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Mercedes must fear Ferrari: Ferrari victory is not a flash in the pan

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Mercedes must fear Ferrari
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F errari defeated Mercedes in an honest duel at the GP Malaysia. The strategy experts of both teams agree: Sebastian Vettel would have won even if there had been no SafetyCar phase. Then only the distance would have been smaller. Two to three seconds after the simulations.

Mercedes lacked the speed in the race

Even a split of the strategies would probably not have brought the Silver Arrows the victory. In retrospect, Mercedes would have left Lewis Hamilton on the track so as not to give Vettel the top position. But then he would have had to stop on lap 11 and would have fallen into the traffic even worse than after his early stop on lap 4. That would have given Rosberg a total of eight seconds. Still not enough to beat Vettel.

The problem for Hamilton and Rosberg in the race was the heavy tire wear, which put pressure on the lap times. Mercedes definitely had to change tires three times. Ferrari came over the distance with two stops. The soft tire only collapsed after 19 laps. At Mercedes it was over after eleven laps. Therefore, the tactics of the silver in the race focused more on the hard tires.

The foundation stone for the defeat was laid on Friday. Hamilton and Rosberg could only run a very limited program due to problems with the engine and telemetry. With six rounds, the long runs were pretty poor and therefore not particularly meaningful. The receipt for this was a badly balanced car in the race. 'If we had done the setup better, it might have been enough on Sunday,' said an engineer.

It will be back in Bahrain close for Mercedes

According to experts in Malaysia, Ferrari benefited from the heat. It helped but was not the only secret of success. Mercedes now know that the Reds will remain dangerous opponents throughout the season Because the two cars are so different. On paper, the Chinese GP is a clear Mercedes track, but not relevant as a statement for the rest of the season. Already in Bahrain things could be tight again for silver.

And not just because of the high temperatures. A Meredes man predicts: 'Ferrari will be strong on all tracks that place heavy demands on the rear tire. That applies to Bahrain, but also toBarcelona. We expect them to be extremely strong on tracks that require less downforce, such as Spa or the A1 ring. '

That begs the question, why Ferrari didn't show its strengths in Melbourne.' They have ' , replies our expert, 'but only in the race. They burned their soft tires too quickly in qualifying and therefore did not put both cars on the second row of the grid. As a result, Vettel was stuck behind a Williams. That killed his race. With his second stint, Raikkonen indicated that Ferrari was as fast as Mercedes in Melbourne too. '

The DNA of the cars cannot be changed

For Ferrari it is therefore very important to put both cars on the second row of the grid in the future. Vettel and Räikkönen have no chance on the first if everything goes normally at Mercedes. The AMG W06 is the fastest car on one lap. Regardless of the type of track.

In the race, the pendulum swings depending on the load on the rear tires. Ferrari doesn't even need heat to get Mercedes into trouble. You only need one good training and no car between you and your opponent. For Mercedes, on the other hand, the Friday training sessions will be the key. If the engineers can collect enough information, the tire problem cannot be solved, but it can be reduced. For this, the vehicle balance, the R Your choice of tires and the right strategy.

Constructively, the two teams have little chance of changing the character of their cars. 'A car's DNA is retained,' says Ferrari chief technology officer James Allison. A colleague from Mercedes adds: 'If we were to try to convert the car so that it suddenly feels nice to the tires, we would lose more.' Ferrari and Mercedes can only work on making the weak points less significant. And that might make this season a hit.

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