There are still 17 races to go in this Formula 1 season, but already it is hard to see how Ferrari can make a fight of the championship.
Mercedes have taken four one-two finishes at the start of a season for the first time in history, and while it is true that, as their team boss Toto Wolff says, those raw statistics “flatter” his team, Ferrari do not look in any real condition to seriously threaten them.
The record Mercedes have beaten was set by Williams in 1992, and the bizarre thing about it is that Nigel Mansell’s famous FW14B had a massively greater advantage over its rivals than the car Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton are driving.
This Mercedes has been, on balance, the fastest car this season, of that there is no doubt. But in 1992, Williams’ average qualifying advantage over the next fastest car after four races was 1.2 seconds. Mercedes’ is only 0.246secs.
What is really making the difference this year is that Mercedes – as a collective – are operating at a level out of reach of their rivals.
As Hamilton put it: “As a team we’re firing on all cylinders; they’re not.” Or in Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel’s words: “We have the tools, we just need to put the package together. I don’t think our car is slow. The Mercedes is very fast but it seems easier for them to click, us a bit more difficult.”