Mercedes is just fine, thank you

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As much as one race in Australia didn’t spell doom for me as a Formula 1 fan leaving me miffed at facing another year of domination by Mercedes, so too the Malaysian Grand Prix didn’t leave me with a sense of dire circumstances for Mercedes.

If I had to place bets on either scenario, I’ll lean toward the Mercedes domination rather than the Mercedes unraveling. Yet, if you read some news reports today, you may be surprised at the allegations about Mercedes collapsing under the first real pressure they’ve had in six to eight months.

Sunday’s race may have witnessed a Ferrari victory and it did comprise of a frustrated Lewis Hamilton and button-fumbling Paddy Lowe as well as a strategy that didn’t pan out in the heat but while some dissect Mercedes as crumbling under pressure, I’m not quite convinced.

Ferrari were terrific all weekend and you could see that on Friday onward. Their tire sympathy was very good in high-heat environments and their cooling was equaling on par. They were contextually competitive and no one is doubting they didn’t make advances in the winter but have they leap-frogged Mercedes? I am inclined to say no, not yet.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says it was a wake up call for the team and that they los ton pace, not strategy. Lewis Hamilton says he trusts the team’s strategy although questioning it in post-race interviews. Nikki Lauda says Ferrari deserved the win and were simply better in those conditions.

The one person who sounded befuddled out of the weekend was Nico Rosberg. He seemed slightly lost during the race and even after questioning what was going on and how he lost so much time.

Lewis was confused as to why he had no medium compounds for his final stint and Paddy’s fat-fingered radio call confused him, as it naturally would anyone, but he knew what he was looking at. Nico seemed stumped.

Mercedes is a great team and while Ferrari’s pace may have caught them off guard—it shouldn’t have because you could see if coming on Friday—it is not the sign of Ferrari having leapt past Mercedes in the performance category. I suspect China will be a return to Mercedes form as long as Nico knows where he is and how to race.

Mercedes is fine but the Ferrari win was more of a boost for F1 than a warning to Mercedes I suspect.

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Dapperstu

I’m beginning to wonder if Nico was the one that crashed the McLaren instead of Fernando. He’s the one that hasn’t been himself after the accident. His pace is off, he doesn’t seem to understand the driver coaching rules, and he has that distant look about him whenever he talks. Maybe he needs another look from the FIA medical staff to gain clearance before China. :)

Samouri

Nico’s performance so far this season shows clearly why Mercedes really need Lewis, especially with Vettel lurking about.

Tom Firth

Agreed, Ferrari hasn’t leapfrogged Mercedes. My thoughts are that Williams have infact been leapfrogged, but that doesn’t make for as fun a storyline now does it.

From my perspective, Ferrari has taken the place of Red Bull as in it can capitalise, on the right day, with the right conditions and a perfect race against Mercedes.

Tom Firth

That said, It is close between Ferrari and Williams. The problem at Williams I don’t feel is the cars pace, its just Williams seems to miss the mark far too often with strategy, either being too conservative or getting it altogether wrong. Ferrari is much stronger in that area, and Red Bull was last year too. It’s costly for Williams, because i think we could see a strong battle between Ferrari and Williams for second.

Jeff

It does seem odd, Williams continuing it’s tactical errors. I’d expect Symonds to have excised these by now, but from pit stop snafus 2013 to the very conservative strategy calls last year to misreading track conditions, Williams has missed out on many points.

Re: Car performance. I’d thought Williams just had the measure of Ferrari pre-Melbourne, and indeed that still may be the case, but Sepang should have highlighted a vey efficient, low drag/downforce package. A Bahrain point and shoot style track should suit Williams, but I’m curious whether Ferrari will have its measure in Shanghai.

MichaelB

While it’s still probable that Mercedes is going to have a strong season – this weekend should be a wake up call to everyone that the season isn’t done yet, and there are stories still to be told this year… Ferrari looked good all weekend, it was shaping up to be a much closer race than Melbourne no matter what – their pace was dead on with Mercedes through the first two sectors. Add in to that Ferrari being able to make this a two stopper instead of the three that everybody else was expecting and had to do –… Read more »

runnah

I think it was Descartes who said “One race does not a season make!”.

Jeff

I agree completely; Ferrari’s shown impressive long run place since the 2nd test, it’s drivability out of corners has impoved dramatically, and the team’s concentrated upon tire wear since the Pirelli change. The new aero philosophy seems to be paying dividends. Despite this, Merc’s still faster by a large margin, condition-dependent. It’s low direction change seems better, and it appears to promote more aggressive bite in the high speed stuff without the backend letting go. I believe on a higher fuel consumption and downforce track, Mercedes will still be streets ahead. Nevertheless, well-done Ferrari; the Scuderia’s done a fantastic job,… Read more »

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