first_img Facebook Share on Facebook Twitter Motor sport Share on Messenger They were exceptional runs, but while they celebrated Mercedes were scratching their heads as to why so they were so far off the pace. Valtteri Bottas in third and Hamilton were a half-second back. The Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo were in fifth and sixth, tenths of a second down.Mercedes had difficulty switching tyres on throughout the session, only coming to life with Hamilton’s quick lap in the second round on soft rubber. Struggling for temperature, Hamilton suffered from oversteer, a lack of grip and balance, leaving him perplexed and concerned.“I’m not really thinking about the Ferrari‚” he said. “I am trying to understand why we do not have the pace. Their car is working everywhere.”Toto Wolff, the Mercedes principal, acknowledged the problem. “We’re lacking grip. You can fall out of the window by the tyres getting too hot or being too cold,” he said. “We expect the track temperatures to be much warmer on Sunday and we hope that we have anticipated that change in the right way with the set-up.”In contrast, the Ferraris have looked balanced and worked their tyres well regardless of conditions, a huge advantage especially through the long corners in Shanghai. Vettel described his lap as unbelievable but while the German expects a closer race on Sunday, he had not expected to enjoy such superiority.“The first three races have been a bit different now,” he said. “The tracks are quite different to each other and to have that much of a gap is a bit of a surprise.”What will be of special concern to Mercedes is that Ferrari have now had the advantage on two different types of track, in differing conditions. In Shanghai, Ferrari were comfortably on top at a circuit that Mercedes have considered their own. They have been on pole in China in every race since 2012 and have won all of them since the turbo-hybrid era began in 2014. Maintaining that record will be a tough task but Hamilton’s title defence is beginning to look even tougher. Share on Twitter Lewis Hamilton Since you’re here… … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Pinterest The two Renaults of Nico Hülkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr were in seventh and ninth respectively, with the Force India of Sergio Pérez in eighth and Romain Grosjean in the Haas in 10th.The Haas of Kevin Magnussen was in 11th in front of Esteban Ocon in the Force India. The McLarens of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were in 13th and 14th with Brendon Hartley’s Toro Rosso in 15th.The two Williams of Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll were knocked out in the third round in 16th and 18th respectively. Pierre Gasly after a fourth place in Bahrain was in 17th. Sauber’s Charles Leclerc and Marcus Ericsson were in 19th and 20th. news Sebastian Vettel celebrates taking pole in his Ferrari. Photograph: Steven Tee/LAT Images/Rex/Shutterstock Share on WhatsApp Sebastian Vettel The Observer Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks. Formula One 2018 Support The Guardian Topics Lewis Hamilton has been insistent that he would face a stern threat from Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in defending his Formula One world championship. In China, the real scale of that task became clear for the first time.Regardless of whether the Briton manages to manufacture an unlikely win from fourth on the grid in Shanghai, with Vettel having taken pole, Ferrari’s strengths and some worrying Mercedes weaknesses are all too clear. Hamilton has an immense fight in front of him, perhaps the toughest of his career.Hamilton went to China optimistic that he could begin the fightback with a win. Instead he may find himself once again merely trying to minimise the points damage.“I don’t know if we can challenge, we’re half a second behind,” he said. “Honestly I can’t tell if we can challenge. We were quicker in the last race but they were able to hold on. They will probably do the same on Sunday. I’m confident I can stay where I am. Moving forward is going to be tough. The start is my opportunity.”No driver has gone on to lose the world championship after winning the first three grands prix and Vettel has already taken the flag in Australia and Bahrain. His performance and Ferrari’s advantage in China suggest he is position to make it three and build on the 17-point lead he has over Hamilton.The Ferrari had been quicker in the heat of Bahrain and in the low temperatures on Saturday in Shanghai it was once again the class car in the field. Vettel’s final run was one of the best, an inch-perfect lap, establishing a track record of 1min 31.095sec. He had to be in top form because he was battling an inspired performance from his team-mate, Kimi Räikkönen, whom he beat by eight-hundredths of a second. Formula One Share on Pinterest Reuse this contentlast_img

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *