Mercedes F1 chairman Niki Lauda believes that Ferrari have the better car as the Italian take the fight to Mercedes this season, the Italian team winning two of the four races so far and indeed set the pace during the Russian Grand Prix despite being beaten by Valtteri Bottas.
Lauda told Krone, “Ferrari is clearly ahead of us. We need to carefully study what is not working and take the right steps forward in time for Barcelona.”
“All the teams will bring upgrades and Ferrari will make a step forward, we have to make two steps and Red Bull needs to make three,” warned the Austrian F1 legend.
The consensus in the paddock is that the Ferrari SF70-H is a better race car, capable of getting the Pirlli tyres up to optimal operating window quicker than the Mercedes W08.
But Lauda points to other niggles that hamper the Silver Arrows, “The car is too heavy, we need to improve the aerodynamics, and above all we need to understand why the new Pirelli tyres do not work as they do on the Ferrari.”
While the team’s star driver Lewis Hamilton struggled at Sochi, Bottas seized the moment and out-foxed the Ferrari duo to score his first ever grand prix victory.
Lauda says that the win justifies the World Champion team’s decision to hire the Finn, “It was a perfect performance that I never expected. It was the right decision by Toto Wolff and myself to get Bottas on board. Bottas is our man.”
After four rounds Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel leads the championship standings with 86 points, 13 points ahead of Hamilton and 20 ahead Bottas, but Mercedes with 136 points lead the constructors’ championship by one point over Ferrari.