As we all know, the opening race was a bit topsy turvy and its difficult to draw a definitive pecking order, but Mercedes showed an encouraging performance. In the dry Q3, Hamilton out-qualified the ferrari’s by 0.5 secs and ended 0.6 behing the pole sitter in P3. Given Hamilton done two laps on those supersofts in Q3 as opposed to everyone else’s one lap, the gap could have been a bit closer, nevertheless, the Mercs seems up there in quali in Hamilton’s hands anayway.
Mercedes had a very solid race with Hamilton but were a bit unfortunate Rosberg had his failure. As Ross Brawn has confirmed, Hamilton was initially on a 2 stopper thus preserving his tyres and pacing himself accordingly, but once they realised their tyres weren’t up to the job, they switched back to a 3 stopper, so Mercs didnt really maximise their result given the switch in strategies. Their initial planned 2 stopper explains why they were so slow in the opeing couple of laps compared to the RB and Ferraris (plus Hamiltons laps had done 2 flyers in Q3 opposed to others solitary lap).
In conlusion, i think Mercs tyre wear is at the same level as that of Ferrari and Red Bull with only Lotus clear step ahead in tyre usuage, i expect them to be challenging for a podium in Malaysia. Also i think the pecking order in Qualifying is: RB,Mercs,Ferrari,Lotus…, race trim: Lotus,Ferrari,RB,Mercedes
I think it’s encouraging, especially for Hamilton, when so many were criticizing his decision to move. I know it’s only one race, but the timing of his move is more interesting given that Mclaren are not as competitive as they should be. That said, Mclaren has proven before they can develop a car into a winner, but part of that comes down to how quickly they can do so. Beyond that, is Button/Perez up to the job of hustling a less-than-perfect car into a competitive position in Q3?
From what we’ve seen so far, Rosberg is still competitive compared to Hamilton, so that’s also promising. Ultimately, I think it comes down to development for Mercedes, since that really hurt them last season. I think in the right circumstances, Mercedes can win a race or two this season, but given how competitive Lotus, Ferrari, and Red Bull appear to be, that will not be an easy task.
What I also found interesting was that Mercedes was regarded as one of the teams with a very high top speed in the past couple of years, but in Australia it was the Raikkonen’s Lotus that was hounding Hamilton’s Mercedes in the straights. Perhaps it was due to strategy/engine settings? I guess we’ll see in Sepang…
Yeah looking good! I think part the reason that Raikkonen looked so much quicker down the straight was at that point Hamilton had been struggling with his tyres so his lines into a lot of corners were compromised as he tried to cover the moves from Kimi! Plus with a wet quali session people’s set ups wouldn’t have been completely optimised for the dry (In my belief, I may be wrong there because the session finished on sunday but I thought the cars went into parc ferme as soon as qualifying had begun)
But with the mercs trying the 2 stopper obviously they wern’t going for ultimate pace early on! Encouraging was how long they did on the super softs I thought! We will get a better picture this weekend hopefully! I think a lot of the tyre performance in Australia was due to conditions, was a bit cooler than people probably expected!
Don’t forget that a key part of the weekend; the end of P2 was cut short for both Mercs so they do all the long run tyre work they would have liked, so there’s another reason they should perform better in Malaysia.
So basically same as last season
I predict big things. :)
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© Keith Collantine 2014 • Disclaimer
© 2014 Keith Collantine