In Suzuka, Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari broke down and denied Hamilton a straight fight for the win. To this extent, Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff admitted that Mercedes sympathise with Vettel and Ferrari’s plight. Following his engine troubles in Malaysia where he started the race from the very back of the grid, Vettel failed to finish the Japanese GP because of more engine issues.
Ferrari confirmed that a broken spark plug led to Vettel’s DNF on Sunday. The German is now 59 points behind Hamilton in the race for the World title. Hamilton said “He’s been very unfortunate through no fault of his own. I was excited to have a good race with Sebastian here but he’s been incredibly unfortunate.” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff echoed Hamilton’s sentiments. But he believes that the Maranello squad can get on top of the issues.
Wolff said “We can relate to it. The Ferrari guys certainly feel awful at the moment. I get on well with them and with Maurizio and it’s not a situation you want to be in. Maybe it’s the development of the team. They made a huge step forward from 2016 to 2017, their car is super fast – it just lacks reliability and that is the next step.”
Overhauling 59 points in just 4 races is a daunting task indeed. It would take a miracle for Vettel to close the gap. That is, a miracle, 2 non-finishes for Hamilton and 2 wins for Vettel. But seeing the way things are going, that is unlikely to happen. By the looks of it, Hamilton too wishes that he could have had a hammer and tongs battle with Vettel. And how could we forget the Red Bulls being thrown into the mix. Mercedes are aware that the Ferrari has the pace, but the reliability lets it down every time.