Jun.7 (GMM) Ferrari’s threat to Mercedes dwindled in Montreal qualifying.
As the championship leaders crunched the numbers after Friday practice, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff admitted Ferrari’s engine upgrade might have closed the gap — and beyond.
“Ferrari is much faster than us in the race simulation,” he had said.
But Ferrari technical boss James Allison warned that Mercedes might have been “hiding their light under a bushel”.
Indeed, while Ferrari’s improvement has been estimated at between 15 and 30hp, a reliability upgrade for Mercedes is believed to have also added power.
Paddock rumours say the fix means Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are now able to safely use another, higher engine ‘mode’.
And in Canada qualifying, Mercedes easily saw off the Ferrari threat, even though Sebastian Vettel’s challenge was ended by a faulty part worth ten euros.
“It doesn’t cost much,” he confirmed to German television, “but it cost me my qualifying.”
So the Ferrari challenge was left to Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified third but six tenths behind Hamilton’s pole.
“On Friday it looked as if Ferrari had made a massive step,” Wolff said after qualifying, “but I think the GPS measurements had disturbed us.
“It did not fit with the laptimes we then saw on Saturday.”
Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda also admitted his relief.
“We are back where we belong: in first and second place with a gap to third. But this race is incredibly hard for the engine and the brakes.
“So let’s wait and see,” he told RTL television.
As for a potential repeat of the strategy blunder that cost Hamilton victory in Monaco, F1 legend Lauda insisted: “That cannot happen again, because we have changed everything.”