Ferrari And Red Bull Surrender

Ferrari And Red Bull Surrender

No-one can beat Lewis Hamilton to a seventh World Championship this year.

That’s what young guns Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc are saying after Hamilton’s outrageous three-wheeler win in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

As teams and drivers back-up for another shot at Silverstone this weekend, Hamilton has a 30-point lead after only four races and the only rival within shouting distance is his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Asked after Silverstone 1 if anyone could beat Hamilton his rivals are honest and realistic.

“No,” says Verstappen, without even qualifying the comment.

“No,” says Leclerc. “I think the guy that has some chances is Valtteri – but that’s it.”

The message is clear and Mercedes is completely dominant.

Silverstone gave a clear indication of the relative performances of the three top teams, compared to last year’s British GP. The weather was fairly similar, the tyres were the same and the track has not changed much because of it had relatively little use because of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Last year Bottas scraped to pole by a tiny margin over Hamilton with a 1 minute 25.093 second lap, using medium-compound Pirelli tyres. Leclerc was third with a 1:25.172s and Verstappen was fourth with a 1:25.276.

This year, Hamilton’s pole was a 1:24.303s, Verstappen was third on 1:25.325s and Leclerc fourth with 1:25.427s.

This shows that Mercedes has improved by 0.79 seconds compared to last year, while Ferrari has lost 0.255 and Red Bull is about the same, having lost only 0.049s.

Although Ferrari is talking a great deal about aerodynamic performance, it is very clear that the problem is really the power unit and that all the talk is simply to disguise the fact that Ferrari has lost performance following the FIA investigations into Ferrari last winter.

“There’s a clear regulation on power units, there have been clarifications in Austin what you are allowed to do or not which were important,” says Mercedes team boss, Toto Wolff.

“But nothing that was in any way surprising because if you comply to the regulations that was clear anyway. I think the irony of the story is that we were pushed to absolutely new levels. It brought us to almost burnout last year – to develop and innovate in a way to be competitive on track. And here we go. I think we made a substantial jump in performance from 2019 to 2020 because we needed to last year. That is a little bit ironic for me.

“Nothing would make me more happy than if we would have three or four teams being competitive out there and giving us a run for our money.”

But that is not going to happen.

Ferrari chairman John Elkann said a few days ago that he doesn’t expect the team to be competitive until at least the 2022 season. This is because the engines are now frozen with only one development step allowed each season.

Thus far, Leclerc has been particularly impressive in getting points with an uncompetitive car but, as things settle down, Ferrari knows it is looking at fifth or perhaps even sixth in the Constructors’ world championship by the end of the year.