Ferrari and Mercedes refuse to give up on title despite strong Red Bull showing at Spa
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  27 Aug 2013   |  6:53 pm GMT  |  182 comments

Ferrari and Mercedes both admitted they had work to do to challenge Red Bull for the title but they have no intention of giving up on the chase.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel took a commanding victory in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, taking the lead from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton on the first lap and never looking back as he took his fifth win of the season and 31st of his career.

Three-time champion Vettel stretched his lead to 46 points over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who finished a strong second at Spa, with Hamilton, who completed the podium, a further 12 points adrift in third.

However, despite the manner of Vettel’s victory being quite convincing, Ferrari were pleased to have found the pace to be contending at the front while Mercedes were relieved that they didn’t have any tyre issues.

We’re approaching the part of the season where teams will be increasingly under pressure to switch more resources to their 2014 car because of the big regulation change which includes a new engine formula. But Ferrari and Mercedes don’t appear to be ready to give up just yet.

Double world champion Alonso, whose last victory came at the Spanish Grand Prix in May, believes there’s still hope for the title. “It is still open,” he said. “We just need to keep trying to improve our performance and try to turn it around. We recovered some of the optimism lost. It was a good weekend in terms of feeling and points.”

However the Spaniard added that Ferrari need to find more pace to match the Red Bulls: “In the race, once we were second we were 0.2-0.4secs slower every lap,” he added. “When you are the second fastest, you deserve to be second. We just need to congratulate Sebastian and Red Bull and get better for Monza.”

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali was pleased with the team’s response to disappointing results in the German and Hungarian Grands Prix – but he added the team need to make “another step” forward in performance to put pressure on Red Bull.

“We had a very bad July for many reasons and I am very pleased to see that we are back on track but it is not enough,” said Domenicali. “If you want to make sure that we are able to arrive at the end we need to have another step with regards to the performance of the car and this is what I am seeking from my people.

“For us it’s important to get back on the trace of improving the car but for sure we have seen Red Bull has improved and we need to stay there because we can beat them by improving the car better than them and being there if there’s an opportunity that comes because they may have a problem. Don’t forget last year…”

Domenicali was referring to the fact Alonso was 39 points ahead of Vettel after last year’s Italian Grand Prix, but found himself behind the German just three races later.

The mood is similarly bullish at Mercedes where Hamilton thinks Vettel can be caught – but it’ll be “very tough” to achieve. “It’s a big, big gap,” said the 2008 world champion. “It’s a huge gap so it’s going to be very tough to close that but I’m going to keep pushing.

“It’s going to be very, very tough, undoubtedly. He [Sebastian] has just had a phenomenal car for a long, long time and it still is phenomenally quick and he does the job so it’s the perfect package.

“But we’ve had some really strong races and we’ve been there or thereabouts competing with him and we have finished ahead of him in the past so it doesn’t mean that we can’t do that in these next races. But it is getting closer and closer to the point where we really need to be finishing ahead every single time to close that gap.”

And while Hamilton, who finished third at Spa one place ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg, is hopeful Mercedes can be in the mix at the next race in Italy, he is expecting to make a real step forward at the next race in Singapore.

“These two circuits [Spa and Monza], you get a downforce package and you’re kind of stuck with it. It either has or hasn’t worked. Then afterwards we’ll have the high-downforce package we had in the previous races but hopefully it should be improved again. So I’m hoping we’ll be more competitive from then on.”

Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn was pleased his two cars didn’t have any tyre issues at Spa, but he conceded that the team are probably around half a second off the pace.

“We’re not quite sure why we struggled so much on the first couple of laps as we were sitting ducks,” said Brawn. “But that’s probably where the car was and we’re half a second slower than we need to be.

“We didn’t have any tyre issues, which was great. On the last stint both drivers were able to push hard when they needed to and defend their position against Webber, so that was OK. We’re getting there but it’s a moving target and Red Bull are not sitting still.”

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1

There’s no doubt that fundamentally the Red Bull car is supreme, and Vettel knows how to take advantage of that. Not only is the car supreme I would say the team is as well both in terms of design and their ability to analyse the situation in adavnce and respond to challenges of each particular circuit. Until another team can rise above this in all areas then Sebastion Vettel is set to continue to win championships.

2

Sorry to see the JA:F1 comments section degenerating a little of late. I generally just CTRL+F and enter ALLEN to read some informed comments.

3

oops I meant keeping Massa as a benefit.

