Leo Turrini, an Italian insider who is close to Ferrari, recently has said in a blog that Mercedes may have been hiding a problem with their engine during preseason testing.
Mercedes engines looked like the class of the field in testing in terms of mileage. A total of 7755 miles were completed between the four Mercedes powered teams. This was over 600 miles more than Ferrari power, and over 6500 miles more than Honda power. The Mercedes works team also completed 3170 miles, 400 miles more than Ferrari managed.
Despite this, Mercedes weren’t bulletproof, with them losing a mornings running on day four of the first test due to an electrical problem.
Turrini claimed that the engine problem, hidden by Mercedes, was linked to the crankshaft, but the problem was not serious. However, this has meant that Mercedes drivers Bottas and Hamilton would have not been pushing during testing. The problem should be fixed by the Australian GP.
The potential fight between Ferrari and Mercedes could be very interesting heading into the new season. Mercedes have become notorious for sandbagging in recent years. This engine problem, plus comments from Bottas and Hamilton saying that Mercedes have yet to unlock the potential with the W08, shows Mercedes have left a lot of time on the table. However, Ferrari have done some sandbagging as well, with Vettel backing off on flying laps during the test. Rivals Red Bull have recently said that Ferrari’s sandbagging tactics were “worrying”.
Both Ferrari and Mercedes have come out to say they are the favourites for the upcoming season, so we will have to wait and see what the pecking order is in Australia next week.