These are worrying times for Ferrari. Having looked like they might finally have a chance of overhauling Mercedes this season, the last week in Spain has taught they still have a lot of work to do to achieve parity.
The domination of the Silver Arrows in the V6 era of Formula 1 had looked to have been under serious threat in China, with Lewis Hamilton and co having no answer to the speed of Ferrari in qualifying in what appeared to be a watershed moment.
Hamilton back on top
Fast-forward a month and there is Hamilton atop the podium, celebrating his 64th Grand Prix victory after a dominant drive in Spain. It was the first decisive triumph by any driver in the first five races of the year, the reigning world champion finishing 20 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas as Mercedes completed a deserved one-two.
Hamilton is now 10/19 to retain the drivers’ title after opening up a 17-point gap to Sebastian Vettel, who looked well off the pace in Barcelona.
The same can be said for testing, Bottas setting a new lap record at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this week, smashing the mark set by Vettel in pre-season.
All the signs point to Mercedes having re-established their iron grip on Formula 1 having gotten on top of the tyre wear issue that dogged them so badly in the first fly-away section of the season.
Mercedes will head to Monaco supremely confident of achieving three wins on the bounce on a track dominated by Ferrari last year, the Scuderia having recorded a one-two finish.
Vettel is the 17/10 favourite to get back to winning ways but there are too many questions surrounding his Ferrari to back him with any confidence, while the team’s strategic decisions have also been questionable.
Red Bull, who don’t have the pace of the Italians, look better placed to challenge Mercedes at this moment in time and Ferrari have it all to do just to stay on Mercedes’ coattails in a remarkably quick turnaround of fortunes.
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