In the wake of the technical failures that have effectively killed off sebastian vettel’s and ferrari’s 2017 title hopes, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff suggests the team may be paying the price for its massive step forward this year.
In Suzuka, Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari broke down and denied Hamilton a straight fight for the win. To this extent, Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff admitted that Mercedes sympathise with Vettel’s situation. Following his engine troubles in Malaysia where he started the race from the very back of the grid, Vettel failed to finish the Japanese GP because of more engine issues.
Ferrari confirmed that a broken spark plug led to Vettel’s DNF on Sunday. The German is now 59 points behind Hamilton in the race for the World title. Hamilton said “He’s been very unfortunate through no fault of his own. I was excited to have a good race with Sebastian here but he’s been incredibly unfortunate.” Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff echoed Hamilton’s sentiments. But he believes that the Maranello squad can get on top of the issues.
Overhauling 59 points in just 4 races is a daunting task indeed. It would take a miracle for Vettel to close the gap. That is, a miracle, 2 non-finishes for Hamilton and 2 wins for Vettel. But seeing the way things are going, that is unlikely to happen. By the looks of it, Hamilton too wishes that he could have had a hammer and tongs battle with Vettel. And how could we forget the Red Bulls being thrown into the mix. Mercedes are aware that the Ferrari has the pace, but the reliability lets it down every time.
And while Mercedes remains the class of the field, there is no doubt that as recently as Singapore the Italian team has given its German rivals a run for their money.
However, the last two races have seen the Maranello outfit suffer issues related to quality control, an area that teams strive to be fully on top of aware that championships have been lost in the past due to a faulty washer or bearing.
Admitting that his team has benefited from these mistakes, Wolff believes Ferrari’s now paying the price of its remarkable rate of progress this year.
“In this sport you take no prisoners,” he said, according to the Daily Telegraph. “It is about having the fastest car, the best driver and the most solid performance.
“We’ve been there,” he continued. “We’ve had difficult moments for each of the drivers in the past in terms of reliability.
“When you’re pushing the boundaries you will eventually reach your limits.Ferrari’s development from 2016 to 2017 was exceptional and probably this is a ‘development’ phase.”
“I can relate to how it feels,” he admits, “that feeling of having had three races where you’ve lost a lot of points. It doesn’t feel nice.
“We’ve benefited from Ferraris’ misfortune and reliability woes in the last three races. But that doesn’t mean that we’re patting ourselves on the back. On the contrary, I think we need to continue to push.”