Toto Wolff on Sunday said he hopes Ferrari’s breakthrough win stops the “nonsense” talk about equalisation.
After Australia, Red Bull threatened to quit F1 over Mercedes’ huge supremacy amid the current engine regulations, arguing that only artificial “equalisation” mechanisms can fix the sport’s broken show.
But just two weeks later in Malaysia, Sebastian Vettel beat both silver cars in just his second race for a strongly resurgent Ferrari.
“We beat them fair and square,” said the beaming German, even though some suggested it was a strategy error for Mercedes amid the early safety car that contributed.
But Ferrari, already strong in Australia, were neck-and-neck with Mercedes throughout the Sepang weekend, and in crucial ‘long run’ pace even looked marginally better than the reigning world champions from the very beginning in Friday practice.
“Ferrari is back,” Vettel’s engineer told him on the radio.
Melbourne winner and reigning champion Hamilton agreed, privately telling Vettel before the podium ceremony that the red car was “so quick” this weekend.
“Geez, they had some good pace today,” Hamilton told Eddie Jordan on the podium. “They were too fast for us.”
So after all the political talk about ‘equalisation’, defeated Mercedes chief Wolff said it had been a bad day for Mercedes but “a good day for formula one”.
Hamilton said Ferrari’s win will make some unnamed people in the paddock “eat their words”.
“Hopefully all the nonsense about equalisation stops now,” agreed Wolff.
At the very minimum, Ferrari’s success in ‘equalising’ Mercedes’ pace in the conventional manner in Malaysia has dented Red Bull’s political push.
It leaves the energy drink-owned camp needing to patch up its broken relationship with Renault and push forwards.
With Vettel having lapped both Red Bulls on Sunday, Dr Helmut Marko told German television Sky that the team is now working hard to improve hand-in-hand with its engine supplier.
“In Australia there was a lot of emotion,” he said, “but we have now found a way forward. Thank god it has already looked better here.”
But Marko said Red Bull is still looking towards F1’s “stakeholders”, especially after both the team and Renault threatened to quit the sport.
“That is why all the stakeholders, not just Red Bull and Renault but also the FIA and the commercial rights holder (must look at) how a company like Renault can again get the necessary value from F1 that makes sense,” he said.
So he doesn’t think even Ferrari’s victory on Sunday is evidence enough that the controversial engine regulations are actually able to work for the sport.
“Ferrari was very strong here,” admitted Marko, “but they also have a very good car and the tyre wear is very good and Sebastian Vettel loves this track.
“Without doubt they have made a great leap forward with the engine, but under normal circumstances they are still more than half a second away from Mercedes.
“That is not enough,” said Marko. “There is also the high temperatures (in Malaysia) and the specific track, while Mercedes did not find the ideal setup.
“The general balance of power has not yet changed,” he claimed.
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