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Are the Ferrari drivers out of the WDC already?
#1
I hesitated before I wrote the thread subject and maybe that is a silly question after just 3/21 races but in past seasons a 31 point lead has been pretty significant and lets be honest Hamilton and to a lesser degree Bottas are highly unlikely to melt down like Vettel did last season.  Add to that the Ferrari car looks a lot more unreliable than its Mercedes counterpart and I think you could begin to see where I am going here. 

I thought at the beginning of the year based on lots of positive comments about Ferrari and not so good comments about Mercedes that both title races would be tight. My thoughts were I still had Mercedes as favourites to win the Constructors title and I am totally convinced barring exceptional circumstances that fight is almost over already.

The Drivers Championship could well come down to a fight between the Mercedes drivers and I think Hamilton would beat Bottas. The team orders at Ferrari are for sure holding Leclerc back he would be well ahead of Vettel were it not for some terrible luck and team orders right now. Maybe this is crazy but I think Vettel has a very small chance of winning the WDC this season and his team mate is going to finish ahead of him regardless of team orders.

The Red Bull threat as a team anyway is yet to materialize and although Verstappen is improving its clear he does not have the power to challenge either Ferrari and Mercedes on a consistent basis.  

If Ferrari want a driver of theirs to be in with a chance to win the WDC they have to put him in the best position possible and that driver is Leclerc. Its not Vettel.
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#2
Still early days but its not looking good Neil....and you never know whats round the corner....LH could trip over his manbag and break a leg Wink
"You live more for 5 minutes going fast on a bike than other people do in all of their life"....Marco Simoncelli
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#3
Too early to tell for me, Ferrari could win the next three, I'm gonna reserve judgment for a while, Ferrari would walked Bahrain but were unlucky, why does a two week gap between races seem so long lol.
"When a man holds you round the throat, I don't think he has come to apologise" 
Ayrton Senna on Nigel Mansell, SPA 1987.   Cool
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#4
(19-04-2019, 04:28 PM)NeilP Wrote: I hesitated before I wrote the thread subject and maybe that is a silly question after just 3/21 races but in past seasons a 31 point lead has been pretty significant and lets be honest Hamilton and to a lesser degree Bottas are highly unlikely to melt down like Vettel did last season.  Add to that the Ferrari car looks a lot more unreliable than its Mercedes counterpart and I think you could begin to see where I am going here. 

I thought at the beginning of the year based on lots of positive comments about Ferrari and not so good comments about Mercedes that both title races would be tight. My thoughts were I still had Mercedes as favourites to win the Constructors title and I am totally convinced barring exceptional circumstances that fight is almost over already.

The Drivers Championship could well come down to a fight between the Mercedes drivers and I think Hamilton would beat Bottas. The team orders at Ferrari are for sure holding Leclerc back he would be well ahead of Vettel were it not for some terrible luck and team orders right now. Maybe this is crazy but I think Vettel has a very small chance of winning the WDC this season and his team mate is going to finish ahead of him regardless of team orders.

The Red Bull threat as a team anyway is yet to materialize and although Verstappen is improving its clear he does not have the power to challenge either Ferrari and Mercedes on a consistent basis.  

If Ferrari want a driver of theirs to be in with a chance to win the WDC they have to put him in the best position possible and that driver is Leclerc. Its not Vettel.

I'm hoping it is still too early to say, but sadly I think you are right. So then we have the same situation as we have had throughout the hybrid era: Merc team and drivers dominating. I know other teams have dominated for a while in the past, but come on - 6 seasons of this much domination (by that I mean most years both championships tied up long before the end of the season) It's good for Merc/Hamilton fans, but is it good for the sport? I'm not sure Liberty will agree: Americans don't like to see too much domination, unless its by an American, lol.
The question is: what to do about it. Merc are not likely to agree to anything that will stop them winning everything and although there may be a slightly fairer distribution of funds in the future to help the smaller teams, money isn't everything. You only have to compare the performances of McLaren over the last few years with Force India.
So, how can the racing at the sharp end be made closer?
Answers on a postcard please Smile
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#5
In a word no.

Ferrari were close to walking away with the race in Bahrain, and Hesh posted some interesting trace analysis of that race in the race thread. In short I don't think we're going to be able to call the shape of the season just yet. Why? Because Ferrari have built an amazing engine, they just need to get their aero package working and we could see a very different championship emerge. We need to wait a little while longer yet, Baku should favour Ferrari, but if the aforementioned trace analysis is right about Mercedes going "long" on gears 7 and 8 and short on the mid gears they might not be as far off of Ferrari on that long straight as many think they will. But that gearing will hurt them in Spain, the last race before they get to change their boxes.

If after Baku and Spain we have more Merc one twos then sure, maybe we can call it then. But that is a big IF that we shouldn't be calling now. As to Vettel Vs Leclerc? I don't know. I think Ferrari pulling team orders in his favour for the first three races of the season is ridiculous personally, but maybe if Lewis continues this head of steam he's building up it'll be their only way to stop him. I happen to think Vettel over a season is probably the better bet, but I'd prefer it if he proved it first before Ferrari called off the racing.
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#6
I'm not diggin into this season as much as I have in recent seasons, so my take on this is purely at face and historical value.

