Mercedes at its worst is still better than Ferrari

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By , Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    “Both Ferraris could have won the race, that’s a fact. It could have also been the same at Singapore, that’s another fact.”

    These were the stern words from Scuderia CEO Sergio Marchionne, who delivered a brutal assessment of his team’s results following the recently concluded Malaysian Grand Prix.

    Blunt as Marchionne’s words are, it doesn’t change the reality of Sebastian Vettel’s predicament, with the German having haemorrhaged 50 vital points across the two races in Singapore and Malaysia.

    Having returned from the mid-season break as the championship leader, Vettel has within the space of four races gone into a 34-point deficit to Mercedes AMG’s Lewis Hamilton – who dodged bullets in the past two events.

    Singapore and Malaysia were pinpointed as the two races where Ferrari would be strongest, in the same vein as the Silver Arrows being in their element at Spa and Monza. Where the latter achieved the maximum in their favourite races, the red team did not enjoy the same fruits.

    Vettel’s shenanigans in Singapore have been well documented, with the German binning a guaranteed win from pole position at the first corner. This allowed a free hit for Hamilton, who pulled off an unlikely win at the circuit labelled as their weakest.

    Malaysia saw Ferrari’s famous finger troubles once again at the fore, with an engine air intake system failure being the cause of hardship for both Vettel and his teammate Kimi Räikkönen, who had qualified on the front-row.

    Not able to qualify, Vettel was forced to start from the rear of the grid and most suitably was equipped with new components on his power-unit – for which he won’t have to take penalties in upcoming races.

    A valiant drive at least saw the four-time world champion race to fourth, with a final stint on the supersoft tyres getting Vettel close, but not close enough to the podium.

    “It’s also a fact that we’ve got some issues with our power units because we have a young team, but also because the quality of the components is not at the right level for a race car,” added Marchionne, highlighting quality problems due to having a “young team”.

    It’s no surprise that Marchionne has immediately portioned the blame, as this is Ferrari’s culture. As many times as they’ll change personnel or overhaul the team, the fundamentals stay the same.

    Contrast that to Mercedes AMG, who’ve been proactive in their approach all season long despite the challenge from Vettel.

    On the days that the W08 EQ Power+ isn’t the best car on track, it’ll still maximise its opportunities – as seen by Hamilton’s win in Singapore and the podium in Malaysia, behind the Red Bull.

    Despite enduring what he describes as a “form slump”, Valtteri Bottas has dragged the Silver Arrows to some unlikely results such as his maiden win in Russia over the Ferrari.

    This is all a testament to the 118-point lead that Mercedes AMG possesses over Ferrari in the constructor’s championship, which might as well already be in the freight back to Brackley.

    After years of building, following the takeover of Brawn GP by Mercedes-Benz, the team continue to enjoy success even with an overhaul in the regulations, which was supposed to neuter them.

    It demonstrates how success isn’t born overnight, but built over time and that is something that Ferrari fail to realise. Sure, they continue to be starved of that elusive championship which was last won a decade ago, but it won’t be attained hastily, despite the optimism that this could be the year.

    So, while Mercedes AMG have proved the past two races that even on their worst days, they can scrounge a better result together than Ferrari, there are still five races left in 2017 for Vettel and the Scuderia to strike back – or concede another title through their own inconsistencies.