Since the August break, Ferrari has had a clear one-lap pace advantage. Charles Leclerc's fourth consecutive pole position in Russia again showed he has that extra commitment to wringing the car's neck on new tyres.
As we all know, Lewis Hamilton is no slouch on a qualifying lap and if he's beaten it's either because someone else has done a hugely impressive lap, or is driving a chassis/engine combination that's simply better. This is what we've seen of late.
In the races Mercedes and Ferrari are much of a muchness, with the silver cars often having the edge in terms of tyre degradation, and there will be reasons for that.