Motor racing: What's the 'trick' on Ferrari's car that Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton claimed after Belgian GP?

Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot, Belgium - August 26, 2018 Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel celebrates on the podium after winning the race while Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton looks on
Spa-Francorchamps, Stavelot, Belgium - August 26, 2018 Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel celebrates on the podium after winning the race while Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton looks on Reuters

While the Singapore Grand Prix 2018 is only three weeks away, the leader of drivers' championship Lewis Hamilton says his team needs to match the "tricks" that helped Ferrari and his top rival Sebastian Vettel to clinch the victory in 2018 Belgian Grand Prix.

Even though Hamilton took the pole position after the qualifiers on Saturday, August 25 during the opening lap Vettel surpassed the British F1 driver at the Kemmel straight. "He drove past me like I wasn't even there," Hamilton said.

After the collision between McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Sauber's Charles Leclerc in the initial stage, the German driver Vettel survived a subsequent safety car restart and maximized the lead by 11 seconds from Hamilton. In terms of the drivers' championship points, after the win over the Briton, Vettel has grabbed 214, only 17 points behind Hamilton, who has 231.

However, the race track drama started after all the three top drivers crossed the finish line and were asked a few questions by the anchor. When Hamilton had the opportunity to talk about the race, he said on camera that Ferrari was aided by "a few trick things on the car" that enabled Vettel to pass him like a breeze on the straight.

The 2018 car of Ferrari was under several investigations and required clarifications over the campaign. The hybrid system of the car was also examined by FIA and they declared that it is legal.

Later, when Hamilton was asked to clarify his comments on Ferrari car during the post-race press conference, he said, "We all have trick things on our car. The trick is just a word for something special. I don't know what's on their car so I couldn't tell you either way."

In addition, he also told the media, "I'm not saying they are doing anything illegal. It's just something that brings that extra bit of performance. They just outperformed us today. There are things they might have on the car that we don't have and vice versa and we've got to find out what and improve on that."

While comparing himself with Vettel's performance during Belgian GP, the Mercedes driver said "In both stints, he had a little bit more pace than me. Towards the end of the first stint I seemed to be closing a little bit, able to match him, but in the end, it made no sense [to push] - he was doing times I wasn't able to equal."

This is the first time in the post-2013 hybrid era when the four-time Constructors' Championship winners, Mercedes does not have the best car, compared to the rivals Ferrari.

Toto Wolff, the Mercedes boss said that when "you are outperformed on track, you look at yourself, and then you look at your competitors. If you can't find an explanation then you imagine all the nasty things," and that is human nature.

"I haven't got any information but I have faith in the [Formula One's governing body] FIA. They are on top of things that control every team. As far as I am concerned the FIA are doing the right things," he further added.

Wolff insisted that the Ferrari engine also had an advantage and "We have seen that yesterday in qualifying. It is at various parts of the straight, even if the exits are worse than ours, they keep pulling." But, he also added that Spa-Francorchamps was always "a bit of a tricky one for us in the past as well. Monza was a good one, so I am very curious to see how it is going to go to Monza."

"Last year we were very much in control of the whole weekend. Ferrari had their worst weekend of the whole season performance-wise. I am not worried. I think we should still address the opportunities that exist within our car where we need to optimise and only that will make us win the championship."

However, as reported by BBC, the 33-year-old Hamilton said even though this season is definitely the hardest and going to be tougher, he trusts on "my guys but these next string of races are going to be really telling. The next two or three races will show if they are going to sustain this high performance or it is going to be more tooth and nail."

The next race will take place on Sunday, September 2 at Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Italy and soon after that Singapore will get ready to witness the rivalry of the year at Marina Bay Street Circuit.

This article was first published on August 28, 2018