E Actually, Mercedes shouldn't have any worries after the start of the season. Two races, two double victories. Mercedes scored 87 points in Australia and Bahrain. The silver arrows just missed the perfect yield by one meter. “On Sunday everything went perfectly for us,” said World Championship leader Valtteri Bottas. 'But we know that it won't stay that way.'
Competitor Ferrari hopes that the change will be initiated in China. In Bahrain, the red racing cars were already faster than the silver ones. Charles Leclerc would have easily won the desert race. If a short circuit in the control of the injection system hadn't gone crazy. The Ferrari V6 therefore only ran on five cylinders in the final phase. The red rocket turned into a snail with around 150 hp less on the straights.
Difficult to catch up with engine deficit
With the engine intact, Ferrari Mercedes pulled away on all straight pieces. One speaks of four tenths of a second that the SF90 won over the lap on the Silver Arrow at full throttle. And this difference worries the engineers as well as the drivers of the world championship team. Ferrari doesn't want to know anything about a superior power in the engine. Team and technology boss Mattia Binotto blames the efficiency of the package. Ferrari drives with smaller wings and less drag. Sebastian Vettel puts it this way: “In Australia we were weak on the straights. Strong for that in Bahrain. One cannot speak of a trend. ”
Mercedes puzzles. There is great fear that Ferrari will gain a significant performance advantage over the winterhas worked out. “If so, it would be damn hard to catch up. When it comes to the engine, you don't really take any big steps under the season, ”says Lewis Hamilton. “You only have a limited number of components for the drive unit. You can't take any great risks, otherwise you'll be fined. And the limited number also reduces the development potential. ”Bottas warns:“ We shouldn't just look at performance. We mustn't neglect our other weak points either. ”Bottas says that the W10 has not yet found the right balance. It shifts too much between slow and fast corners.
After the Bahrain appearance, Ferrari automatically becomes the favorite. Especially since one of the longest straights of the season is waiting for the teams in Shanghai. “But there are also corners here,” says Bottas, and encourages himself and the team. Exactly 16 in number. And Mercedes will probably have to make up for the time that is lost on the long straight between turns 13 and 14. Mercedes has prepared an upgrade for this. “Mechanical and aerodynamic components,” reveals the Finn. Work was done on the front wing, the bargeboards and the front suspension. Hamilton doesn't expect miracles. 'It's small.' The engineers agree.
Different driving styles at Ferrari
In the past, the Shanghai International Circuit meant well with Mercedes. The team has already achieved five victories in China. Including four in a row between 2014 and 2017. Hamilton took five of his 74 victories in Shanghai. “China is a good hunting area for me. Except for the previous year. ”Last year the five-time title holder was only fourth. Behind Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull, team-mate Bottas and Kimi Räikkönen in the Ferrari.
Both Mercedes and Ferrari have the previous year's winner on the bill. 'I expect Red Bull to be a lot stronger than I did in Bahrain,' says Vettel. Red Bull sees his World Cup rival of the last two years as a threat throughout the season. “You won here last year. They developed a lot in 2018 and got behind them. You have a better engine. They are the only ones who can keep up with the development pace of us and Ferrari. ”
For Hamilton and Vettel there is a lot of resistance within the team. Bottas triumphed in Australia, but fell back in Bahrain. 'There are several reasons for that. I drove the laps too slowly after changing tires. I was paying too much attention to the tires. Then they got too cold. I also had the wrong setup for the strong wind. In addition, a plastic bag got caught in my front wing during the last stint. A small thing that increased the general problems. ”In China, the Finn wants to bring out the Bottas from Australia again.
Vettel has to clarify why his Ferrari showed three different faces on three tracks. Wellin the tests in Barcelona, weak in Australia, improved in Bahrain. The test drives after the race gave him a few answers. There remain unanswered questions. “We have approaches and ideas on how we can make the rear more stable. But you cannot reproduce the race in the tests. Different time of day, different weather, different conditions. ”Leclerc can do little to help him. “We have opposing driving styles. Sebastian and I have different requirements for the car. “