What now between Ferrari and Mercedes?

By H. Mayor – photo: f1.com

The F1 season continues with Austria only a few days away on the calendar and the incident in Baku still very much in the air. After the rift between Vettel and Hamilton and Vettel’s subsequent sanction, Mercedes declared a sort of open war between the two scuderias. Now the German driver has publicly apologised to the FIA  but controversy is still simmering. It appears that the chain of events of the last few days marks the start of a new and decisive phase in the open fight for the title between Ferrari and Mercedes. What should we expect now?

Beyond the unpleasant conflict on the track in Azerbaijan, Mercedes has proved that it is able to evolve and rise to the competitive level of its challenging rival, Ferrari, who dominated the competition at the start of the season. Canada and Baku were two key tests where important improvements could be made and the German factory passed them with flying colours. Bottas’ growth is evident and Hamilton managed to bag the first win and clearly dominated the second race up until the incident with Vettel.

Ferrari on the other hand has lost a bit of its puff over the last few races where it didn’t manage to touch the podium. Both of their divergent trajectories seems to reinforce the idea that the intentional clash of Vettel against Hamilton had an element of bottled up frustration. Mercedes is visibly optimistic about its own development so far in the competition despite the losing of two points towards the leadership of the last race.


Mercedes brought out a new chassis in Spain which showed a notably improved performance in Baku and has also made advances in their tyre management, smoothing out their vehicles’ rough edges overall. Their competitiveness has had a boost as a result and there are further aerodynamic improvements planned for Austria.

Ferrari on the other hand, who dominated the beginning of the season, is now resenting FIA’s new prohibition of burning oil for a pace boost, something the Maranello scuderia did regularly. They need to improve their single seaters’ performance now, and this is no easy task considering the exceptional effort they did last winter to bring their machines to the level of the favourites.  Immediately behind the two leading rivals is Red Bull who is also growing at a great pace.

The drivers will obviously play their role in the outcome but everyone agrees on one basic thing: the key to the title lies on having the top vehicle. It remains to be seen how Vettel and Hamilton play their respective parts and behave on the track in this new and strange post-Baku climate. A lot will be revealed in the European tour starting next weekend in Austria.

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