With Mercedes powered teams clearly out front and the Renault clan equally obviously right at the back, Formula 1’s third engine supplier Ferrari has had a comparatively low-profile winter, with two possibilities emerging: the first that they have something in reserve which they have yet to unleash, the second being that they may be down on required power relative to Mercedes.
Many believe that works team Scuderia Ferrari currently rank somewhere between the top Mercedes teams like Mercedes themselves and longtime customer McLaren and the struggling Renault-powered outfits.
A speculative report doing the rounds in the paddock as the final pre-season test began in Bahrain on Thursday put Ferrari’s deficit to Mercedes at up to 75 horse power.
When that number was put to Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn said: “I can’t give an honest impression because I have not paid attention to it.”
“I have only seen other cars when I’m passing them or when they’re passing me,” he is quoted by Speed Week, “but I can’t put a number on it.”
As for Maranello based Ferrari’s overall position with just three test days of testing left until Melbourne, Raikkonen told members of the media after day one in Sakhir, “We are not yet where we want to be, but we are not far away.”
He also revealed that Ferrari intends to try a race simulation this week in Bahrain, “Fernando [Alonso] will too, and then we will see where we are, but really we are still working on the setup.
“I have had much worse winters and then the season has gone well, so I’m not worried. Things can change quickly during the season,” said Raikkonen.
Mercedes’ obvious advantage, however, is evidenced by the smiles in the Williams garage, with some paddock sources believing that the new FW36 (the immediate successor to to the woeful FW35 of 2013) is currently a more competitive package than the works Ferrari.
But Mercedes-powered Williams driver Valtteri Bottas said: “[Ferrari] also seem strong. Their reliability is not too bad, and we will see that Renault will improve.”
“I don’t think we should underestimate anybody,” Bottas is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace, “but we’re hoping to be in the top ten and my feeling, at least for the start of the season, is that cars with Mercedes engines will be in front.” (GMM)
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