Ferrari beat Mercedes on outright pace, say Sky Sports F1 pundits
"Whatever Mercedes did, Ferrari would have beaten them," says Martin Brundle; "Saying it was a strategy mistake misses the point. Ferrari were just quicker today," adds Ted Kravitz
By William Esler
Last Updated: 21/04/15 3:24pm
"We beat them fair and square," declared Sebastian Vettel on the Malaysia GP podium and the Sky Sports F1 pundits agree that Ferrari had a decisive performance advantage over Mercedes at Sepang.
Securing his first win in Ferrari colours, Vettel stopped just twice in Sunday's grand prix while Lewis Hamilton, who finished 10 seconds behind the German, made three visits to the pits.
The Silver Arrows brought both their cars in for a change of tyres during an early Safety Car deployment, forcing them to try and stretch their stints on the hard compound tyre, while Vettel was able to continue to push on the mediums.
However, even despite that apparent strategy faux pas, Martin Brundle does not believe Mercedes had an answer to Sebastian Vettel.
"I can't help but think that whatever Mercedes did today, Ferrari would have beaten them," the Sky F1 pundit concluded.
"They just managed their tyres better and could make the medium compound work, they could make the hard compound work when they needed to and they comfortably two-stopped. How many times did we hear Lewis Hamilton on the radio saying 'my tyres are going, guys'? We never heard any of that from Vettel - he just went and did the perfect two-stop race and Ferrari had the confidence when others came in to just stick with what they knew.
"I think Ferrari won it on pure pace, they had that from the long runs on Friday. When Mercedes went out on the medium compound in Q1, it pretty much showed their hand that they were going to three-stop and that they preferred the hard compound tyre. I think at that point, Ferrari thought 'hang on, we have a great chance here'."
Those sentiments were echoed by Sky F1 reporter Ted Kravitz, who had kept an eye on the strategies from the pitlane.
"Mercedes will say that the Safety Car came at the wrong time for them and that, perhaps, they made the wrong decision from that point, trying to go so long on the stints. But inevitably it is down to the tyres here and Ferrari have made better use," he said.
"But I think even if Mercedes had shadowed Ferrari's strategy of staying out and completing their strategy, they would have had a hard time anyway.
"They beat Mercedes fair and square and I am as guilty as everyone else. Saying it was a strategy mistake from Mercedes misses the point. Ferrari were just quicker today."
The result leaves Vettel just three points behind Hamilton in the drivers’ championship, but Brundle believes Mercedes will have the edge again in China.
"I think what today tells us is that Ferrari are strong on tyre management, so on circuits which are tyre limited like this they will be strong," he added.
"Others where you have to switch the tyre on and heat the tyres up like in China next time out, I think it will be a different story.”