Ferrari are battling to give Williamsa contest in the early F1 going.
Ferrari are battling to give Williamsa contest in the early F1 going.

We thought it would be closer: Hamilton taunts Ferrari

WORLD champion Lewis Hamilton says Ferrari need to get their act together to prevent the Formula One championship becoming even more of a private Mercedes battle.

The sport's oldest, most successful and glamorous team flattered to deceive again in last weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, while Mercedes celebrated their fourth successive one-two finish.

No season has ever started with such a run.

"We thought it would be a lot closer... but we are delivering on a very, very high percentage," said five-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, who finished second to Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas.

"Both Valtteri and I are both delivering on the laps and the team are pumping on all cylinders and they (Ferrari) are not.

"When, if, they start pumping on all cylinders and start delivering, then we'll have much more of a fight."

Ferrari are 74 points adrift of Mercedes in the constructors' standings while Sebastian Vettel, third in the championship, is 35 behind Bottas.

Up until the second phase of qualifying last weekend, it seemed Ferrari were on it. Charles Leclerc led every practice session and seemed destined for his second pole position in four races.

Can Ferrari reign in Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton?
Can Ferrari reign in Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton?

And then, switching from soft to medium tyres, the Monegasque hit the wall and it all went wrong.

Bottas seized pole instead and led Hamilton to the flag in a race short on drama, with Vettel third and Leclerc fifth, taking the fastest lap as a consolation.

That continued a trend: At the Australia season-opener, Ferrari arrived as favourites after lighting up the timing screens in testing. Neither driver ended up on the podium.

In Bahrain, there was more disappointment when Leclerc led from pole before his engine lost power and he finished third, with fastest lap, and Vettel fifth.

China, where Ferrari had looked sure to use their straight-line speed advantage to telling effect, proved a similar letdown.