Formula One expert Mark Hughes, who currently is a Grand Prix editor for Motor Sport magazine and has had several F1-related books published, comments on the third round of the 2019 Formula One season and gives the first impressions on Scuderia Ferrari’s performance as well as the team order in the Chinese Grand Prix:
“Defining hard point was that Mercedes was simply a handy amount faster than Ferrari. The layout of the track allowed it to utilise its downforce advantage over Ferrari much more effectively than had Bahrain, meaning the Ferrari’s power advantage counted for less. The SF90 still isn’t the well-balanced thing it was in Barcelona testing and is over-using its outer-front tyre, this just compounding its small shortfall.” – he explained for motorsportmagazine.com.
“As Sebastian Vettel was forced to back off to avoid the slower-starting Mercedes into Turn One, so it allowed team-mate Charles Leclerc to get down his inside. Vettel was quicker than Leclerc this weekend but Ferrari took too long to ask Leclerc to move aside. By the time this did happen, Vettel had damaged his tyres and could make no impact upon the escaping Bottas. Had he run third from the start, maybe there’d have been a chance of fighting for second. Vettel had set the fastest lap of the race to date a lap after rejoining on his new tyres. Leclerc’s best seven laps later (around 0.4sec-worth lighter) was slightly slower. Confirming that Vettel genuinely did have better pace than his team-mate and it hadn’t just been about strategy and the team prioritising him. The Ferrari switch-around then triggered a somewhat nervy series of strategy calls, as the team tried to give Leclerc a second bite at the cherry but succeeded only in losing him fourth place to Max Verstappen. Red Bull’s early call to put undercut pressure on the Ferraris triggered a domino effect that switched the race up-front from the pre-race one-stop plan to a two-stop. But whatever the number of stops, Mercedes – and Hamilton – had it well covered. For the sake of the championship, it is to be hoped that Vettel and the Scuderia can find the key to unlock this car.” – Mark Hughes added.
“Would the Ferraris with their greater straightline speed be able to slipstream the Mercedes down that long back straight? The answer to that was defined by how much slower they were through the long, right-handed Turns 12-13 sequence. The Ferrari took a lot more steering through there than the Mercedes – and through pretty much every corner of long duration, of which there are many here – and was consequently slower onto the straight. By the time it was going faster, it was only making up what it had lost on the entry to the straight. The longer the corner, the more the front tyres would overheat and so the greater the Mercedes downforce advantage would pay back: that at least was the working theory. Furthermore, that Ferrari power advantage was only being seen in high modes. In general race-running mode, it wasn’t there. The GPS data, supplied by the FIA and seen by all the teams, has shown that quite consistently in the season to date.” – Mark Hughes concluded.