Motorsport Chief Helmut Marko of Red Bull is wearing his worry on his sleeve as he reflects on Ferrari’s pre-season performance.
Some might contend that a season has never truly started until the first race, but given the events of the 2017 Formula One pre-season tests, one would be easily convinced to argue otherwise. The pre-season tests at Barcelona have been a mad dash from one exciting affair to the next.
One in particular seized the attention of fans and onlookers – Ferrari’s potential sandbagging of their true speed. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel famously lifted off the throttle as he turned the final corner in his lap. While Vettel has remained adamant that he did not voluntarily lift off, the competition believes otherwise:
Ferrari is very strong and reliable as well. That’s the difference to last year. What worries me somewhat is I know Vettel very well.
He provocatively lifted on his fastest lap on the start and finish straight. Everybody could tell. And if you do something like this, then your self-confidence and the knowledge about having a lot more in the car is huge.” – Helmut Marko
Although Vettel may have deliberately laid off of the throttle out of the final turn, his teammate – Kimi Raikkonen – was less shy about showing off his car’s performance. Raikkonen left the penultimate test as the only driver to clock the only time under 1m19s as he took home a blazing 1m18.634s lap time. If Vettel’s slowdown was deliberate, perhaps Kimi didn’t get the memo. Or, keeping in tradition with The Iceman’s demeanor, perhaps he just didn’t give a shit.
Regardless of what the protocol behind the decision was, Ferrari rivals like Red Bull and Mercedes do have a lot to be worried about from after the showing the crimson team is readying up for Melbourne.