4

James if you were the boss of Ferrari would you see as a benefit? My view is that he needs replacing with younger blood , Hulkenberg being the one I would hire. Kimi is not the answer in fact he probably wouldn’t do much better than Massa against Mr Alonso.

5

F1 should take a sabbatical next year.

6

A bit of a non story really. Ferrari and Mercedes refuse to “give up” with eight races left in the season? Hardly a surprise. We’ve seen bigger leads overturned in the not too distant past.

Now if Vettel extends his lead again at Monza, we may well some some of their competitors throw in the towel.

7

Ferrari has improved. Mercedes has improved. Red Bull are not sitting still. All in front of our very eyes. In the space of 6 months.

To all F1 engineers, development, testing and other team members – I salute you all.

We might talk a bit too much about drivers. But let’s acknowledge the people behind these cutting edge cars.

8

I still stand by what I have been saying for the last 3 and a half years, all the top four drivers (Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, & Raikkonen), could have done what Vettel has done with the equipment he has had at his disposal. The problem is that Vettel and Webber are not comparable, because put simply, Webber is simply not as good as the drivers mentioned above. I’d rate Webber with the Jenson Button, or Nico Rosberg’s of this world, and anyone who has watched formula 1 for some time would agree with me.

9

And I still say you are wrong. The equipment Vettel has had at his disposal is at his disposal in no small part because of Vettel himself. Among his other attributes, he’s the most technical driver on the grid and works the longest hours with his engineers. To whatever extent his car is “the best”, Vettel himself plays an important role in making it so.

“I’d rate Webber with the Jenson Button, or Nico Rosberg’s of this world”

I’d agree with you. But I’d also notice that Hamilton is a lot closer to Rosberg in results than Vettel is to Webber.

10

Agree with all that.

The other thing people forget about Vettel is that he is effectively Schumacher’s apprentice. All the traits you mention – hardest worker, most technical, working with the team to perfect the car – these are all the things which kept Schuey out front for so long at Benneton and Ferrari. They never drove for the same team in F1, but they karted and did year after year of that indoor race of champions competition together. The Grandmaster passed on everything he knew to his younger countryman, I’m sure mainly because Schumacher believed he was worthy and would apply himself properly (unlike, for example, Massa at Ferrari).

11

You are probably right. But what exactly is the point being argued?

If we take this argument far enough one could even say that there’s probably a Chinese kid of the billion people there, that if given the chance and the equipment Hamilton had, would have beaten Hamilton.

It’s just banter between Hamilton fans vs Alonso fans vs Vettel fans. History would just record that Vettel won 4 WDCs.

Is Senna a lesser driver than Schumacher just because he didn’t win 7 WDCs? Is Nelson Piquet with 3 WDCs better than Hakkinen with 2? The same observation could be made that had Senna been in a better F1 car earlier in his career, he could have won more WDCs. Likewise had Hakkinen been in the Ferrari, and Schumacher in the McLaren, the WDCs would look very different. It’s just the nature of F1, that it’s not just man vs man – its also machine vs machine and team vs team.

12

I think anyone who feels these guys should give up need to find a new sport to follow.

Outside of RB There are potentially 6 drivers capable of a win on a given day FA, LH, KM, NR, RG even MW Outside contenders diResta and Sutil each in capable cars able to take advantage of any mishaps or get in the way.

Hamilton, 2007, Webbers 2010- I Would not give up at this stage of the season.the thought would not even cross

my mind

13

this is Bernie and his marketeers talking now. There a still 9 races to go and a million or so tickets to be sold…Of course they are not giving up haha ! Can anyone imagine Merc and Ferrari saying the opposite ? In normal circumstances the cat is in the bag for Seb. And though I am a Ferrari for 30 years now, I think he deserves it fully and completely. Seb and RB are a class act.

14

Not sure I get your thinking. It’s a mark of world class sportsmen that they seldom give up.

Us fans might think, and rightly so based on track record, that Vettel’s chances of winning is very very good; but to then conclude that Ferrari have given-up? That doesn’t necessarily follow.

It’s like saying – if Federer leads Nadal by 2 sets to love, Federer has a very good chance of winning the match. But will Nadal give up? Of course not. He will keep fighting till the end. That’s how most world class sportsmen are.

15

I think Merc would be happy with second this year, it would prove to the head men that all there efforts where coming good. They will put more and more resources over to the 2014 car and just try and keep 2013 ahead of Ferrari and the rest. This will give them a good result this year and a good base for next.

