Five rounds of Formula One is over in 2019 and little did anyone think that Ferrari would lag behind Mercedes by 94 points. The Italian giants are so far off the pace that it looks seemingly impossible for them to catch the Germans now, with the latter having now locked the 1-2 finish in all of the races so far this season.
For Ferrari fans, this has been a season of epic disappointments. The Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have outmanoeuvred the Ferrari crew of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel at almost every corner, but they have also been tactically outclassed in all of the races. Despite promising pre-season performances, Vettel and Leclerc find themselves almost 50 points behind Hamilton already.
The Ferrari blame game: is it the tactics?
At the very base of it, Ferrari’s poor form seems to stem from the fact that they are indecisive and weak when push comes to shove. Team principal Mattia Binotto had publicly stated that they would favour Vettel over Leclerc in every situation, probably reckoning that the four-time world champion has the guile to pocket another title. However, so far, that decision has only backfired for them.
Vettel had started the Spanish Grand Prix exceedingly well, he was, in fact, ahead of both the Mercedes at one point. However, he braked too late at one turn and ended up flat spotting his tyre to give up the lead. For the rest of the race, Vettel picked up fights with his team and his teammate Leclerc, yielding the third place to Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. The worst part of the race was, however, watching Binotto force an in-form Leclerc to play ball and not chase down Verstappen when he had the chance. It was yet another decision that was not questionable, and could well have cost Mercedes a podium finish.
The Ferrari Blame Game: Is it the car?
So far, Ferrari has had the fastest car only in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Their raw pace has dropped since last year(a rating 100.254 in 2018 compared to 100.530 this year) while Mercedes has roared forward. The Germans had dominated in both free practice and qualifying, and that was obvious once again during Sunday where despite Vettel taking the lead, he was left to bite the dust.
The funny thing is, the issues with the car may boil down to its design. The SF90 did very well in the winter-testing and was even better than the Mercedes. However, the Germans have nailed every decision they have taken so far, and it seems that trend is set for the season.
The Silver Arrows look like they are already running away with the title, and that will bother Ferrari further. They had a car that could go blow for blow Mercedes last season, but this year both their team and their car look busted. As it turns out, success for Ferrari this season seems as elusive as ever and it may just be a couple of one-off wins that they might pick up.