user icon

Column: Mercedes stays efficient as Leclerc gets a reality check

  • Published on 28 Apr 2019 18:54
  • comments 2
  • By: Fergal Walsh

Mercedes once again executed a perfect weekend in Azerbaijan, as it continues to stretch out its advantage over Ferrari in the fight for the title.

Ferrari failed to keep maximise the weekend and lost out to their Silver Arrow rivals. To say the race was comfortable for Mercedes would be false, but in reality, its only main threat of losing the Grand Prix was if Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton took each other off the race track.

For most of the 51 laps, Bottas seemed to be in control, maintaining a small but consistent gap over Hamilton to take his second victory in four races.

It was another impressive performance from the Finn who takes over the lead in the championship, which he lost after the milestone 1000th Grand Prix event in Shanghai two weeks ago.

Ferrari looked the strongest outfit in practice, as it boasted a strong 1.4-second gap over Mercedes after the final session on Saturday morning. Mercedes claimed that the cooler track conditions hurt Ferrari as qualifying saw two major delays with crashes for Robert Kubica and Lewis Hamilton.

But for Mercedes to go from (on the timesheets) 1.4 seconds behind to three-tenths in front of Ferrari from one session to the next has almost been the story of the season so far. Right when Ferrari looked geared up to take the prizes, Mercedes spoils its party.

Of course, Ferrari managed to lock out the front row in Bahrain during qualifying, displaying that there is pace in the car. But it seems the set-up window of the SF90 is particularly narrow, which makes it very difficult for it to unlock the pace on a consistent basis.

Mercedes baffling everybody into thinking they were doing practice starts during Q3 tickled me, as they were just pulling over to let everyone past in order to get a slipstream. It was a risky thing to try, especially after what happened to Red Bull and Haas in China.

But Mercedes pulled it off, highlighting its efficiency and confidence to try something different in order to get the job done.

Then you must praise Bottas and Hamilton who withstood the challenge from Vettel in the dying moments of the session to lock out the front row once again.

Leclerc's reality check

Ferrari meanwhile, had just one car competing in the Q3 session, as Charles Leclerc made a mistake at the castle section – one that compromised his race as well as his efforts in qualifying.

“I am very sad for what happened but I deserve it," Leclerc said after qualifying. "I have been stupid, as I said on the radio. I have calmed down but I still think I have been stupid. This doesn’t change.

“Pole was possible today and I threw all the potential in the bin.”

Leclerc’s humbleness and quick ability to point out his own mistakes won’t help him cut out these errors, and although he may be young and inexperienced, he was promoted by Ferrari to help it win world championships.

As the cliché goes, you’re only as good as your last race in Formula 1. Leclerc has impressed this year and is set to have a successful career ahead of him – but his mistake cost Ferrari dearly. Going long on the mediums didn’t work for Leclerc, and pitting with 16 laps to go for the softs was asking a lot.

The Mercedes operation is really something to admire and watching Ferrari struggle to match and beat it is something we’ve seen quite often recently. Time is running out for Ferrari to claw back the big lead Mercedes has over it – and the Silver Arrows look nowhere near slipping up.


Replies (2)

Login to reply
  • f1dave

    Posts: 676

    Staying out for as long as he did on the mediums was not Leclerc's decision but another wrong "strategy" made by the Ferrrari team. Calling it his mistake ignoring that fact. Kindly put the blame where it belongs.

    • + 1
    • Apr 28 2019 - 22:16
    • Leclerc made a mistake on Saturday, no question. But people seem to forget that he was about to pass Sebastian by the time Seb went into the pits. Leclerc. This was just another spectacular strategic failure by Ferrari. Leclerc seemed faster all weekend long. The race was not different. Ferrari are just so astonishingly stupid when it comes to their drivers racing each other for position.

      • + 2
      • Apr 28 2019 - 23:32

Related news



SG Grand Prix of Singapore

Local time 

View more photos

SG Grand Prix of Singapore

Local time 

View more photos


Test calendar

Circuit de Catalunya - Testing

See full test schedule

Give your opinion!

Is Charles Leclerc the new number 1 driver at Ferrari?


World Championship standings 2019

Show full world champion standings

Driver profile

  • Team Mercedes
  • Points 994
  • Podiums 35
  • Grand Prix 95
  • Country Finland
  • Date of b. Aug 28 1989 (30)
  • Place of b. Nastola, Finland
  • Weight 70 kg
  • Length 1.73 m
Show full profile


Team profile

Show full profile

Formula 1 Calendar - 2019

Date
Grand Prix
Circuit
-
Spain
-
Spain
15 - Mar 17
Australia
29 - Mar 31
Bahrain
-
Bahrain
12 - Apr 14
China
26 - Apr 28
Azerbaijan
10 - May 12
Spain
-
Spain
23 - May 26
Monaco
7 - Jun 9
Canada
21 - Jun 23
France
28 - Jun 30
Austria
12 - Jul 14
United Kingdom
26 - Jul 28
Germany
2 - Aug 4
Hungary
30 - Sep 1
Belgium
6 - Sep 8
Italy
20 - Sep 22
Singapore
27 - Sep 29
Russian
11 - Oct 13
Japan
25 - Oct 27
Mexico
1 - Nov 3
United States of America
15 - Nov 17
Brazil
29 - Dec 1
United Arab Emirates
See full schedule

Formula 1 Calendar - 2019

Date
Grand Prix & Circuit
15 - Mar 17
Australia Albert Park
29 - Mar 31
12 - Apr 14
26 - Apr 28
Azerbaijan Baku City Circuit
10 - May 12
23 - May 26
Monaco Monte Carlo
7 - Jun 9
21 - Jun 23
France Paul Ricard
28 - Jun 30
Austria Red Bull Ring
12 - Jul 14
United Kingdom Silverstone
26 - Jul 28
Germany Hockenheimring
2 - Aug 4
Hungary Hungaroring
30 - Sep 1
6 - Sep 8
Italy Monza
20 - Sep 22
27 - Sep 29
Russian Sochi Autodrom
11 - Oct 13
25 - Oct 27
1 - Nov 3
United States of America Circuit of the Americas
15 - Nov 17
Brazil Interlagos
29 - Dec 1
United Arab Emirates Yas Marina Circuit
See full schedule
show sidebar