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Vettel loses ground: Mercedes trembles at Spa and Monza

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Vettel loses ground
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D his world championship is unpredictable. Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel reach the top spot back and forth. The World Cup leadership has changed five times. Hamilton has had them since the German GP. And increased his lead at the Hungarian GP by seven points to 24 points.

Both Hamilton and Vettel recorded one retirement in the 12 races. A broken gasoline pump prevented the Englishman from winning in Austria. Vettel threw away 25 points in Hockenheim due to a driving error. The zero round still hurts. “The pendulum swings back and forth. Consistency is the key in this world championship. I didn't do myself a favor at Hockenheim, but I can't change it. ”

Ferrari should have stopped earlier

Hungary was also a race that Ferrari and Vettel would actually have won have to. The Reds stumbled upon the rain in qualifying. From fourth place on the grid, the damage could no longer be repaired. Again the greatest adversary won. “I could have followed Lewis but got stuck. Second is not the result we were hoping for before the weekend. But it was the maximum we could achieve in the race given our starting position. ”Ferrari had the fastest car in Budapest. Faster than Red Bull. Faster than Mercedes. But even the fastest car is of no use on a track where overtaking another top car is practically impossible.

Ferrari tried tactics. Vettel's car was fitted with the harder soft tires for the first stint. Kimi Räikkönen got Valtteri Bottas out of the way with an early pit stop. After 15 laps, Hamilton was already 8.6 seconds ahead. In the following 20 laps, everything indicated that Vettel would be able to overtake Bottas over the long first stint. But then he got stuck in traffic, Bottas turned up the speed, Ferrari screwed up the tire exchange and Vettel looked the Mercedes with the starting number 77 back into the exhaust pipe.

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Long time no passing: Vettel is stuck behind Bottas.

In retrospect you are always smarter: Ferrari would have better called in its star driver before Vettel worked his way past Carlos Sainz, Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez had to. The ultra-soft tires would have survived a longer stint. However, this could not be foreseen based on the training data from Friday. “They held up better than expected. When I passed Valtteri, they still felt like new tires. ”

The overtaking maneuver came too late to be dangerous to Hamilton in any way. Vettel believes that more than second place would not have jumped out either way. “We could have caught up with Lewis, but not overtaken, if we had been in front of Bottas right after the stop.”

The Finn Vettel almost knocked out of the race. Bottas rushed into the rear of the Ferrari. “I braked so that I can keep the inside line and not get too deep into the curve. Suddenly I was hit from behind and didn't quite know what had happened. Then I looked in the rear-view mirror, saw Valtteri and Kimi, and knew what was going on. I was lucky that nothing broke and none of the tires broke. ”For Mercedes, the two races won before the summer break could still be worth gold. Ferrari could mourn the missed opportunities at the end of the season.

Ferrari engine still under 1,000 hp

Everyone agrees that Ferrari currently has the best overall package. The chassis is on par with that of Mercedes. And when it comes to the engine, Ferrari has overtaken its silver rival. The Mercedes engineers also recorded significant losses in Hungary despite the relatively short straights. Ferrari dismantled Mercedes on the home straight and between turns one and two and three and four. You could see it in the sector times. Ferrari was a force in the first section.

Mercedes is still wondering how Ferrari could make such a big leap in performance in such a short time. “We mustn't get stuck on questioning what they're doing now. We should ask ourselves what we can do better to improve ourselves. How we can accelerate our development program, ”demands Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

In Hungary, too, the spies heard a strange noise that the Ferrari V6 was making when accelerating out. Incidentally, according to measurements, Ferrari has not yet exceeded the 1,000 hp mark. Nevertheless: at Mercedes people smoke. And despite the two defeats, Vettel is optimistic about the remaining nine races. “Our car is stronger and more efficient than in 2017.There is still a lot of potential to be unleashed. We have good developments in the pipeline. ”

The next three routes do not bode well for Mercedes. In Belgium and Italy, engine power counts. Therefore, the defending champion fears falling further behind on the power tracks. And then with Singapore follows a winding route with several 90-degree bends. A route that has given Mercedes a headache in the past. The advantage of 24 points in the drivers 'championship and 10 points in the constructors' championship can quickly be gone.

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