A trio of well-known F1 figures has questioned whether Ferrari can keep up its new winning form.
Sebastian Vettel stunned the Sepang paddock by winning on merit last Sunday, despite the Italian team’s only recently-ended period of turmoil, and the apparent continuing dominance of reigning world champions Mercedes.
But Mika Hakkinen, a retired former two-time champion, thinks the tyres played a major role in Malaysia.
“The compounds selected by Pirelli for Malaysia were much better suited to the Ferrari than the Mercedes,” he said in his latest interview for Hermes.
“Ferrari will not be a serious threat to Mercedes in every race,” Hakkinen predicts, “but at any rate we are not going to see Mercedes dominate in the same way they did last season.”
Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko also thinks Ferrari has made obvious gains in the area of its V6 ‘power unit’.
“That is the main reason,” he told the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.
“But also the high temperatures in Malaysia, the types of tyres and the race tactics all fitted together just perfectly.”
Marko added: “I would not say that Ferrari will be as strong everywhere else as they were in Malaysia.
“Sepang is also one of Vettel’s favourite tracks — last year, it was the only place he was clearly faster than (Daniel) Ricciardo.”
And Valtteri Bottas, a Mercedes-powered Williams driver, also warned that Ferrari’s Sepang form should not be taken too seriously.
“You have to take into account that the conditions in Malaysia were extreme,” he told the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.
“It was so hot, and Ferrari seemed to be much better than anyone else in this weather in controlling the tyre degradation.
“Let’s see what they do in China,” Bottas added. (GMM)