Lewis Hamilton: Ferrari's consistent F1 form 'very strange'

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton believes Ferrari's strong Chinese Grand Prix form in completely different conditions to Bahrain is "very strange"

Lewis Hamilton: Ferrari's consistent F1 form 'very strange'

Ferrari beat Mercedes in a straight fight in Bahrain last week, but Mercedes was expected to rediscover its pace advantage in China and Hamilton edged Kimi Raikkonen in Friday practice.

Instead Mercedes slipped back significantly in Shanghai qualifying and was half a second adrift of championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who headed a Ferrari one-two as Hamilton qualified fourth behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Asked how much of a concern Ferrari's consistency is, Hamilton replied: "Right now I'm not really thinking about the Ferraris, I'm trying to understand why we don't have the pace.

"For some reason their car is working everywhere.

"It's very strange. You go to Bahrain where it's very hot and we would expect Ferrari to be strong, but they are even stronger than we expected.

"But in the race, we actually weren't too bad, which wasn't expected.

"Then we come here, with conditions you would expect we would be doing well, but a bit like last year their car works everywhere.

"How long it will last, I don't know."

Mercedes went quickest in Q2 by using the soft tyre, before falling back again in the pole shootout.

Hamilton said that was the only time in qualifying his car felt "normal" and could not explain why there was then such a deficit on the ultrasoft tyre.

He was also confused by the car being "night and day" different after a positive Friday.

"Today was definitely a shock when we got into FP3 and the car was completely different," said Hamilton, who spun in Saturday morning practice.

"I didn't make any changes. Firstly, tomorrow we could regret it, and qualifying could have been different.

"So, we stuck with where we were and it wasn't particularly enjoyable to drive."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff compared the situation to last year, when the team could not get the softest Pirellis to work properly, but explained that instead of overheating the tyres Mercedes is not generating enough temperature in China.

"You can see that Ferrari puts the tyre in the right window [and] from the onboard the car is like on rails," he added.

Wolff said qualifying behind Ferrari gives Mercedes "plenty of possible plays" in the race and thinks Sunday will offer "proof of concept".

If Mercedes still struggles, he admitted the team will need to work out if it has a more fundamental problem.

"If we are in the sweet spot, the car is very fast," said Wolff. "We have seen occasions more than Ferrari where the tyre drops out because it is too hot, or drops out because it is too low.

"Is that inherent to the car? I don't know.

"Maybe it is trickier to get it there, but maybe its peak performance is also superior to our competitors if we get there."

shares
comments
Ricciardo's 'window of optimism reduces' amid Renault F1 failures

Previous article

Ricciardo's 'window of optimism reduces' amid Renault F1 failures

Next article

McLaren fears it set targets too low for its 2018 Formula 1 car

McLaren fears it set targets too low for its 2018 Formula 1 car
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Lewis Hamilton
Teams Ferrari
Author Scott Mitchell
Why Russell was right to be wrong about Bottas after Imola F1 clash Plus

Why Russell was right to be wrong about Bottas after Imola F1 clash

George Russell and Valtteri Bottas' collision at Imola on Sunday prompted fury in the Formula 1 paddock. But Russell's carefully-worded heartfelt statement later, acknowledging that his initial response was wrong, proved the right move

How Verstappen and Hamilton’s Imola clash sets the tone for F1’s 2021 title fight Plus

How Verstappen and Hamilton’s Imola clash sets the tone for F1’s 2021 title fight

In Max Verstappen's Formula 1 career to date, he has been cast as the 'pretender', an acknowledged top-line performer without the car to regularly challenge Lewis Hamilton. But that no longer applies in 2021, and the start to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix was the most telling signal yet of what we can expect from their duel this year

Formula 1
Apr 21, 2021
How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve Plus

How “overwhelming” McLaren move has given Ricciardo a new verve

Daniel Ricciardo has found a new lease of life at McLaren – a move that’s been years in the making, as he explains to STUART CODLING…

Formula 1
Apr 20, 2021
The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari Plus

The German legend who raced and beat Nuvolari

Ninety years ago, Rudolf Caracciola became the first non-Italian to win the epic Mille Miglia. We look at how he stacks up to the most famous pre-war ace Tazio Nuvolari, one of the drivers he beat on that day in 1931

Formula 1
Apr 20, 2021
How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams Plus

How 2021's midfielders have taken lessons from F1's top teams

Formula 1’s latest Imola adventure turned into an expensive trip for many teams due to several crashes throughout the weekend. While balancing the books is an added factor in 2021 with the cost cap, a few midfield teams have cashed in early on development investments

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Emilia Romagna Grand Prix Driver Ratings

A frantic wet race at Imola produced plenty of excitement and drama as drivers scrabbled for grip. Amid the hatful of mistakes and incidents that ensued, who kept their noses cleanest?

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves Plus

How the Emilia Romagna GP result hinged on three crucial saves

Rain before the start of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix promised to spice up the action, and the race certainly delivered on that. Max Verstappen got the best launch to win from Lewis Hamilton, but both got away with mistakes that could have had serious consequences

Formula 1
Apr 19, 2021
The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era Plus

The back-bedroom world-beater that began a new F1 era

The first in a line of world beaters was designed in a back bedroom and then constructed in a shed. STUART CODLING recalls the Tyrrell 001

Formula 1
Apr 18, 2021