Fer­rari pounce on Mercedes mis­takes


TIMES AP di­min­ish­ing re­turns,’’ he says. ‘‘If you have a fan­tas­tic pack­age like Mercedes have had through­out this hy­brid era, if it’s clos­ing in on be­ing per­fect, then there’s nowhere to go, so that’s why I think the oth­ers are catch­ing them up.’’

Fer­rari’s per­for­mance in clos­ing the gap this sea­son is also down to the rel­a­tive sta­bil­ity of the reg­u­la­tions this sea­son from last. Brun­dle be­lieves that there have been no sig­nif­i­cant changes to ei­ther team over the win­ter, just tin­ker­ing and tweak­ing, bring­ing the teams closer to­gether.

So while Fer­rari un­doubt­edly have a fast car, the feel­ing is that they won the first races through Mercedes’ mis­man­age­ment rather than sheer pace.

‘‘We have so many races nowa­days, it’s a long, long way,’’ Vet­tel says. ‘‘At this point it’s non­sense to even be think­ing about where you might be [at the end of the year].’’

Hamil­ton ac­knowl­edges that Mercedes have been caught on the back foot, but has wel­comed it as a wake-up call for the team.

‘‘I don’t think it’s a bad thing that we have wake-up calls within the group,’’ the 33-year-old says. ‘‘I still be­lieve we are the best team.’’

Se­bas­tian Vet­tel is chas­ing his third straight win to­day at the Chi­nese Grand Prix.

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