Lewis Hamilton sits atop of the F1 standings and the Mercedes man is reaping the benefits of his partnership with Valtteri Bottas.
That is the opinion of two-time World Drivers’ Championship winner Mika Hakkinen, who says Sebastian Vettel has suffered due to some of Ferrari’s “strange decisions”.
Lewis Hamilton leads the way with six races to go having extended his lead at the summit of the standings to 40 points at the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Brit delivered a superb weekend of driving at the Marina Bay Street Circuit and will be eager to push on for a fifth F1 title this season.
Vettel and Ferrari, meanwhile, are wondering where things have gone wrong for them given the obvious quality of their car.
Hakkinen, who knows all about performing at the top end of the grid, has now offered his take on why Mercedes are beating their rivals.
“Sunday was a big step for Lewis Hamilton towards winning this year’s World Championship, and for everyone expecting Mercedes to have a tough weekend at the Singapore track, the result underlined the big improvements the team has made to its car in terms of traction in lower-speed corners,” Hakkinen told Unibet.
“I have said before that the Mercedes cars have been balanced on a fine edge at times in terms of set-up, but the team has clearly worked very hard on improving all areas of performance.
“Even though Ferrari seems to have the fastest car, Mercedes’ ability to get the best performance out of their package, combined with good strategy and team work, is continuing to give them the advantage.
“The Hamilton partnership with Valtteri Bottas works well, and the team is in a very strong position as a result.
“Hamilton’s pole position lap was very impressive to watch, and I am not very surprised to see how happy he was afterwards.
“When you hit each corner apex the way you want, carry the speed you need to get a quick exit, suddenly the whole lap can flow together in a way that is very satisfying.
“Naturally everyone commented on this pole position lap, but I think Max Verstappen’s performance to put the Red Bull second on the grid, and only 0.3s behind Hamilton, was also very impressive.
“Considering that the Red Bull does not have the engine performance of the Mercedes, this was a really good effort.
“I had the feeling going into this race that Hamilton was in good shape, because Verstappen would struggle to compete on straight line speed, and Ferrari were having another messy weekend.
“So it was no surprise that he delivered a strong race performance and took the victory; in extending his World Championship lead to 40 points gives Sebastian Vettel a lot of work to do if he is to challenge for the title in the remaining six Grands Prix
“Ferrari should really be leading this Championship, but there have been too many mistakes, and some strange decisions.
“Vettel’s little accident during Friday practice upset the rhythm at the start of the weekend, for example.
“They seemed to recover ok, as Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were first and second in final practice.
“However, this made it even more difficult to understand their decision to take some risks with tyre choice during Q2 in qualifying and that contributed to Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen not having the same build up to the final qualifying runs in Q1.
“Ferrari is making life hard for itself at times.”
Hamilton and Vettel will resume their battle when F1 returns to Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix next weekend.