Mercedes’ technical director James Allison explains the strengths and weaknesses of Mercedes and Ferrari’s 2018 F1 season at the halfway mark.
It has been close between Mercedes and Ferrari this season so far. Even though the German manufacturer is ahead of its Italian rivals by 10 points, but it has been a tooth and nail battle for supremacy.
Ferrari has looked much better this year on most of the race weekends especially on Sundays, but for some hard luck they have been undone by Mercedes. The German team has had unfortunate luck as well, but they have fully exploited on Ferrari’s poor races.
As per Allison, the margins between the two teams is very small. They both have their sets of strengths and also weaknesses, which the Brit tries to dissect and explain. “It is a little tough to say because it tends to vary a little bit track to track, race to race as the development race has ebbed and flowed through the season.
“But, there are a few patterns that are relatively constant. Certainly for a few races now we have been missing just a few horsepower to a Ferrari that has had a very, very impressive rate of development through the year.
“We are probably on average better than Ferrari through the corners at most tracks, sometimes they take a bit from us in the low-speed, but medium and high-speed we normally prosper relative to them.
“I would say they have tended to be a wee bit stronger than us when it’s at tracks that are strongly rear limited, but we are talking small margins, and us the opposite.
“We have tended to have better pit stops they have tended to have better starts although we appear to have put that right in recent races with a lot of work from the good guys in the Controls department here in the factory.
“These are all small, small margins which is why the championship has yo-yoed one way and the other. It’s quite interesting to note that in the 12 races we have had so far, only five of them have actually been won by the car that most people would agree was the quickest on that weekend.
“Seven of them have been won against the head, three of them we have stolen, two of them Ferrari have stolen and two Red Bull have had.
“So, it has been a very, very intriguing year where these very small differences, maybe an error, maybe a moment of particular genius or just sheer good fortune or ill fortune is what is determining who comes home smiling at the end of the race.
“So, none of it is set in stone, the development race over the remainder of the season, who stays strong, who doesn’t make mistakes, who can keep their chin up the longest and all the cliches you want to roll out, that is actually what is going to determine this utterly compelling and brilliant year.
“None of us know, none of our opposition know who it is going to favour. That is what makes it so exciting, frightening too but it is what makes us look forward to this second part of the year, to see whether it can be us that is standing at the end of the year with smiles on our face knowing that we did a really good job in a season that put us to the test like no other.”
The second part will be interesting as there are clear favourites and non-favourites tracks for both the teams and their drivers. One of the known circuit where Mercedes falter most is Singapore, but its strength lies in Belgium, Italy, Austin, Russia and possibly Mexico.
However, Ferrari could come good in Japan, Brazil and Abu Dhabi along with Singapore but if they have improved their HP, they can challenge Mercedes on power tracks too. Red Bull cannot be discounted as they can disrupt the title fight on their strength tracks as well.