Roy The Boy looks ahead to the formula 1 season and he thinks that the early season testing points to Sebastian Vettel winning the title for Ferrari.
Eight days of testing, in Barcelona, are complete and the Formula 1 season is now less than two weeks away.
The testing time-sheets tell us the Ferrari team have designed a car which has adapted to the new regulations better than its rivals. This has come as a revelation to many industry experts, most believed the sleeker, lower and wider car design would play into the hands of the Red Bull team – and their aerodynamicist extraordinaire Adrian Newey – and not overly blunt Mercedes speed advantage which they have enjoyed for three seasons.
It was Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari which was the fastest of all 20 race car/drivers clocking 1min 18.63sec lap. Teammate Sebastian Vettel went .39sec slower while the Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton were 0.67sec and 0.71sec adrift of the chart-topper. These are huge margins and if these test times were grading trials for a greyhound race, the dogs would be three or four grades apart.
So how is Vettel 4/1 and Raikkonen 12/1 for the Driver’s Championship title in 2017? For starters Raikkonen is Ferrari’s No. 2 driver and, as we have seen repeatedly from this team, that means Raikkonen will not be allowed to or is capable of finishing ahead of his teammate. As teammates their season’s points tally has amounted to: 167 vs 55; 278 vs 150 and 212 vs 186. It’s a closed book, so the price differential between them is easily explained.
However, that does not enlighten us as to how the apparently faster Ferrari car can be backed at 4/1 when the No. 1 Mercedes driver, Lewis Hamilton, is even-money. The reason is simple, odds compilers simply do not believe what the testing time-sheets are telling us.
Hamilton’s Mercedes team have been all-conquering since the hybrid 1.6 v6 powered cars came into being and they cannot contemplate that superiority evaporating over the course of a few winter months.
Furthermore we are in familiar territory. 12 months ago the cars headed off to Melbourne with Ferrari looking like the car to beat as it had topped the time-sheets in winter testing. Ultimately it never won a race during the season and the team finished third in the overall constructors standings behind Red Bull.
To quote ESPN’s F1 knowledgeable website: “Testing is not always the best indicator of form, however, as heavier fuel loads and lower engine settings can be used to mask the real pace of a car on a qualifying simulation run.”
However, there are two interesting facts to consider this time around: In 2016 the Ferrari duo were 1,272 miles short of the Mercedes drivers in total testing mileage. This year, with 3,170 miles vs 2,765, the difference is just 405. This indicates the Ferrari is a far more reliable car this time around.
More pertinently it is what the hacks and teams are saying (and not saying) which leads one to believe the Ferrari pace is genuine, Mercedes are not sand-bagging and Red Bull really are eight-tenths of a second a lap slower than the boys in red.
Returning to ESPN: “Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel opted to lift the throttle coming out of the corner on one of his fastest laps, so as not to reveal his ultimate pace to the rest of the paddock on the timing screens.”
It is something the chief protagonists have picked-up on with Hamilton quoted as saying: “I think Ferrari are bluffing and that they are a lot quicker than they are showing. They're very close to us. It's difficult right now to say exactly who is quicker. But they are very close, if not faster.”
Vettel meanwhile has been playing down his apparent speed explaining, with a wry smile on his face: “I think if we can be fighting for the podium in Melbourne it would be great.”
If a game of cat-and-mouse was being played between Ferrari and Mercedes in Barcelona there seems to be little doubt that Red Bull are a clear third in the pecking order and for that reason alone Sebastian Vettel has to be backed for the Championship title at 4/1 each-way. It is surely the proverbial ‘bet-to-nothing’ and one that could be proven to be a guilt-edged investment come next Sunday afternoon.
Sebastian Vettel to win the World Driver’s Championship at 4/1 with Bet365, Paddy Power and Ladbrokes