Phillip Horton  |    |   1  |  6 August 2018

Lewis Hamilton insists Ferrari have the upper hand in 2018

Lewis Hamilton has insisted that Ferrari has the upper hand in terms of pace in 2018, but has praised Mercedes for doing a better job than its rivals.

Mercedes and Ferrari have battled for overall honours through the first half of the season, trading the lead of the Constructors’ Championship, with the situation replicated in the Drivers’ battle.

Mercedes has taken six poles to Ferrari’s five, with Hamilton and Vettel equal on acquiring a quintet of one-lap efforts, while Hamilton (and in turn Mercedes) edge the win charts five-four.

Hamilton holds a 24-point advantage over Vettel while Mercedes is just 10 clear of Ferrari in the Constructors’ battle, the situation finely poised heading towards the second half of the year.

“This year we all know that Ferrari really do have the upper hand pace-wise,” said Hamilton.

“But I think all around, performance-wise, in terms of strategy and… you know, because to win a championship is not just about speed.

“It’s about how you manage things, the strategy calls you make, mistakes, all these different things all weigh up. 

“I think, as a whole, we have hopefully done a slightly better job up until now. 

“So, we’ve got work to do, we’ve got things to improve, we’ve got performance to bring moving forwards. 

“We’ve got to try and catch them – but we’ve got to continue to keep rising with all the other elements, which allows us to beat the Ferraris when they don’t bring their A game.”

Where Mercedes stole a march on Ferrari…

On several occasions this year Mercedes has got the upper hand on rival Ferrari and turned around a potentially negative situation.

In Azerbaijan Vettel was poised for victory until Valtteri Bottas jumped him with a late pit stop, and still had an opportunity to triumph until a late lunge into Turn 1 backfired. A puncture robbed Bottas of a certain win but Hamilton picked up the pieces to take top spot.

In Germany an inspired drive and strategic call from Hamilton lifted him from 14th into first spot, aided by a sequence of mid-race showers and the Safety Car period caused by Vettel’s exit.

Ferrari was expected to triumph in Hungary but the wet weather in qualifying played into Hamilton’s hands, who ultimately controlled proceedings from the front as Vettel’s hopes of hunting him down were thwarted.

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing…

Hamilton was set for a dominant win in Australia but Mercedes miscalculated his VSC window and a neutralisation phase enabled Vettel to in effect make a free stop to retain a lead that he did not relinquish. 

In China Mercedes did not pit Hamilton under the Safety Car, keeping him out on worn tyres, while a double whammy skewered its hopes in Austria as blunder of not stopping under the VSC was compounded by a double failure to finish as a rare bout of unreliability struck the W09s.

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