Mercedes wary of Ferrari in title fight
By Mat Coch
Tuesday 26th September, 2023 - 6:42pm
Mercedes is wary of the threat posed by Ferrari as the two teams fight for second place in the constructors’ championship.
While Red Bull won the title with Max Verstappen’s victory at the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend, just 20 points split Mercedes in second from Ferrari in third.
Formula 1 pays out prize money based on the finishing order of the constructors’ championship with the difference from second to third worth north of $10 million.
In Suzuka, Ferrari out-scored its Brackley-based rivals by four points after Charles Leclerc finished fourth and Carlos Sainz sixth.
“It’s difficult to know because this has been an unusual track; we’ve not performed well, they brought an update,” said Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’s director of trackside engineering, on Sunday night in Japan.
Heading into Sunday’s race, Mercedes was tipped to rise from its qualifying positions and mount a challenge to McLaren for the final podium place.
High tyre wear meant that didn’t happen, an uncharacteristic outcome from a car that has on balance looked after its rubber better than most.
Ferrari did have a new floor in Suzuka, featuring revised fences, edge, midfloor and diffuser.
“The floor topology has been revised focusing on losses management and load distribution, which translates into a car efficiency increase,” said its submission to the FIA.
How significant that is remains to be seen, but on evidence of that one event alone, it was a step forward.
Ferrari has tended to struggle with higher degradation than its rivals for much of the season.
“There’s sort of too many variables to really work out exactly where they sit,” Shovlin ventured of Ferrari’s relative performance on Sunday.
“We’re looking at things that we can do in the next few races to try and bring a bit of performance.
“I think it’s going to be tight, but I’d rather be 20 points ahead than 20 points behind,” he added of the battle for second.
“Fundamentally, it’ll be how much performance can we bring.
“The quickest car will win over the next six races, or whatever we’ve got remaining, so we need to try and make ourselves the quicker of those two.”