•Ferrari have fallen well short of expectations
•The only reason Mercedes cannot claim a perfect start is the introduction this season of a point for the fastest race lap, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc quickest in Bahrain and Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly in Shanghai.
The first three races of the Formula One season have made a mockery of pre-season predictions that Ferrari would set the pace and leave Mercedes struggling to keep up.
The standings may not tell the full story, and luck has played a part, but on paper, Mercedes are more dominant than ever while Ferrari have fallen well short of expectations. “We’ve soon got to stop talking about Ferrari this, Ferrari that, Ferrari amazing power... because they are not delivering,” said former grand prix driver and Sky Sports commentator Martin Brundle.
Mercedes, the team that have won every championship for the past five years, completed a hat-trick of successive one-two finishes at Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix. The only reason Mercedes cannot claim a perfect start is the introduction this season of a point for the fastest race lap, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc quickest in Bahrain and Red Bull’s Pierre Gasly in Shanghai.
Otherwise, they have done something that escaped even Ferrari during the golden era when they won six successive constructors’ titles and Michael Schumacher five championships in a row between 2000-04.
The last team to start a season with three successive one-twos was Williams, with Nigel Mansell and Riccardo Patrese, in 1992. And yet five times champion Lewis Hamilton, team mate Valtteri Bottas and principal Toto Wolff were still talking about luck, small margins and tough battles ahead after winning Formula One’s 1,000th world championship race.
“Considering it was a real struggle this weekend, I’m really grateful for the result, said Hamilton, Sunday’s winner. The Briton was right to point out it would have been a different story if Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari had not lost power while leading in Bahrain but ‘could have, would have, should have’ never won anything.
“I’m just not sure they’ve really hooked up a proper solid weekend just yet,” said Hamilton, now back in the overall championship lead. “It was looking like it was going to be a solid weekend for them in Bahrain and then it started to tail off. This weekend, they were a bit up and down.
“I think we’re over-delivering a little bit at the moment to our true potential but there’s still more to come,” he added.