Following the reset of aerodynamic rules over the winter, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton are locked at the head of the Drivers’ Championship after the season’s opening two rounds, while the two teams are separated by one point in the constructors’ chase.
Ahead of a Bahrain GP weekend in which Mercedes and Ferrari are poised to battle at the front again, Sky Sports F1 will lift the lid on the two cars behind the engrossing battle during build-up to Qualifying on Saturday and the Grand Prix itself on Sunday.
New signing Pat Symonds, the former Williams and Renault technical chief, joins Ted Kravitz at the SkyPad for the first of two graphics-led analysis features over the weekend comparing and contrasting the two championship-leading cars. How has the gap closed after three dominant Mercedes years?
“What we’re looking at is the first couple of races, plus Friday’s practice sessions in Bahrain, which have shown we’ve got a battle between Mercedes and Ferrari,” said Symonds.
Ted and Pat will then be back at the SkyPad on Sunday in the Race Show to pay particular attention to the Ferrari SF16-H.
Sunday’s Grand Prix build-up begins at 2.30pm with the Bahrain GP underway at 4pm.
“We examine the differences between the two cars and their different design philosophies,” adds Symonds.
Without a world title for nearly a decade, few had tipped Ferrari for a genuine title challenge this year after completing their second winless season in three years in 2016.
However, under the stewardship of former engine chief Mattia Binotto since the departure of the highly-regarded James Allison last summer, the new SF70-H has performed impressively since the start of testing and Symonds says the Italian deserves lots of credit.
“He’s done a fantastic job and much to our surprise,” said Symonds. “We all know how good James Allison was and I certainly said it was a mistake for Ferrari to let James go. But this guy has come along, he’s an engine man, but they seem to have a superb chassis.
“Us Brits sometimes talk about can the Italians organise their racing team – he’s organised it. He’s a revelation, he’s done a super job.”