Mercedes show last-minute pace just .003s off Ferrari

If you’d have asked most F1 pundits about last week’s test and even the majority of this week’s test, they would tell you that Ferrari were looking the strongest. Even Lewis Hamilton suggested that the Scuderia could be as much as .5s ahead of his Mercedes.

That all seemed to ring true until the waning moments on the last day of 2019 winter testing. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton threw down a 1m16.224s lap and the gap between his arch rival, Sebastian Vettel, in the Ferrari was just 0.003s.

While most felt that Ferrari were quickest on long and short runs, Mercedes may have just recast that notion and left pundits wondering if the two teams were on equal footing leaving winter testing.

It could be but the reality is neither team know if the other has/is sandbagging and exactly what fuel levels they were running. Also, the reliability and total mileage ran is still a major factor as to how both teams are positioned for the season.

Regardless, Mercedes sent a message and while we can’t know definitively, it would suggest that the old Mercedes sandbag trick is in rude health. The big questions is, is Ferrari’s?

Friday testing times:

1Sebastian VettelFerrari1m16.221s110
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1m16.224s0.003s61
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1m16.561s0.340s71
4Nico HulkenbergRenault1m16.843s0.622s51
5Daniil KvyatToro Rosso/Honda1m16.898s0.677s131
6Carlos SainzMcLaren/Renault1m16.913s0.692s134
7Romain GrosjeanHaas/Ferrari1m17.076s0.855s73
8Daniel RicciardoRenault1m17.114s0.893s52
9Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo/Ferrari1m17.239s1.018s132
10Kevin MagnussenHaas/Ferrari1m17.565s1.344s94
11Max VerstappenRed Bull/Honda1m17.709s1.488s29
12Sergio PerezRacing Point/Mercedes1m17.791s1.570s104
13Robert KubicaWilliams/Mercedes1m18.993s2.772s90
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So, as it stands right now, my new pecking order opinion is…

1. Mercedes
2. Ferrari
3. Red Bull
4. Alfa Romeo
5. McLaren
6. Toro Rosso
7. Renault
8. Haas
9. Racing Point
10. Williams

Let’s see how this works out.


This is my prediction

1. Ferrari
2. Mercedes
3. Renault
4. McLaren
5. Red Bull
6. Haas
7. Alfa Romeo
8. Racing Point
9. Toro Rosso

I think Renault have been very cagey with their engine power, Carlos and Lando have done some great sector times.

I don’t think Honda have the reliability yet.


I formulated it differently in a Twitter post to NC, but I am generally on your wavelength. I do not have enough confidence to figure things ordinally in the midfield positions 4 thru 7. And that is exactly why I am more enthused about 2019 being a better show for race fans than maybe the previous five years.


Things that I’d like to happen in 2019

Bobby K makes a storming drive through the field to 5th or 6th.
Kimi overtakes Seb through Eau Rouge.
Daniel R. on pole at Monaco.
Dietrich Mateschitz sacks Helmut Marco
Nikki returns happy and heathy

Things that will probably happen in 2019

The radio call ‘ERR, Checko, Lance is faster than you, repeat Lance is faster than you’.
Marko will demote Gasly before the end of the season.
More unforced errors from Seb.
Even more Max temper tantrums.
Lewis Hamilton wins the championship.