Good point - I wondered about this too. I was really surprised by how easily Lewis pulled away. Maybe Ferrari did have an issue with the HS tyres because Vettel did try to qualify on US after all. Even though they may have thought they'd be on pole, if they went through the HS very quickly from pole they would have been vulnerable at the pits. Maybe Merc knew this and therefore they executed their strategy knowing that even going at a slow pace, Vettel would still have gone through his HS tyres more than Lewis.Phil wrote: ↑Tue Sep 18, 2018 10:42 amThat's a good point. I am torn about what unfolded on lap 11. Hamilton dropped his lap times by nearly 2-3 seconds and started to pull away massively from Seb. At first, Seb was holding against it, but then the gap increased further to 3+. I am not sure if he was pacing himself or if his tires were really done for. Either way, Ferrari reacted (in my opinion a little too early) by bringing in Vettel and trying to force an undercut.
However, that undercut IMO was never going to work, because it was already clear that the harder tires were going to be difficult in get into the best temperature range. In other words, the undercut was going to be less effective.
There is a point though that Mercedes somehow aced the performance on the HS. They have put a lot of effort into not overheating their rear-tires. I think part of that is because Hamilton was nursing his tires to that extend in the opening of the stint, that he still had plenty of performance left on them after lap 11. Perhaps the Ferrari needed more energy in their tires. This could be seen during Q3 on their respective outlaps: The Ferrari's were driving a lot faster in their tire preparation on the outlap while the Mercedes both were extremely slow. Maybe by running at the front, Mercedes/Hamilton could optimally drive their own pace suited to their tires than Ferrari could behind.
I think we continue from Singapore on, probably knowing that Ferrari still have some kind of power advantage (acceleration wise), but Mercedes have definitely found something in regards to traction and tire wear...
I certainly agree with the points people are making about Ferrari under performing in Q3 - there's no doubt they should have been closer to Merc and that Lewis put in a great lap, but I'm not sure they had that time in the car. Also I guess the main point is even if they were a match for that time, I think they were gaining a lot in sector 1, at least in practice 3 and therefore I still think that Merc had them in sector 2 and 3 - this for me is the big story and is completely opposite to the past when Merc had a big engine advantage and even with their poor slow speed corner performance could put in a competitive lap. There's no way Ferrari are poor in slow speed corners, but the car just didn't look hooked up round the track at any point for me, not to the level of Merc or RB when they put in certain laps during the weekend which raised an eyebrow so to speak. I just think it's not as dramatic as some people are making out with Ferrari having 'thrown it away' - maybe they could have got pole and the win but it was incredibly close and therefore Merc have improved massively in comparison to last year. Throughout last year Ferrari tended to be better in the corners on most tracks and Merc better on the straights. Everything you tend to hear from Merc is the opposite this year. Even in the first few races if you remember Merc were surprised by Ferrari's power, .e.g at Baku and China and there was all that investigation and electrics and oil systems, etc. Ferrari have had the better power unit package as a whole all year (although Merc look to have made up a lot of ground recently, and it seems track characteristics play a part in how much better Ferrari's PU us compared to Merc's).
Just some figures to back up a couple of points I made. In qualifying both Seb and Kimi had very similar sector times. Ferrari lost 0.4 in sector 2 and 0.3 in sector 3. In sector 1 they gained a tenth over Lewis but much more over others (possibly Lewis just hooked up a great sector 1, minimising their deficiencies there).
In terms of the speed traps in qualifying - Ferrari were top of all 4 measurements, +3kmh at speed trap, +4kmh at finish line, +4kmh at intermediate 1, +3kmh at intermediate 2.