April 8, 2015
Leave your predictions: Ferrari for real?
Everyone and their grandmother has written a piece wondering if Ferrari will be able to repeat the exploit of Malaysia.
The conventional wisdom is no, it was a fluke: that track, the hot temperatures, the safety car, the bad strategy call from Mercedes. China will be much cooler and with 80% of the laps spent cornering, the track will tax front tires more, conventional wisdom says Ferrari's won't be able to switch on the tires and Mercedes will be back to its dominant Australian and pre-season testing form.
But the again, conventional wisdom said Ferrari would not have been able to challenge until well into the season.
What do you think?
Let me add a couple of considerations you may or may not have picked up on:
1. If the F15T is gentle on tires it means it must have balance and a balanced car will give Ferrari the option to play with strategy.
2. Mercedes always planned on stopping early in Malaysia and running more primes. Thy used up all their new option tires in qualifying (used them in Q1 to save primes for the race). Ferrari always planned on running long on option-option-prime.
3. Mercedes' error in Malaysia was stacking the cars in the safety car stop and not splitting the strategies. Why? Because if they pitted just one there would have been endless political issues of favoritism. In China they might have to favor one driver....sorry Nico.
3. Mercedes was indeed faster in the race but Ferrari had a more constant lap times throughout the stints.
4. On the periphery of all this there is this talk of the FIA cracking down on fuel sensor cleverness. It has been speculated that some teams may have figured out how to get around the 100 kg/h limit by allowing an extra volume of fuel to accumulate past the flow sensor bring the braking phase so that it can then be used during the subsequent acceleration. It's a bit of a mystery, it was brought up first on technical sites like F1Analisitecnica.com and then, earlier this week, by Autosport. Will the FIA checks happen? If so, who will be penalized if they gray area is "clarified"? If this is indeed the case, why has it not gotten more play?
So check out the practice time, especially in P2. If you have the F1 app (and it actually works) keep an eye on the long run stints and what tires they are run on.
Then let's see who gets it right!