Vettel’s Monaco win makes Mercedes feel like underdogs

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Sebastian Vettel of Germany beating Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen of Finland to victory in the recent Formula One Grand Prix de Monaco 2017 has made the Mercedes AMG team made up of Lewis Hamilton of the United Kingdom and Valtteri Bottas also of Finland feel and look like real underdogs.

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Vettel now leads by 25 points over Hamilton, who finished a distant seventh. Daniel Ricciardo of Australia completed the podium for Red Bull.

For Ferrari, the race marked a big step toward not only the drivers’ championship, but also the constructors, as they move back ahead of Mercedes AMG with 196 points to 179. Monaco was their first 1-2 finish since Germany in 2010.

When asked by F1.com if Mercedes AMG is now the underdog, team boss Toto Wolff answered in the affirmative.

“Ha, I like the notion of underdog – as people always feel for the underdog win! Probably we have been since the beginning of the season. We are dropping in and out of the tire window. We never had both cars over a race weekend within that window. We have seen an exceptional performance from Valtteri in Sochi, but weren’t able to replicate that on Lewis’s car,” he said, referring to the challenges posed by the wider tires that teams are mandated to use in the current F1 season.

“And we have seen an exceptional performance from Lewis in Barcelona – but not on Valtteri’s car. And it’s been going on like that the whole season so far. So yes, we are the underdog, and yes, we need to catch up – that is the reality at this very moment,” Wolff added.

Ferrari takes monaco after 16 years
The recent win of Ferrari at Monaco was the first for the Prancing Horse in 16 years. However, it was German drivers who triumphed there for Ferrari in 10 of the last 24 races, with three-time winner Nico Rosberg and five-time winner Michael Schumacher among them. Vettel now has two victories at Monaco.

Vettel’s win at Monaco, however, was somehow clouded with controversy as teammate Raikkonen also had the chance to steal the victory. The German driver dismisses such even as his teammate looked unhappy at the podium rites.

“No, but I have heard that he was [Raikkonen] rather unhappy. And I can understand it, because the other way around it would be the same. But the plan was always that the car in front would pit first – and that is what happened. It was simply not foreseeable that the other way around was the better solution,” he told F1.com.

For rival Mercedes AMG, the team believes Hamilton’s seventh place finish in Monaco was the best result the former champion could have hoped for after a poor qualifying consigned him to 13th at the starting grid.

“I might not have won the race – it was kind of boring at the start and at the end when you can’t overtake – but the middle part where I was in clear air I really enjoyed,” Hamilton said.

Mercedes AMG’s overall lack of speed in Monaco was highlighted by the failure of Bottas’s to make the podium, despite starting third at the grid in front of the two Red Bulls. The Finn eventually finished fourth as he was unable to find an answer to Ricciardo’s mid-race pace.

“It was particularly difficult because we were stuck between a rock and a hard place,” Wolff said. “We had to cover Max [Verstappen of Red Bull] who was posting some really quick sectors and at the same time Valtteri was going slower and slower.”

“He [Bottas] lost half a second in the middle sector and he said the tires were gone. Unfortunately Daniel pulled out some amazing laps afterwards – 16’s dead – and so that was it,” he added.

THE TIMES

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