/Hamilton and Mercedes Halt The Ferrari Revival

Hamilton and Mercedes Halt The Ferrari Revival

china1 at Hamilton and Mercedes Halt The Ferrari Revival

Although Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes won the first round in Oz and the latest round in China with ease, and despite teammate Nico Rosberg grabbing that familiar second place, things aren’t entirely what they seem regarding the rest of season… thanks to Ferrari.

When a new F1 season begins, I always take the first few races with a pinch of salt, that is to say there are so many variables and uncharted territories regarding racing cobwebs and how a car and its tyres will perform in the dirty air of battle, it takes a few races to see any patterns.

From past seasons it’s not uncommon for a team dominating at the beginning to lose momentum half way through, the chasing teams often bridging or bettering the gap.

china2 at Hamilton and Mercedes Halt The Ferrari Revival

Round one’s result in Australia also highlighted how quickly the mighty can fall and be left for dead. Whilst Mercedes proved their 2014 dominance and superiority stuck with them throughout winter testing, the likes of Red Bull and McLaren are not close enough to even grab at their silver coat tails. In fact, the once almighty McLaren failed to get their cars to the chequered flag at Sepang.

But there is hope for us F1 fans – Ferrari has struggled over the past few seasons, and although some may attribute Vettel’s 2015 Malaysian win to a Mercedes pit and tyre strategy error, the Italian car proved itself as a genuine challenge with competitive lap times and an ability to look after hot rubber.

Mercedes may have shown superior performance in China, but even if you ignore the fact the race finished under a safety car – thanks to Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso locking its rear axle on the pit straight – the red cars weren’t too far behind.

china3 at Hamilton and Mercedes Halt The Ferrari Revival

The first half of the Chinese grand prix proved to be fairly exciting, both the Ferrari’s keeping Mercedes honest. However, it soon became apparent Hamilton was just keeping the Ferraris at arm’s length – as soon as the pit window opened, Hamilton let rip and managed some startlingly quick times despite his tyres being at the end of their life. The Brit also slammed in laps a whole second quicker than his teammate, Rosberg.

china4 at Hamilton and Mercedes Halt The Ferrari Revival

The second half of the race revealed the fact Kimi Raikkonen had clearly come to terms with his Ferrari, Vettel having to keep one eye on his mirrors. The Iceman showed some great turns of speed, but despite homing in on his teammate, he finished in a solid forth place.

Now three races have passed and the cobwebs have been blown away, there is indeed a pattern developing – whilst the Mercedes remains the fastest car, Ferrari are close enough to cause them problems, especially in hotter climes. Should Mercedes trip over themselves, you can bet Ferrari will be there to take advantage.

china5 at Hamilton and Mercedes Halt The Ferrari Revival

Behind the leading two teams, Williams are still performing well, managing to avoid the close and chaotic midfield battles between Lotus, Sauber and Toro Rosso.

Proving my theory on how quickly the mighty can fall in the world of F1, both McLaren and Red Bull find themselves either within or even behind this midfield battle, McLaren’s new Honda engine and Red Bull’s Renault unit proving almost useless.

china6 at Hamilton and Mercedes Halt The Ferrari Revival

Although Hamilton has won his second victory in three races, extending his championship lead to 13 points over Vettel, it’s not all roses in the Mercedes camp.

According to the BBC, Nico Rosberg claimed Hamilton “compromised [my] race massively” during the Chinese Grand Prix.

The German accused Hamilton of driving slowly unnecessarily, a strategy that he felt backing him up into the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.

Rosberg also said Hamilton was “just thinking about himself”.

china7 at Hamilton and Mercedes Halt The Ferrari Revival

Let’s go back to Belgium last season. Remember that radio transmission? “Nico hit me. Nico’s hit me.”

Only a few laps into the 2014 Belgium grand prix, and with Hamilton defending his line into a corner, Rosberg turned in, shattering his front wing on Hamilton’s rear tyre, puncturing it and effectively putting the Brit out of the race.

After the race, an angry Hamilton told the press: “We had a meeting about it and he basically said he did it on purpose. He said he could have avoided it, but he didn’t want to. He basically said, ‘I did it to prove a point’.”

Could this be the start of a Friend or Foe in-team war, something I touched upon last season?

If these two drivers start throwing their toys out of their prams, you can bet your last slice of pizza it won’t be the Italian team picking up the pieces.

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(Journalist) – James is a published fiction and article writer from London (UK) with a serious penchant for Ferrari F1, anything with an engine, and English Pointers.