It’s early days in 2019’s Formula 1 season. Yes, Mercedes pummeled the field in Australia and apart from that circuit being a unique road course, effectively, there were other factors involved as well. First races can always be a bit of a crap shoot but you can’t ignore the pace of Valtteri Bottas, it was stunning and most likely representative of what Lewis will have as well without floor damage on his car.
The fact is, Ferrari said they lacked grip and Sebastian Vettel wasn’t confident in the car during the weekend. Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto says they aren’t sure what they missed in Australia. Mercedes boss toto Wolff says he just thinks Ferrari missed the setup in Australia.
That may be. Perhaps Ferrari just went in the wrong direction with setup but to do so with both cars seems odd. Platitudes aside, I think Ferrari have a lot of work to do because they couldn’t find the right balance in Melbourne and they lacked grip the entire weekend.
In testing, with cooler temperatures, perhaps the tires worked better on their chassis? Maybe warmer weather and the tires will be an element they fight all year long. Difficult to know at this point but what I fear equally as much as the Mercedes performance in Australia is the team’s ability to develop during the season. Mercedes is a juggernaut when it comes to developing.
It was my main concern heading into this season as to if Ferrari, who were rumored to have the edge heading into Australia, could keep up with development over the season. Now I am worried that Ferrari not only has to keep up but they have to work just to get to where Mercedes is and then keep up for the balance of the season. That’s twice as hard.
Can Ferrari catch up and then keep up? That’s a tall order for the folks in Maranello.