Mercedes has won the last five drivers’ and constructors’ titles and has responded to a renewed threat from Ferrari, plus changing aerodynamic rules for 2019, with a record-breaking start to the season. Mercedes’ dominant Spanish Grand Prix performance last weekend moved it almost 100 points clear of Ferrari in the constructors’ championship and has made people question if whether it is possible for them to win all 21 races in Formula 1 this season.
Scuderia Ferrari started the season with high hopes after the positive first impressions from the winter test session. Ferrari’s supposed luck during testing was that they found the perfect setup for the car from the beginning. And that the temperatures remained relatively cool for a long time, which helped the tyres. The last day of testing was the warmest and there were already signs of problems in sector 3, but at that time there were no alarm bells ringing in Maranello.
Only six tracks fall into the Ferrari profile
Now it is not looking good for the future as Mercedes can build on the better platform, which is why their upgrades work better than at the other teams. To an extent, Ferrari and Red Bull have their hands tied. They will only take a big step forward if they change the concept of their cars, but that takes time. Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto slotted down the pessimists: “If the concept is really to blame, it depends on which part of the concept. That determines how quickly we can react.”
At first glance it seems that Red Bull has the easier work ahead of it than Ferrari. It’s not just a matter of a new rear wing, which then delivers more downforce. The whole thing has to be balanced at the front and there are limits to the engineers because of the new front wing. In Red Bull’s case, the team has a front wing concept similar to Mercedes, but Scuderia Ferrari went for a completely different route. The aerodynamics are so complex that you would have to change everything from front to rear.
Scary question: Does Mercedes now win every race? Not necessarily.
There are a few tracks in the calendar where the Ferrari SF90 could be the better car. Because there the proportion of corners is smaller than the proportion of straights. Bahrain was such a case. Montreal, Red Bull Ring, Spa, Monza and Sochi could also fall into the profile of Ferrari’s SF90. But in order to actually win, there are other parameters that have to fit, such as the the asphalt type, the temperatures and the tyre options of Pirelli.