Red Bull has overtaken Ferrari as the new main challenger for Mercedes in F1.
That is the view of F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, as the great Maranello marque continued to falter at Silverstone.
The new Achilles Heel is the gearbox, with Sebastian Vettel not only outqualified by Red Bull in Britain but demoted on the grid by yet another gearbox problem.
“If we knew that, we would do something about it,” the German driver, when asked about the cause of the recurring problem, said.
“But I don’t think there is a fundamental problem with the car because these problems have only cropped up in the last races. So we need to quickly understand what has changed.”
Not only that, Ferrari is a long way from the leading Mercedes pace this weekend at Silverstone.
Asked why, Vettel said: “It’s a good question but I don’t know the answer. We are losing time in all three sectors, so they simply have a better car on the straights and in the corners.”
Ferrari has new parts at Silverstone, but Vettel explained: “It is a step in the right direction but unfortunately not enough.”
Ecclestone told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he senses a trend in the recent effort of Mercedes’ main rivals to catch up.
“I see Red Bull as the major challenger now,” he said. “I think they will be the biggest challenger in 2017, although for formula one it would be better if it was Ferrari.”
Asked what he thinks Ferrari is doing wrong, Ecclestone answered: “Sergio Marchionne is doing a super job. But he has too many other things he does as well.
“If you want to bring Ferrari back to the top, it’s a 7 day a week, 24 hour a day job. Nothing against Maurizio Arrivabene, but he is a different character to Marchionne.”