody has been able to go toe to toe with Mercedes-AMG Petronas in Formula 1. Now, however, it seems as though Ferrari are doing more than just matching their rivals’ pace.
Even last year, when Sebastian Vettel looked very strong during the first half of the season, Mercedes managed to show that their car was better than the Ferrari. The fact that things have seemingly changed is very refreshing for the sport.
Vettel’s victory in Belgium was an extremely important one. First, it helped him get closer to Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers’ Standings, and second, it showed Mercedes that the Scuderia actually has a straight line speed advantage.
“When I look at the race I see many deficits,” said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff. “It is the slow speed, and it is the traction. Plus clearly, compared to the Ferraris and the Red Bulls and the Force Indias, [we were] the car that was cooking the tires the most.”
The Mercedes exec went on to say that Ferrari “have a power advantage,” according to Autosport. “We saw that in qualifying that their power advantage is on various parts of the straight, and you can see that even if the [corner] exists are worse than ours, their engine keeps pulling.”
“So yes, we can see that they have a slight power advantage.”
Wolff also mentioned that it could all be related to how Ferrari run their engines and how they are calibrated. He quickly dismissed the notion that any trickery might be at play, which is what Lewis Hamilton seemed to imply following Vettel’s victory at Spa.
While Wolff doesn’t think that his team can suddenly make up the deficit to their rivals over night, he is hopeful that they can continue to improve throughout the season, optimizing the way in which they run their engines.
Next weekend’s race at Monza will see Mercedes introduce a new aerodynamics package. Whether or not that will be enough for them to compete with Ferrari on the circuit’s extremely long straights is something we’re looking forward to seeing.