Yes, Ferrari are out of contention for both championships.
Ferrari aero package seems weaker through corners, which on the majority of tracks (as Merc's design philosophy dictates) more speed through the corners, gives you better lap times. Merc's aero efficency is clearly ahead, better through medium to high speed corners, while in touch in the top speeds.
Slower corner speed could indicate lower downforce, meaning they could have a slippery car, which could contribute to their higher tops speeds, coupled with their good, but fragile engine. They are already taking electronic elements, which certainly isnt ideal this early on.
This years operating windows could also be a negative for the Ferrari marquee. As seen in the Chinese qually laps, the tyres didnt seem to hang on for the whole lap, compared to Merc's. Which is a complete swing from last year.
Finally development race, I hate saying this, as I wish it wasnt true, but we see it every year. They are always out developed throughout the season. For them to be in contention again, this year has to be different. Maybe it is, we havent seen them pouring on upgrades every weekend so far, so perhaps when they do come, real progress appears. BUT, Merc have never stood still.

I think China is a good indicator on form, it has everything, and it was a stable "normal" environment/weather weekend. Last year, Ferrari were marginally ahead in the race, and we had a good to and fro championship. This year Merc were clearly ahead, so we are going to need some upset to Merc's seasonal form for the championships to be open again.
I'm English, as such, I crave disappointment. That's why I support McLaren.
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#7
You know if you swap out Vettel and Leclercs points based on team orders and admittedly bad luck that would give Vettel 30 points and Leclerc 53 points which to me at least would put a totally different complexion on the Ferrari drivers and incidentally put Leclerc just 15 points behind Hamilton.

Yes I know its ifs and buts but not far fetched at all

Incidentally how I arrived at my points total I merely switched the points over from Australia and China where team orders prevailed and I gave Leclerc the win he thoroughly deserved in Bahrain.

As for the next two races Ferrari have not won in the three races in Baku and they have won just once in the last ten years in Spain and that was Fernando Alonso in 2013. Vettels only Spanish win came in 2011 when he was still with Red Bull.

Anything can happen for sure but its not looking good for the Scuderia!

PS I just looked up the word Scuderia and it means stable. I am sure most of you knew that I did not!
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#8
I hope for the sake of the spectacle Ferrari aren't completely out of it, but my gut feeling is they are seriously chasing the game rather than calling the shots as the hypesters predicted post winter testing. Problem is, Mercedes have the better overall package, the most well oiled "race weekend" team, historically the best in season development curve and (I hesitate to say this as it generally upsets people) the best driver of the era. I don't see Ferrari or red Bull overcoming these factors and after just three races in I am expecting a sixth WDC/WCC double for Mercedes. I will be very, very surprised if it goes the other way.

As has become tradition every single year in the off season, the media jump to unwise conclusions and give pages of "expert analysis" (hah! AKA bollocks, complete bollocks) around pre-season testing. I've watched it every year and always the same old tripe trotted out, Ferrari have the best car, look at these awesome headline lap times, they are the team to beat. Everybody should know by now Mercedes run their own program in winter testing and never post headline lap times, ever. They also hide pace on long runs, they basically give nothing away. Why don't the media ever learn this? Am I the only person who gets annoyed with the media hype? I always just watch the cars and smile to myself as it is kind of cringeworthy when the Martin Brundles, Andrew Bensons, Mark Hughes, ... name your pundit, get so drawn in as to make firm performance predictions based on the smoke and mirrors known as winter testing. 

Regarding the Ferrari impressive top speed, I don't think Mercedes are too worried to be honest. I doubt there’s a great deal in it in terms of actual power, we are six years into this engine formula and gains at this point will be marginal at best. Law of diminishing returns has well and truly kicked in on the PU front. The differences we've seen so far are (IMHO) related to drag and how much the respective teams want to turn the volume up. To state the obvious, 21 races is a hell of a lot out of three units, I suspect Ferrari are running riskier engine modes so far. I could be wrong, but that seems the most likely scenario to me. Yes, in Bahrain Ferrari hit the sweet spot and were either unlucky or were overstressing what they've got available to them, depending on how you look at it. People will no doubt have differing opinions on that one.

As to the red team backing Vettel over LeClerc, everyone knows my opinion on that one. We are only three races in and Vettel has made a typical very high profile mistake already. A mistake any driver with that many years under his belt should be embarrassed of really. How many does he need to make before the Ferrari management start thinking the hungry young charger will be the better bet? With similar equipment Vettel won't beat Hamilton fair and square over a season, LeClerc might though.

Regardless of how Baku goes (shit outlier track if ever there was one) I reckon the season is already showing string signs of being a two horse race this year. I said on a Sky thread that Mercedes are benefiting from James Allison transforming the Merc from a one trick pony "straight line beast" into a proper all-rounder. Ferrari, so far, look like they've gone the other way this year.
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#9
(20-04-2019, 09:55 PM)NeilP Wrote: You know if you swap out Vettel and Leclercs points based on team orders and admittedly bad luck that would give Vettel 30 points and Leclerc 53 points which to me at least would put a totally different complexion on the Ferrari drivers and incidentally put Leclerc just 15 points behind Hamilton.

Very good point Neil. If Ferrari don't know this already then someone should get on the phone to Binotto and point it out.
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#10
(20-04-2019, 10:23 PM)morini Wrote:
(20-04-2019, 09:55 PM)NeilP Wrote: You know if you swap out Vettel and Leclercs points based on team orders and admittedly bad luck that would give Vettel 30 points and Leclerc 53 points which to me at least would put a totally different complexion on the Ferrari drivers and incidentally put Leclerc just 15 points behind Hamilton.

Very good point Neil. If Ferrari don't know this already then someone should get on the phone to Binotto and point it out.

Actually Morini I just realized that if I gave Leclerc the win in Bahrain I would have to take 7 points off Hamilton too which would make that gap just 8 points!!!
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