In terms of one lap qualifying pace, Ferrari made a step closer to Mercedes with their new developed engine in Montreal. However, the Brackley outfit appear to have countered by improving their cars’ race pace.
Given hot conditions, and the softer compound tyres in use, Ferrari have matched and even marginally bettered the Mercedes pace on Sunday’s at times this year.
Sergio Marchionne, Ferrari’s new chairman, attended the Canadian GP and made his presence known to the media in the Montreal paddock.
When asked what the priorities were for the Scuderia, Il Padrino replied curtly: “Improvements on the bloody car, that is what we are trying to do.
“We are spending a lot of time making sure that we keep remedying the problems that we knew were inherent in the car.”
Yet Marchionne recognised the developments Mercedes have been making have had an impact of the gap to Ferrari. “I had a long discussions with our team on this, that notwithstanding our understanding of the deficiency to Mercedes, that Mercedes would not stand still. We have seen it here.
“We have seen track performance that was a lot closer to what they were doing in qualifying. They appear to be closing the gap between race performance and qualifying laps”.
“That is something that we knew was coming. To delude ourselves that we could continue to close our gap against a static position is nonsense.
“So we need to work our buns off; and work ever harder given the progress that they have made.”
Of course the new Mercedes engines used by Lewis and Nico was one improved only by applying to the FIA to alter their engine design on the grounds of reliability, cost or safety.
Ferrari by comparison used three of their development tokens and now both teams have seven remaining to the end of the year.
However, TJ13 has learned Mercedes improved race pace was a combination of two factors. Firstly the engines used for the first six races were retired and a new engine deliver more power – even if built to the exact same specification as one that has done several thousand kilometres.
Secondly, Mercedes ran their two power units at a higher output level than they did for the first race of the last engine in Australia. In effect they turned up the ‘limiter’.
The perceived threat from Ferrari forced this decision on the Mercedes management.
Whilst it may be crumbs from the table, but Ferrari can at least be satisfied they are now forcing Mercedes to run at something like full power, and the forty second gap to their nearest rival is more than a healthy margin in hand.