The Silver Arrows celebrate their second double victory in the second race at the Bahrain Grand Prix 2019. Hamilton and Bottas can hardly believe their luck, yet they feel for Charles Leclerc.
Mercedes-Boss Toto Wolff can’t resist a slight grin, as first Lewis Hamilton and then Valtteri Bottas overtake the freshly wounded Ferrari driver from Monaco and hence secure the double victory in Bahrain. Nevertheless, Wolff is only painfully aware that this Sunday: “Charles had very bad luck today. He was the fastest man and deserved the win. “
The race winner Lewis Hamilton even admits that overtaking Leclerc felt “weird”. “I even raised my hands when I passed him, but there wasn’t anything I could do. I just didn’t have any problems.”
Mercedes Warns of Ferrari-Power
Yet, with all the celebration and empathy Mercedes is also worried. When Leclerc lost around 125 hp close to the end of the race, he was already ahead of Hamilton by around 10.8 seconds, who calls his victory a “victory of reliability”. Yet he warns: “There’s a lot of work ahead of us if we want to stand up to these guys.”
What Hamilton describes is further clarified by his boss Toto Wolff at a press meeting after the race. Like in qualifying Ferrari was faster on the straights during the race by about four-tenths of a second. “No one could keep up,” warns the Austrian.” – “Under these circumstances, it was hard to fight back.”
Wolff rejects Ferrari’s argument that Mercedes was using more downforce. “Ferrari wins time on long straights – with or without DRS. So it doesn’t have anything to do with the air resistance.”
The Mercedes boss appears baffled and continues: “During the tests in Barcelona, in terms of power we were on par with Ferrari. In Melbourne, we were slightly ahead. This time Ferrari was clearly superior. The mystery race was Melbourne. Something must have gone dramatically wrong during that weekend.”
The last part of this statement is true. ABMS and F1 Insider already learned during the tests in Barcelona, how good Ferrari’s engine is.
Toto Wolff Worried Like 2018
Wolff’s words this time are reminiscent of what he said during the beginning of last season. Then as well, did Mercedes complain about Ferrari’s power advantage on the straights. Conspiracy theorists even accused the Reds of fraud. But Wolff sees an important difference to 2018: “Last year they were ahead of us at the beginning of straights. At top speeds, we were back in business. Now they are faster everywhere. They beat us at the beginning with more power and in the second half because they don’t shut down their MGU-K as early as we do. Our speed curve flattens towards the end of the curve, Ferrari’s curve continues to increase.”
The Viennese is worried that it will be difficult to crack Ferrari’s power advantage going forward. Wolff: “It doesn’t matter if it’s the chassis or the engine: at our level, you only gain in incremental steps. That’s why it’s going to be difficult to equalize such a huge power gap.”
Well, watch out Mercedes! At the next race in Shanghai, the straights are even longer … And eventually, even the luckiest streak runs out.