It’s fair to say Ferrari’s stunning victory in Australia stunned fans around the world; moreover, it likely did a lot more than stun the engineers down at Mercedes.
Although Lewis Hamilton proved the W08 was faster over one lap on Saturday, Ferrari played the patience card when the points were on the table and prevailed due to one key factor, superior tire degradation.
Earlier today, however, German motoring website, Auto Motor Und Sport, has suggested Mercedes struggled with its tires in Australia because their W08 is exceeding the 728kg minimum weight regulation by at least 5kg.
The source hasn’t got any real verification of the problem and is purely speculating.
Hamilton could be heard audibly complaining about the tires throughout the race, notably telling his engineer as early as lap 5, “I’m struggling for grip.”
Following the race, though, this poor degradation was, in my mind, purely put down to setup issues and it would be gone by the time we got to China.
But, this new report is somewhat concerning, as a problem with the overall weight of the car will affect the team at all circuits. Considering the next round in China has sections – such as Turns 1-2-3 and Turn 13 – that is regularly tough on the tires, Australia could’ve only been the tip of the iceberg.
Toto: “We were between a rock and a hard place, really, and we went for it” 💬
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) March 26, 2017
Mercedes haven’t officially released any reasons for the poor degradation and an interview with their chief strategist, James Vowles, also didn’t have any mention of the tire life either.
Hamilton, nonetheless, did confess post-race in Australia: “I was struggling with grip from the get-go.”
Mercedes haven’t commented on the claims made by Auto Motor Und Sport.
The new-found battle between Hamilton and Vettel will continue at the Chinese Grand Prix when it gets underway on the weekend of the 7th to the 9th of April.