As for Ferrari they want second place to show they havnt sliped to far back. Neither will try and catch Red Bull but they want to beat each other.

16

Nevermind Ferrari and Mercedes: I wonder if RBR are confident enough of their lead, to start moving THEIR resources to 2014!

17

I wonder…. it was relatively cold wasn’t it in Spa? I wonder if the work Merc have done in preserving the tryes has prevented them making the most out of them when the conditions are cold (Ross Brawn did mention that may be a factor in an interview at one of the practice sessions I believe…)

Whatever it is, it seems to be that at any race weekend it’s either Merc *or* Ferrari who can sustain a challenge to Red Bull. For either Hamilton or Alonso to win, it needs BOTH teams to be able to mount a challenge at ALL the remaining races (and either some help from their team mates or a couple of DNFs for Vettel…)

18

Its comes down what its always come down to, best team. RB have the best driver/engineer/management/designer package. They arrive on friday and from then on more often than the others get it right. They develop the car in the right direction throughout the season.

Their biggest weakness was tyres, now that Pirelli have gone down the more conservative route which they seem to do in the second half of every season, it plays right into their hands.

I wonder if they should bring Riccardo in early and move MW on. Seems to be little gained by him staying.

19

What will be more interesting for me is when Sebastian settles the championship early, will he move over and let Mark take a win before bowing out, although I doubt Mark will be able to complete that against Ferrari and Mercedes, even with the allegedly best car!

20

He did exactly that in Brazil 2011. Vettel’s car had a “gearbox issue” slowed down, allowed Webber to overtake, and miraculously sped up and followed Mark to the chequered flag. I don’t think this will happen in 2013.

The more interesting question is whether RB will replace Webber with Ricciardo before the end of the season.

21

Ricciardo’s hips are too wide, so probably not.

22

James,

Do you think RBR gave up their passive DRS they experimented at the last pre-season test in Barca?

Looks like they are keeping it for Singapore as they did it last year.

23

What a picture of Alonso and Lewis, it feels like they’re holding hands on a date. Good one, lol.

My thoughts on Spa race:

Vettel car was set up for a dry race, as he’s points ahead he can gamble and it paid off very well.

Alonso was on maybe 70% dry and 30% wet set up?

Lewis targeted for a wet race hence he wasn’t able to catch up.

24

Judging Alonso practice times I think he used a full dry set up. as did Lewis I suspect.

25

My two bits:

Everyone knows the title is Vettel’s.

But is Vettel 4 WDC’s better than Alonso, Hamilton or Kimi?

I simply cannot believe that’s the case.

‘spose that’s what’s fascinating and infuriating about F1.

26

Hamilton barely won his title against Massa at the last corner in cars that were most of the time equal and on some tracks the Mclaren or Ferrari was faster and the Ferrari had worse reliability and pit stops.

So Hamilton’s title isn’t that impressive. Neither was the way he threw away an easy title in 2007.

Alonso won 2 titles with what is regarded to be an illegal car hence the damper being forbidden halfway 2006 (which was also used in 2005) and after that, he didn’t impress as much as before.

27

So Hamilton’s title isn’t that impressive. Neither was the way he threw away an easy title in 2007….

I realise nothing I say is going to change your mind, but do you really think LH’s achievement in 2007 can so easily be dismissed? Take a moment to consider his circumstances – he was in his rookie season, partnered with the formidable FA, and if that wasn’t enough he had all the spygate business going on around him as well. Yet despite those, some what daunting, circumstances he still only lost by 1 point. To be fair, had the team not made such a flat footed strategy call in China it would have all been done and dusted. Woulda shoulda coulda counts for nothing I know, but credit where it is due, please.

28

Can people really think like this about F1???

29

Well, K isn’t right to say Hamilton’s title wasn’t impressive. But of course the non-WCC stat is skewed by how weak Kovalainen was for Mclaren in comparison to Raikkonen or Massa.

Nevertheless, he was seemingly just responding to the idea that Vettel’s possible fourth consecutive title isn’t so impressive, though it has been delivered in 5 years. LH has obviously been good, but at the same time, Alonso has been ahead of him in the last three years, in hardly superior machinery.

30

Hmm, guess some Nietzsche is in order:

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

When you say Hamilton’s been in competitive cars his whole career, I’m assuming you don’t mean title-challenging cars, but rather race-winning cars. He had cars that gave him a legitimate shot at the title in only his first two years, and maybe 2010.

