- Malaysian GP - Race
Allison explains Ferrari win and why a repeat will be toughLaurence Edmondson in Sepang March 29, 2015 « Penalty points for Maldonado and Force India pair | Being lapped by Vettel hurts - Ricciardo »
Ferrari technical director James Allison is not convinced his team will be able to repeat its Malaysian Grand Prix performance at the next round in China in two weeks' time.
On Sunday, Ferrari won its first F1 race since the Spanish Grand Prix in 2013 and the first with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel. Allison believes the Ferrari was genuinely quicker than rivals Mercedes in the hot conditions in Malaysia, but with a return to lower temperatures in China a repeat victory will be a big challenge.
"I only know one half of the equation, which is our car," Allison said when asked to compare Ferrari with Mercedes. "I know we have a pretty decent cooling package for which a lot of credit needs to go to the cooling team in the wind tunnel and also in the drawing office, who have put together a fairly innovative package on our car. That allows us to operate even in these fierce temperatures without having to open our car up badly.
"The track is quite rough and hot, which is hard for tyres, and we are fortunate that the car goes quite well on its tyres. Quite what problems are being carried on the other side of the equation in Merc-land, I don't know, but I'm fairly sure that we will have our work cut out in China to do anything like as impressive a job as we have done here."
Mercedes struggled with a higher rate of tyre degradation than Ferrari, but while Allison believes Ferrari had the edge on race pace, he is not so sure Vettel would have beaten Hamilton without the opportunity to get ahead of the Mercedes under the safety car.
"I think we probably were a wee bit quicker than them in the race, but you saw when Mercedes was behind the traffic that they got stuck behind, which were 1.5s slower than them, they found it hard to get past.
"So if you are a 0.1s or 0.2s quicker, which is maybe what we were, then that's super hard to turn into an overtake and super hard to turn into an overtake on two cars; they [Mercedes] would have had the opportunity to split their strategy and at least beat us with one. The safety car presented us the opportunity to get past them in a relatively painless way."
Allison said the result in Melbourne two weeks ago was slightly skewed in Mercedes favour, but did warn his rivals that his team has more in the pipeline.
"In Melbourne Mercedes were very, very dominant, but even in free air we couldn't have held a candle to them in Melbourne. There's a lot of work for us to do before we can come to a race weekend confident that we can hunt for victory from the first session of the weekend. But we do have an exciting development programme and we've got a lot of performance to bring."
Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1