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End of Mercedes domination: & # 34; The time of double victories is over & # 34;

Pirelli
End of Mercedes domination
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D he realists at Mercedes have it before the fourth Grand Prix ​​of the year known. Ferrari is a serious opponent. Not for one or the other hot race, but for the entire season. And thus also for the world title. The red cars are even traded as favorites on certain racetracks. Always there where the rear tires have to live a long time.

The Sakhir circuit is such a track. Ferrari doesn't even need heat to scare Mercedes. The asphalt stays cool at night. Sebastian Vettel sent his warning shot with his second starting place during training. And that is usually Mercedes' domain. Don't let Lewis Hamilton's lead of 0.411 seconds fool you. Ferrari showed in the racing simulations on Friday that the balance of power in the race could shift towards red.

Ferrari develops better

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff is no longer under any illusions. 'Last year we had a comforting cushion on our opponents. That is gone now. Ferrari is in our league. The time of easy one-two victories is over.' That was not to be expected after the winter tests and the season opener in Australia. 'There was a small indication in Melbourne. We could see that Vettel would have been much closer to us without Massa in front of us. Nevertheless, the Ferrari win in Malaysia was a surprise for us. The training result here in Bahrain no longer.'

Wolff attributes this to an aggressive development program in the opposing camp. 'Your pace of development is really impressive. This is a real challenge for us.' Nico Rosberg was also amazed: 'Man oh man. It's unbelievable what steps they take. We really have to be careful now.' Only Foreign Minister Niki Lauda plays the optimist: 'Ferrari is strong, of course. But we are stronger here. I am convinced that we have learned from our mistakes on Friday and will have a fast car on Sunday.'

Track layout helps Ferrari

On closer inspection, Ferrari hasn't changed that much on its SF15-T so far. Mercedes has brought more new parts to its car since the beginning of the test winter. The new quality at Ferrari is that the engineers no longer shoot the target with a shotgun, but develop the car in micro-steps.

The greatest progress comes from the betterUnderstanding the car and the tuning. Because you no longer blindly bring upgrades. In Bahrain there is also the fact that the route suits the Ferrari. The car is quick on the straight and easy on the brakes.

The tire-friendly vehicle concept gives Ferrari a trump card in the race, which can also be played from the second row of the grid. But now, like in Malaysia, Vettel is right at the front next to Hamilton. Which makes it even more dangerous.

Mercedes is increasingly cornering Ferrari's strength in the race. On Friday the engineers had set the car too much towards tire protection. And tire temperatures immediately fell out of the window. 'It's about the complicated interplay between surface and walking temperature,' explained Wolff.

Mercedes was then forced to rebuild its car for race day. On Saturday, however, it was hardly possible to test whether the changes were successful. In the third training session it was too hot. Q1 is too short to include a long run. Technical director Paddy Lowe still dares to say based on the data: 'The tires are back in their window. The results that we saw in Q1 are encouraging.'

Lewis Hamilton did not want the day before Evening praise: 'It's not about a longer life for the tires, but rather that we can drive faster in the stint. I don't trust myself to make a prediction. In the last two races I was wrong with my forecast.'

Hamilton reminds the duel of 2007 and 2008

Toto Wolff asks the team to take on the new challenge: 'Maybe we were too used to an easy life. We are now facing a new situation . That must not lead to us overreacting and being too cautious. '

The Austrian expects another long strategy meeting on Sunday. 'There are even more racing scenarios than in China. I expect the two Ferraris and the two Mercedes to be close together. Then it will be even more important to make the right decisions with the strategy.'

Hamilton the duel is reminiscent of 2007 and 2008. 'At that time I fought with McLaren against Ferrari. Back then it was also a duel between two very different cars. The Ferrari tended to understeer in 2007, our McLaren was an oversteer car. We were in slow corners fast, Ferrari in fast. '

The then McLaren engineer Paddy Lowe also indulged in the old days:' This constellation led to McLaren and Ferrari to win, with a very tight World Championship final And in the following year, the qualities of the two cars had shifted into the opposite. Because everyone worked on their weaknesses. '

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