Mercedes is leading the Constructor’s Championship of the 2018 Formula One Championship by only one point in front of Ferrari while Lewis Hamilton is trailing by a deficit of nine points behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
Mercedes dominated the opening round of the season in Melbourne, but lost out to Ferrari due to a virtual safety car period in the race. The team was then beaten by the Italian squad fair and square in the second meeting in Bahrain, followed then by the Chinese Grand Prix which was utterly dominated by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel.
The Anglo-German squad was left shocked by the fact that the speed of its W09 machine has faded since the winter testing and the first GP weekend when they showed commanding pace. In the qualifying session for the Australian GP, Lewis Hamilton secured the pole position by an ominous 0.664 seconds in front of Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen. Two weeks later, Ferrari locked out the front row in the qualifying for the Bahrain GP, beating the thrid-placed Valtteri Bottas by 0.166 seconds.
The Maranello-based then raised the bar in the following Chinese qualifying session, securing the front row of the grid by an astonishing gap of 0.530 seconds. What left Mercedes baffled was the fact that Ferrari could maintain its competitive advantage on the following day even if Sebastian Vettel was robbed the victory by an unfortunate safety car period.
Team boss Toto Wolff indicated that Mercedes has suffering from the ‘frenetic’ behaviour of Pirelli’s tyres and the car rarely hits the sweet spot of the compounds.
"We were overheating the tyres," he said. "We're not in a good place. We're bouncing between freezing and overheating. You can see when we hit the sweet spot like we did in Melbourne we are very fast, the lap pace of the car is very good,” he is quoted by autosport.com
What left the former race driver surprised was the sudden change in the pecking order after the eight-day long winter test session when Mercedes was dictating the pace.
"In Formula 1 there is never a quick fix. You can see how fast the picture can change. In testing and in Melbourne you could predict that we would run away with the championship because the car was so dominant. And here we go three races in and we're not.”
The Austrian is sure that Mercedes can find remedy to its tyre woes and regain its dominant status.
"In my opinion this is a great group of people. We just need to stick our heads together, stay calm, get the head down, and come up with solutions. [I have] huge confidence in the people. They've proved that in the past."