M or more Formula 1 fans can hardly ask for. Maybe another outsider victory. But Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull have long outgrown the rest of the field. You can see it in the example of McLaren. The English lagged behind not only because of the Honda engine. With the same engine, the time deficit to Red Bull is considerable. Because the MCL33 also has mechanical and aerodynamic deficiencies. Sergio Perez was the only driver who was not in the W09, SF71H or RB14 to make it onto the podium. After all, the big three share the victories fairly among themselves. Ferrari has triumphed twice, Mercedes twice, Red Bull twice.
Ferrari has the most coherent package
Sebastian Vettel twice, Lewis Hamilton twice, Daniel Ricciardo twice. These three position themselves at the very front in the world championship. Hamilton is the most constant. The defending champion has scored six times in six races. He never finished worse than fourth. In five out of six cases he celebrated on the podium. Vettel, however, missed a podium in China, Azerbaijan and Spain. Once there were only four points in eighth place. Because Max Verstappen torpedoed him in Shanghai.
Ferrari has seen the best car in the field over the first quarter of the season. Or let's put it better like this: Ferrari has the most coherent overall package. The SF71H harmonizes with the tires and does not resist any rubber type. Warming up the tires is not an issue. Three pole positions in Bahrain, China and Azerbaijan speak for the qualities of the red racing cars on a fast lap.
Vettel never did worse in qualifying than in third place. The SF71H does not overuse the tires. Above-average tire degradation was only a big issue in Spain. Vettel had to change tires twice. Ferrari got bogged down with the setup and did not optimally match the red racer to the special Pirellis with a four millimeter thinner tread.
“Ferrari has the most powerful package. They were quick everywhere. Sometimes they let up and we struck, ”summarizes Hamilton. Mercedes itself instilled fear during the test drives and humanized again in the first six races. Only two performances were reminiscent of the old dominance. Hamilton's pole lap in Australia with a lead of 0.664 seconds over Kimi Raikkonen demoralized the competition. “They're all kidding,” it said on the camp ofRed Bull.
It was only in the days and weeks that followed that it became clear that the world champion had actually succeeded in a magic round with optimal tire temperatures, as described by Mercedes. A day later, the virtual safety car and a calculation error robbed the victory, which was believed to be certain. As a result, Ferrari's takeover of power and a small phase of weakness began for the Silver, who struggled with a tire window that was too small.
Mercedes not made for angular corners
Mercedes only broke through Ferrari's pole series in Spain . The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya fit the Silver Arrows like a key in the keyhole. There was enough data to get the tires working from the first lap. You didn't have to rebuild or experiment until the setup was right. In addition, a track layout with medium-fast and fast corners and a long straight, which favored the aerodynamic concept of the W09.
Two weeks later, Mercedes fell back again. It was expected before the Monaco GP and was feared by the team leaders. “We were a lot better than 2017. The team learned the lessons and improved the car on this type of track,” says Hamilton. 'But the others have more grip on tracks like this.'
Foreign Minister Niki Lauda said after qualifying: 'Red Bull is unbeatable, Ferrari is a bit better. Grip from the tires and downforce: We have two tenths too little of both. We found a good balance. Still it doesn't help. ”Hamilton was briefly annoyed about missing second place. Until the engineers made it clear to him that it was the maximum possible.
'If I hadn't been fastest in the first sector, I wouldn't have been angry at all. But I was 0.27 seconds below my personal best. Had I been able to keep that up, I would have beaten Sebastian in qualifying. ”Hamilton only improved by 29 thousandths compared to the first shot.
The Silver guys also lacked speed in the race trim. And the tires, especially the hypersofts, were run harder than the competition. Although everyone was strolling. In general, one gets the impression: the softer the mixture, the more Mercedes has to fight. “The hypersofts were our weak point this weekend,” explained Valtteri Bottas.
Cooler temperatures in the race helped the rear tires but increased the grain of the front tires more. After all, from a Mercedes point of view, the damage was limited and it did better than last year. “I only lost three points to Sebastian. Of course I want to win in Monaco every year. But I want to win the world championship a lot more, ”said Hamilton.
Monaco is the perfect place for Red Bull
As in previous years, the Mercedes are bulletproof when it comes to the reliability of the cars . Ferrari still has small deficits in a direct comparison. Raikkonen is already on the second engine, the turbosecond MGU-H and control unit. Bottas with the second battery and control unit. Hamilton and Vettel have a clean slate.
Red Bull is struggling more than that. After all, Ricciardo should avoid a starting place penalty in Canada. At the latest, the Monaco victory lifts the subscription world champion from 2010 to 2013 into the role of co-favorite. “We have always had it on the bill,” says Toto Wolff. “I think there will be a three-way battle for the World Cup between Ferrari, Red Bull and us,” believes his star driver.
Red Bull is a force on slow circuits like Monaco. “You should have won here for the last three or four years,” says Wolff. “It's no secret that Red Bull has the most downforce. They don't have the most efficient car for that, ”states Sebastian Vettel. This is partly due to the strong employment. 'Even with the extreme loss of power, our chassis still worked very well,' reports Ricciardo.
Red Bull is lacking in power. The team leadership never misses an opportunity to pass defeats on the Renault V6. And people smugly talk about the competition's party mode when you're back in line in qualifying. Before the Monaco weekend, the best place on the grid was fourth. The power deficit of 15 to 30 hp, depending on which side you ask, is not the only evil in qualification. Here are the delays in qualifying from the first five Grand Prix: 0.715 /0.452 /0.701 /0.413 /0.643 seconds. In each case counted from the pole time to the faster of the two Red Bulls.
The details decide
The RB14 handles the tires with care. That helps on race Sunday, but weakens for one lap. The hypersoft tire came in handy in Monaco. Both Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were able to set it on fire immediately. In Montreal, Pirelli will once again deliver the three softest tire compounds. Ricciardo exults: “Our tire wear was better in Monaco. If we keep that for Montreal, the soft mixes could play our part again. ”
In Canada, power is in demand. Red Bull has high hopes for the Renault engine update. And in the route characteristics. The RB14 is strong in traction and on the brakes. Ricciardo hopes: “We have to prove that we can win on another type of track before the summer break. Then we might have outsider chances in the World Cup. ”Two failures in six races hurt. “Lewis still has quite a buffer on us. That's why I'm not thinking about the World Cup at the moment. It's not impossible. ”
Ricciardo's deficit is 38 points. Hamilton attests: “Red Bull is getting stronger and stronger. With the engine update, they could become a major threat. ”On the other hand, every means is being tried to weaken and outmaneuver the enemy. The FIA receives tips on who can cheat and where and who might go too far. A very delicate oneTopic: Ferrari and energy management.
Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull: There are no longer the big differences. Details decide between victory and defeat. Details such as the type of track, required downforce level, track surface, tires and temperatures. And from the driver's point of view, strong nerves and inner peace. With his impatience, Verstappen has practically taken himself out of the world championship race. 'You never really know what the performance will be like until Sunday,' says Vettel. The neutral fan is happy.