Red Bull are fast catching them. Mercedes are well on their way ahead. Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc are competing among themselves. What on earth is going on with the Scuderia Ferrari stable in their apparently failing bid to catch a team that’s already setting new milestones on the grid?
As if their five back-to-back race wins weren’t enough to explain the predicament of Mattia Binotto’s team, it now appears there’s more to Mercedes’ qualifying pace than meets the eye.
Wondering why’s that? Well, it’s pure pace, what else? Let’s rewind back to the post-Spanish GP-Test at Barcelona where a little-known Nikita Mazepin emerged right on top during a run that had drivers of the class and substance of Charles Leclerc and Kimi Raikkonen.
While the likes of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc grabbed a fourth and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi could only manage five, the Russian driver Mazepin came out of nowhere to surprise those who were in attendance.
There’s no other way to put it, right?
In setting the fastest time at the scorching heat at Barcelona at 1:15:775, the likes of Ferrari, Scuderia Toro Rosso, and Alfa Romeo were found wanting in front of W10’s stellar show, which would earn appreciation from a familiar paddock-figure called Helmut Marko.
While surely expert opinion may seem sound if it comes from the likes of Martin Brundle, 158 race-starts vis-a-vis Helmut Marko’s 1, the latter cannot be taken any lightly one-bit following Nikita Mazepin’s performance at Barcelona.
The Austrian was quoted as saying:
“What surprised me was that Mercedes didn’t even try to hide it and didn’t prevent Mazepin from setting the best time of the day, so the superiority is very clear now.”
The Formula 1 season rolls into Monaco next, and while the streets of Monte Carlo are usually seen as a great leveler, Marko warned to expect Mercedes to be even more dominant than they have been during their five-consecutive one-two’s so far this season.
“Although the Mercedes has the longest wheelbase, their advantage there will be even bigger,” he claimed.
“They’re true traction monsters and that’s the nuts and bolts of Monaco. We’ve found something.”
To that end, are Totto’s Wolves going to get in the hunt among themselves all the way down to the 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix or are we going to see someone barge in before its too late? Nonetheless, well done Nikita Mazepin!