Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Ferrari’s Spanish moment of truth

BARCELONA: This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix may be just the fifth round of the 2019 Formula One season, but already Ferrari’s championship hopes have reached the last-chance saloon.

By Michael Lamonato

Friday 10 May 2019, 03:56PM

Sebastian Vettel takes part in tests at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo in the outskirts of Barcelona on Feb 26. Photo: Lluis Gene

Sebastian Vettel takes part in tests at the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo in the outskirts of Barcelona on Feb 26. Photo: Lluis Gene

The Italian team’s preseason expectations of title contention have been blown out of the water by an unprecedented display of Mercedes dominance. Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton have led the German team to four one-two finishes to open the year, setting the record for the best start to an F1 season in history.

The points standings are revealing. Mercedes holds a 74-point lead over Ferrari, just 10 shy of its 2018 championship-winning margin, while Bottas leads Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc by 35 and 40 points respectively on the drivers table.

With 17 of 21 rounds remaining, Ferrari has time aplenty to fight back, but the question is whether it can.

Such doubt is a far cry from the preseason optimism emanating from the Scuderia. Winter testing is notoriously difficult to read, but paddock consensus confidently picked Ferrari as the standout performer while Mercedes appeared to struggle under new regulations.

Making the season’s results tally with those expectations has been difficult for pundits and Ferrari alike. Mercedes dominated in Australia and had a small but decisive edge in China and Azerbaijan. Only in Bahrain did Ferrari show race-winning pace before engine problems cruelled Charles Leclerc’s charge.

Four races in the season, no win for Ferrari, four wins for Mercedes – no doubt they are very strong, certainly they’ve got a slightly better car,” Ferrari principal Mattia Binotto conceded after defeat in Baku. “But I think that the gap is not so big and the points of the results are not reflecting the true potential of the cars.”

The matter of true potential has exercised minds so far this season, but the question will be put to rest at the Spanish Grand Prix on May 12, the first race of the European leg of the season.

The Spanish race is run on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the same circuit used for preseason testing. Drivers and engineers know each of the 16 turns inside out, which means there’s nowhere to hide for a team performing badly.

If Ferrari turns up in Barcelona this weekend and is unable to replicate the sort of performance it demonstrated during preseason testing on the same track, serious questions will be asked about the legitimacy of its championship campaign.

I’m pretty sure [Mercedes] will be very strong as well in Barcelona,” Binotto said. “But more important I think is being focused on ourselves.

We’ve got the potential for pole, and if you’ve got a car fast enough to score potentially the pole, you’ve got a good car overall.

We need to look at our weaknesses and try to address them.”

Addressing his team’s shortcomings – operational as well as mechanical, for even in execution the team has been found lacking – may go some way to closing the gap, but Binotto must also be worried that Spain will serve only to validate that Mercedes has made substantial steps since March.

The German marque has been confidently building upon the B-spec aero package it brought late to preseason testing, enough to keep ahead of Ferrari even when the Italians fast-tracked a first major update to Baku. The reigning constructors champion has a ferocious history of development, and the concern for the Scuderia must be that its own slow progress understanding its machine has allowed its rival a costly head start.

To all these questions Spain will finally reveal some hard answers, and it’s no exaggeration to say the title could be at stake.



Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here


Phuket community
Phuket Police say investigation into Finnish girl’s death inconclusive

Whether she was a 'girl' or a woman' is immaterial, the fact that she has died is the cr...(Read More)

PPRP ‘seals deal’ to form coalition govt

So, 'translating' what the military sources are saying is that a few civilian parties are al...(Read More)

PHUKET XTRA: VIDEO: Road rage axe attack? Drugs found in rectum! Dark web bust sees 50 kids saved! || May 23

Did the police contact the Phuket based foreign Inspector .... for his expertise on how to extract t...(Read More)

May 4 approved as Coronation Day

...How many people he thinks do really benefit from those holidays ?Most Thai's are working anyw...(Read More)

Phuket braces for heavy weather, small boats advised to stay ashore

All chinese passengers, brace for heavy sea inpact before boarding coming days! You are warned! Rem...(Read More)

Phuket braces for heavy weather, small boats advised to stay ashore

Well, mr Wiwat, just covered himself (' I told you, not my responsible any further'). When...(Read More)

Four dead as pickup truck slams into tour bus heading to Phuket

Haha...driver to check if had taken drugs/alcohol. How silly is that? Riding on the back of the tru...(Read More)

One billion baht found in teenage drug dealer’s accounts

Wow, a 19 years old thai man, in drugs business with more than 1 million thb in his personal account...(Read More)

Government clamps down on surging illegal Thai migration

And, day in, day out, many thai having been illegal staying/working in Korea of course return to Tha...(Read More)

Men arrested for axe-wielding road-rage attack on ambulance

These two morons are seriously primitive in their mental capacity and cerebral development. No way ...(Read More)