The start of the 2019 F1 season has thrown up a few surprises, but current World Champion Lewis Hamilton believes that his Mercedes team will have to be at the top of their game to help deliver him a sixth championship.
This may come as a surprise since the Silver Arrows delivered a hat-trick of one-two finishes in the opening Grands Prix in Australia, Bahrain, and China.
The main reason behind the champion’s thinking is that in pre-season testing, Ferrari, their closest rivals, seemed to have the upper hand. However, the opening round in Melbourne suggested that the evidence from Barcelona was misleading.
Although teammate Valtteri Bottas pipped Hamilton to the post in that race, the Ferraris trailed in fourth and fifth and gave Mercedes an early edge.
The Italian team bounced back in Bahrain, and debutant Charles Leclerc looked set to win the race only to be let down by his car when he encountered mechanical problems within sight of victory. Hamilton was the grateful winner of the race.
Everyone assumed a serious battle was on the cards when the circus moved to China, but Mercedes were firmly in charge of practice and qualifying. Hamilton described it as a perfect weekend and called on the team to deliver the same again throughout the season.
The full schedule of races can be found on the BBC website.
Ferrari will not take the setbacks lying down, although their season is already being hampered by controversial team orders. Sebastian Vettel is the designated number one, but Leclerc is embarrassing the team by proving faster on the track. The team’s desire to protect Vettel led them to order Leclerc to step aside during the race in Shanghai
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With European races lined up before the teams decamp to Canada in June, the Scuderia will not only have to find extra pace in qualifying but also consistency during the race. The results of the first three races have been disappointing, and if Mercedes heed Hamilton’s call to arms, the season looks bleak for Ferrari.