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Mercedes bites back: Too cold and too windy for Ferrari

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Mercedes bites back
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H if the Bahrain GP had taken place on Friday, Ferrari would have landed a double victory . Two days later it became places 2 and 5. Even a risk strategy did not bring Kimi Raikkonen within striking distance of winner Lewis Hamilton. Because Ferrari was too slow on Sunday. Mercedes drew the right conclusions from the crashed racing simulation on Friday and perfectly tuned the cars for the race.

And then the temperatures and the wind also helped. They also played into the cards for the vote of the Silver Arrows. What happened on friday? After deducting the fuel difference and the power deficit, with which Mercedes is basically on the road on Friday, Ferrari set lap times that were 3 tenths faster on average. During the analysis, Mercedes found out: The tire temperature was below the working window. Not much, but enough to lose on Ferrari.

Mercedes engineers reacted correctly

The fear of the tire-friendly Ferrari had made the Mercedes engineers overcautious. Ferrari was perhaps a bit too aggressive. The tires quickly got up to temperature and were OK with asphalt temperatures between 31 and 36. This also explains Sebastian Vettel's strong performance in qualifying. Normally the Ferrari does not place itself between the two Mercedes on a lap.

On race day the Silver Arrows presented themselves as if they had been changed. Your tires degraded less. Lewis Hamilton was able to drive a faster pace than his pursuers in red, and Nico Rosberg would have ended up ahead of Raikkonen if he hadn't had a brake problem from the third lap.

There was a lot of work between Friday and Sunday. The engineers were faced with the task of bringing the tires back into their working window under racing conditions. The first attempt in the third free practice failed. In Q1, however, there were the first indications that the measures were taking effect.

More downforce, more aggressive chassis

Mercedes increased downforce and tuned the chassis more aggressively to put a little more strain on the tires. More camber or more suspension travel would be two options. The top speed loss was accepted. In combination with the changed weather conditions, that was the golden handle.

During the race, the asphalt temperatures fell to 28 to 30 degrees, which is an average of six degrees lower than atthe racing simulations. And the wind picked up. Headwind on the straights turned into crosswind in the critical corners.

Since Melbourne we have known that the Ferrari is more sensitive to wind than the Mercedes. A Mercedes engineer explains why the silver car has an advantage: 'The more downforce, the less the wind affects the car.'

Ferrari had worse cards for the cooler weather. Less contact pressure in the rear and too much mechanical stress for the tires. Vettel confirmed: 'In the race, the rear was too nervous.' In the long run that cost too much grip on the rear axle and thus traction.

Ferrari is the new enemy for silver

Conclusion: The duel between Mercedes and Ferrari is about little things. In Malaysia Ferrari did everything right, in Bahrain it was Mercedes. Head of Technology Paddy Lowe expects the duel to continue so intensely: 'We are not afraid of Ferrari, but respect.'

Team Principal Toto Wolff adds: 'In order to beat Ferrari, we cannot afford to make any mistakes. ' Niki Lauda agrees: 'Ferrari keeps us awake. This is our new enemy image that drives everyone. Ferrari has bitten us. Now we're biting back.'

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