Getty Images

Sebastian Vettel: Mercedes still the team to beat despite Ferrari’s pace

1 Comment

Sebastian Vettel believes that Mercedes remains the team to beat in Formula 1 despite Ferrari’s strong showing through pre-season testing.

Mercedes enters 2017 chasing a fourth straight championship double, having claimed the drivers’ and constructors’ crowns every year since 2014.

Even with a change in the technical regulations for the coming season, Mercedes remains the favorite to win both titles ahead of the opening round in Australia on March 26.

Ferrari has impressed through pre-season testing, with Vettel recording the fastest time of the winter on Thursday and having more pace in hand.

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has said that Ferrari is “bluffing”, hiding its pre-season pace, but Vettel played down Ferrari’s showing, stressing that Mercedes is still the team out front.

“I think we’re focusing on our stuff here. It’s important, there’s a lot of stuff on our list,” Vettel said.

“We’re probably still a little bit behind. There’s a lot of stuff to do and a lot of boxes to be ticked. In Melbourne, we’ll see, obviously it’s a very special type of track.

“I think we’ve learned in the past that Barcelona is important, to give an indication. For sure the car is much better than last year because the nature of the formula has changed. So far things are making sense, but it’s still early days.

“If you look at the amount of laps Mercedes has done, historically how slow they were going in the tests, and how much they were able to ramp it up for the races. It’s clear that they are very fast, if you look at their long-run pace, I think they’re the ones to beat.

“It doesn’t really matter where we are now. We are growing, we need to work hard, we know that we had to improve and that’s why I think it’s important not to get distracted right now.”

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
Leave a comment

One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added, “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s gallery and some teaser shots below.