Its the only question worth asking less than a week from the season opening 2017 F1 Australian GP – Can Ferrari and RedBull bridge the gap to Mercedes in 2017? We know 2 facts so far – Ferrari posted the best lap time at testing last week in Barcelona and it was 3.5 seconds faster than the Barcelona pole lap in 2016. Toto Wolff, boss at Mercedes says he is ‘managing expectations – What we’ve seen from Barcelona is that the margins at the front of the field have shrunk’. But have they? Mercedes have a habit of not showing their hand until qualifying on the first Saturday and are favorites by bookmakers to take pole in AUS.
What is more interesting is the second fact we learned from testing. The best lap being 3.5 seconds fastest than 2016 times. That is a huge amount. Remember seeing Hamilton breeze past a Marussia last year like they were in a different class? that is the same lap time difference. We are looking at perhaps the biggest regulation changes for the last 10 years in terms of time differences, and with that comes opportunity. Opportunity for Ferrari and RedBull to bridge that rather large gap to the Silver Arrows. The new 2017 regulations play heavily on Aero with the cars notably wider and more aggressive.
The answer to the question? Really only one way to find out. Race Day. Sunday. As Wolff said himself ‘its when the flag drops that the bull**** really stops.’