After misfortunes in the last two GPs, Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen are looking forward to the following races and counting on the speed their cars have showed so far this season.
Scuderia Ferrari popped up with a surprise form this season after a relatively modest winter test period when their car, the SF71-H seemed to be only the third force behind Mercedes and Red Bull. Ferrari was the only top team which made radical changes to its 2018 machine. The SF71-H shows a list of departures from the previous design concepts.
Sebastian Vettel managed to win the season-opening Australian GP, however he needed luck to defeat Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton who controlled the whole weekend. For the second race weekend, which was hosted by Bahrain, Ferrari raised its game in terms of competitiveness, securing a one-two in qualifying and winning the race with Sebastian Vettel.
During the following race weekend in China, Ferrari smashed the whole field with an ominous margin in the qualifying session, but lost out in the race due to an unfortunate safety car period and subsequent crash. In Azerbaijan, round four of the championship, Sebastian Vettel secured his third consecutive pole position, controlled the race before another safety car deprived him of a seemingly safe triumph.
Instead of leading the championship by a safe margin, Sebastian Vettel is trailing Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton by four points.
"The result changes nothing - we have a good car. I’m not worried. For me the most important is that we have a good car. Now we have to make sure we keep having a good car."” said the German.
Ferrari’s upturn in qualifying form ended a long drought of fading one-lap pace. The Scuderia last had a car capable of fighting for pole position in 2008. Since then, the Scuderia only managed to claim pole position on rare occasions.
"The big difference from last year is that we’re fast enough for pole now. That was a problem before," added Vettel.
The German’s team-mate Kimi Räikkönen stressed that his team needs to get its act together to minimize the mistakes, but it can count on the so far competitive SF71-H.
“We are pretty confident for the future, because we have the speed, and this is the main thing. We just need to minimize all the mistakes and the issues to be up there all the time.
The Barcelona-Catalunya circuit which will play host to the fifth round of the championship, kicking off the European leg of the season, could be a real test for the Italians’ car. It played second fiddle there to Red Bull and Mercedes during the winter testing, and Pirelli’s modified tyres can only help Mercedes which has been desperately searching for the best way to extract the best from the tyres. FIA’s recent clampdown on the oil burning can also harm Ferrari’s qualifying pace. If Ferrari manages to carry over its form, it can be the real measure for the field, ending Mercedes' four-year-long utter dominance.