sandman1347 wrote:The point I'm making is that you can't conclude that one car is faster based on this session. It's a 100% sound point. You seem to want to conclude that the Mercedes is faster and that is a point that simply isn't yet properly supported. You wouldn't have to conclude that Vettel and Bottas are the same pace to come to the conclusion that it's too early to say which car is quicker so I'm not sure your argument there makes sense. You very much can make conclusions about which car is better but it often takes time and perspective. For example, at the time, most people believed the McLaren and Ferrari from 2007 were basically equal but hindsight tells us that's probably not true.
This might be a little off-topic but it's relevant to the discussion so why not write.
None of the Ferrari and McLaren drivers were at the top of their game in 2007. Looking at the individual results, Hamilton was the most consistent driver in the first half of the season and Raikkonen was in the second half.
I maintain that the Ferrari and the McLaren were more or less evenly matched that year. If there was a clear speed advantage, Ferrari would've handily won the title, because McLaren was under constant threat of implosion the moment Hamilton mounted a challenge to Alonso.
Gauging driver performance by their results in the seasons after the one being analyzed is not necessarily accurate. What if Massa in 2007 drove as well as he did in the later parts of 2008? What if Raikkonen had carried his good early form all the way to the end of the season in 2008? What if Alonso had been partnered by Gary Paffett in 2007 as was speculated? Even in 2008 the McLaren was the class of the field in the rain. Raikkonen and especially Massa have never been exceptionally good in the rain, but they were greatly hindered by the Ferrari's behavior in such difficult conditions. When a car with the same Ferrari engine as the main works team embarrassed the red cars at a wet Monza of all places (a race Hamilton would've easily won if not for the strategic blunder), you begin to wonder how much of McLaren's performance in the rain was Hamilton's doing and how much was the car simply being better suited for the job. Raikkonen was having trouble heating the tires in his Ferrari and, guess what, in the rain such problem is exacerbated. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest that there was a flaw in the car's design that allowed for it.
This is also part of the reason why Max Verstappen was able to act tough in last year's Brazilian GP. He might become a multi-champion in the future but I find it hard to believe a teenager would be able to embarrass the field in heavy rain due to skill alone.
I think it's a good shot to assume Mercedes has a slight edge ATM. Hamilton is not invincible, he lost to Button on points and was kept very honest by Rosberg on multiple occasions (which made Rosberg's title deserved in my view), both drivers he was expected to dominate. Now Bottas is just tenths away from him.
Totally disagree with almost everything you've said here. Sure, driver performance can fluctuate but pace is relatively steady (unless you're Kimi). Most drivers see a slight improvement in pace over their first 2-3 years in F1 but then they are relatively steady until they reach the point of decline.
There is absolutely no reason to conclude that the drivers at Ferrari or Mclaren performed poorly in 2007. That is completely false. In fact, they performed quite well and with extreme consistency. There were simply 4 of them all taking wins so no one had a dominant season but that doesn't mean they didn't perform to the best of their abilities at the time. Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen all had 12 podium finishes in a 17 race season and Massa had 10. That's consistency and there were very few significant errors on the part of the drivers that year.
The reason Max came through the field in Brazil was because everyone else was on extremely old and worn tires while Max came in for a fresh set during the safety car period. He had at least 2 seconds a lap in those tires over most of the cars he was passing.
As for Hamilton being "expected to dominate" Button and Rosberg; not sure where that expectation comes from. Both are WDCs and both are very strong. Button has outperformed several strong drivers in identical machinery. In fact, short of Hamilton and Alonso, he has been better than just about all of his teammates and that includes some really good ones. Rosberg has been among the fastest drivers in F1 for years and dominated an aging Michael Schumacher while they were teammates.
Aside from 2011, Hamilton has had the measure of both of them and he has had it without needing even a hint of preferential treatment. Even in 2011, Hamilton was clearly faster than Button. He just fell off the map in the second half of the season (when Vettel was already miles ahead in the championship).
Vettel has a similarly strong track record albeit with a slightly darker blemish in the form of his un-avenged defeat to Ricciardo in 2014. Aside from that though, Vettel has always been stronger than his teammates and he has delivered in the seasons when his car was the best.
The reality though, is that we do not know definitively how Hamilton and Vettel compare to one another and therefore we don't really know how fast these cars are relative to each other (other than the fact that they are close).