Even 2008 was a close-run thing, and only the 4th time in the last 30 seasons that the DWC didn’t come from the WCC team (HAM 08, HAK 99, MSC 94, PRO 86).

2009 was a write-off season, 2011 a RB walkover, and 2012 the car just wasn’t reliable or consistent enough to mount a title challenge. 2010 he was only close b/c of the RB’s lacking reliability, their Turkey clash, etc.

31

It seems so unfortunately. Then again, with the number of people who do the same thing, but against anything Vettel does, it isn’t that surprising.

32

“But is Vettel 4 WDC’s better than Alonso, Hamilton or Kimi?”

Yes. Kimi bottled his title defense, sadly, and Massa almost won it. Alonso crashed in Fuji to blow the 2007 title, and Hamilton has been in competitive cars for his whole career, except for the first half of 2009. Vettel’s been like his namesake Loeb.

33

“But is Vettel 4 WDC’s better than Alonso, Hamilton or Kimi?”

Of course it is, 4 is greater than 2.

(Olivelawn)

34
Alexander Supertramp

Vettel has been establishing himself as a great, but he will have to answer that question at some point. He will have to partner one of those guys. Wouldn’t mind having Vettel with Mercedes in 2 years..

35

I should have also added that if Vettel wins in Monza, forget it. It’s all but over now but another 25 points for Vettel and 2013 is done and dusted. The rest of the season will therefore be something of a lame duck. What a waste.

36

They should give Vettel’s RB9 to Ricciardo so he can get a bit more experience while Vettel gets Ricciardo’s STR8 to see if he can repeat his 2008 win.

37

I reckon that privately both Ferrari and Mercedes are on the cusp of giving up on 2013. Still, if they can somehow fool Red Bull in to thinking otherwise that might stop Red Bull focussing on 2014 as much as they might otherwise do.

PS. Love the photo! It looks like Alonso and Hamilton are going to walk to the podium, hand-in-hand! Bizarre!

38

Yes that picture is cringeworthy.

39

That’s got to be one of the best photos you’ve chosen so far…

Hamilton: Vettel beat me again.

Alonso: I know.

Hamilton: But he was so fast…

Alonso: I know.

Hamilton: But even in the straight bits…

Alonso: I know.

Hamilton: He overtook me.

Alonso: I know.

Hamilton: Would you hold my hand?

Alonso: Sigh. There there, we’ll get him next time…

40

That is fantastic.. Love this alot. had to share it with Alonso fans I know.. thank you for the laugh

41

lol, I like this ^

I’m amazed no one else has mentioned the photograph that accompanies this article.

That’s surely one of the best photos of Lewis and Alonso *ever*. Ever.

LH: on the 1st lap as well..

FA: love you

LH: love you too man

42

Yes they’ve certainly moved on from their McLaren days.

All the best romances start in difficult circumstances 🙂

43

+100 LOLOLOL…good one…best laughter in the year… was so real..

44

Best post I have seen for ages!

45

JA, the FIA don’t weigh the cars before the race, do they? I mean, before going to the grid, with full tanks.

Back in the days of refueling, the cars were weighed in parc ferme with their first stint fuel onboard, and from those weights, we could tell who’d be stopping first, etc.

It would be interesting to know what the gap in fuel weight is between the Renault-powered cars and the others.

As for Ferrari and Mercedes, I think it’s just talk. They’ll hopefully be able to mix it up with RBR at some tracks, and score some wins, but neither will be able to win consistently to challenge for either championship.

46

No they don’t. Only after the race

47

Well, they should start doing it. It would raise immediate flags if teammates were on significantly different fuel levels.

The FIA should also make public the engine use of every competitor. When an engine has been used, the current mileage racked up on each engine, etc. They could delay release of that updated information until the Friday of the next GP weekend.

48

So we’d get to see what fuel each driver is starting on. If anyone was vastly different from their teammate, that would raise flags.

Would seem to me that it’s a big weight factor for the cars. I’m surprised they don’t weigh the cars before they leave for the grid.

49

“Well, they should start doing it.”

Why?

50

It’ll take either a few DNF’s/low scoring point races, for Alonso or Hamilton (or even Kimi) to have a shout at the WDC. And even then, Vettel can always claw back any loss or deficit as he performs well under pressure (most of the time). Especially after setbacks.

Would like to see Kimi get in the mix. Will all depend on how well this new package works at the remaining races. I feel they have wasted a lot of time with this ‘super’ DRS device. A lot of crucial setup time missed.

