The Ferrari Formula 1 team have quickly been established as the favorites from winter testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, following various levels of data which currently gives Ferrari a clear advantage. However, as a result of this, the Scuderia are now expected to dominate straight out of the box, given it won’t be long before Mercedes strikes back.
In the Formula 1 paddock, there is an understanding the best case-scenario for Mercedes, they trail the Ferrari F1 team by just 0.1s. However, on the other hand, it is understood that worst case-scenario, when the F1 circus reaches Melbourne, the German outfit could find itself trailing Ferrari by a full second. This number is expected to vary from different race-tracks, which will suit the different concepts employed by the two teams.
Given the large understanding that Ferrari will at least go to Melbourne with the fastest Formula 1 car, there is a great deal of pressure surrounding Ferrari that they must extract maximum points from the opening races to hold a sustainable Formula 1 title bid.
It is a no-brainer that Mercedes will strike back sooner than later. With the resources, drivers and a fully motivated team to defend their crown, the outfit will not sit back even if they have a huge Formula 1 deficit to rivals Ferrari and even Red Bull come Melbourne. In fact, there are rumors circulating in the paddock that Mercedes will employ two different specifications of its car, which will be changed based on the race-track.
It is likely that the Ferrari race team will assume a great level of pressure from world media, and key Ferrari management figures to extract maximum points from the opening races, where they are most likely to have the fastest car, which in simplistic terms translates to victories, podiums, and probably 1-2 finishes.
With this expectation comes a lot of challenges that need to be addressed. The first would be with star driver Sebastian Vettel. The expectations from the German driver are very high coming to 2019, after many blame him for the downfall of Ferrari’s championship bid during the second half of 2018. Given Leclerc is just finding his feet, the expectation at Ferrari is very much that Vettel is the main world championship candidate, and will be expected to show both speed and consistency from the outset, if he is to beat Lewis Hamilton to title glory in a straight fight.
The next challenge that Ferrari could well face very soon is the management of its two drivers. In the past, it has been simple and pain-free with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, with the latter playing a number 2 role throughout the season. While there are high expectations for Charles Leclerc, it could very well be that the two drivers are scrapping it out for victories week in and week out. In this case, sensible management decisions are key from Ferrari. This is where Mattia Binotto’s skills will be tested to the limit, his ability the efficiently manage his two drivers. His management style will be key, as the outfit must avoid a Hamilton/Alonso McLaren-like disaster. However, at the end of the day, Leclerc is no Raikkonen, and if it becomes increasingly clear that he is the clear number 2, it won’t be long until a top team like Mercedes recruits the young Monegasque, given his level of talent.