Its a long way to go, anything can happen but many fellow fans feel that Seb is more or less on his way to a 4th WDC.

51

Gary Anderson said that lotus should throw that super DRS in the skip.

52

If Gary Anderson says that, they should definitely keep it 🙂

Here is a quote from him pre-season on the McLaren:

‘McLaren finished last year with the fastest car and the new MP4-28 looks like a good improvement on that’.

53

Who said anything about him being psychic.

I was just pulling your leg that if GA says it’s good, then probably the opposite is true. GA and his technical analysis is a bit of hobby horse for me. He rocks up at the pre-season launches, has a quick look at the cars and immediately decides what they have done right, wrong and areas for improvement. He only ever worked for a midfield team and it irks me ,somewhat, that he dismisses the work of the entire R&D team of, say, Ferrari or McLaren etc having only briefly glanced at their master piece of engineering.

Anyway, that’s only my opinion and I am sure others think he is great 🙂

54

Well Gary isn’t psychic. I’d say he has been on the money with his predictions mostly.

55

last year, Mclaren was the fastest car but failed because they had issues.

This year, Mercedes is clearly the fastest car on the field. But they have to make the tyre last to win a race.

Red Bull does not have the advantage like the way they did back in 2010 and 2011 when they could exploit the blown exhaust and flex front wings.

Red bull is only able to stay ahead thanks to a great team. One that provided the fastest pitstop, all round reliability, well thought strategy and of course Sebastian Vettel.

Alonso has definitely ran out of steam. His 2012 campaign cost him too much I guess.

Raikkonen is on form but he is damned by a weak car.

Vettel has the most complete package. He is motivated as ever and the whole team is working in harmony. Looks like the Msian outburst did not cause that much damage after all.

56

Mercedes fastest?! Were you watching Sunday?! They’re 0.5s off of Red Bull per lap.

Fastest over one lap, yes (and not at all tracks; they wouldn’t have scored pole at Spa if it was dry).

But fastest race car is the RB9, there’s simply no doubt. The car is not as deadly as 2011, but it’s better than 2010 b/c of its improved reliability.

57

If the RB9 is better than the RB6, shouldn’t Webber be winning MORE races then he did in 2010 rather than fewer? Shouldn’t he (and/or Vettel) be on pole in every race?

58

@KRB – That’s related to better reliability and consistentcy from the drivers (since 2010) rather than outright speed. The RB9 had the fastest race pace in Malaysia, Bahrain, Canada and Belgium. More weekends of being the fastest than any other team, but not by a long way, at all.

59

RBR, after 11 races in:

2010 – 272 pts

2012 – 312 pts

So yeah, RB9’s better.

Poles do not matter like in the past. What matters is race pace. And the RB9 is clearly the fastest race car in 2013.

Truly, I think better avenues of argument are open to those who claim the moon landings were filmed in a California film set, than trying to argue that RBR hasn’t had the best car over any of the last four seasons.

This is all very Copernicus-versus-the-church stuff.

60

Well, both Lewis and Nico were ahead of the faster Red Bull of Webber!

61

So I guess we should use Button as the reference for the real speed of the 2012 McLaren?

Button was lapped in Canada, while his teammate was winning. Nowhere in Monaco or Valencia. Started 10th in Spain, finished 9th, while his teammate went 24th to 8th.

I guess he would’ve had 5 poles if Hamilton wasn’t in the other McLaren: AUS, MAL, BEL, ITA, BRA.

It’s a silly thing to say. Button and Webber are not elite drivers. Let’s compare how elite drivers do in their respective cars.

62

When using Webber’s name to show the relative pace of the Redbull, maybe we should also include all the issues he’s had this season while sitting next to SV on the grid. for example you could say, “well both Nico and Lewis were ahead of 3-wheel Webber or KERsless Webber or failed-clutch Webber or ECU-bogged Webber or Engine-shut down Webber” or just any Webber RB choose to present to us on any given race day and then you would realize how hollow your comments ring immediately after you ‘ve posted them

It amazes me how naïve SV fans could be to pretend that Webber’s form since multi 2-1 is an indication of how slow he’s been.

63

“Well, both Lewis and Nico were ahead of the faster Red Bull of Webber!”

Yes! Because of a faulty start for Webber.. yet again!

64

Love that picture. Lewis and Fernando holding hands. Who would have though that possible…

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