CATCHING MERCEDES: Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel (left) poses with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in Bahrain. Will Vettel secure his second race victory for Ferrari at the 2015 Spanish GP? Image: AP / Luca Bruno
BARCELONA, Spain - Mercedes is set for a fight with Ferrari during the 2015 Spanish GP on May 10.
That's the view of Mercedes chairman Niki Lauda, who is certain Mercedes no longer wields a power advantage over resurgent Ferrari.
Lauda said in an interview published by Red Bull: "Ferrari has closed the gap from 2014 to 2015 to zero."
FERRARI POWER BOOST
Lauda added: "I think they increased their engine by about 35kW, so my estimate at the moment is that they have the same engine power as the Mercedes has and now it depends on the car and what the drivers can do."
If that is true, then the speed of in-season development will be especially crucial as the European phase of the 2015 calendar begins in May.
Germany's Bild says Ferrari will use new wings, floor and engine software at Barcelona, which in the Maranello simulator showed a three to four tenths per lap improvement.
Mercedes, meanwhile, has a new floor, brake ducts and front wings in its luggage but for now is sticking with the same engine configuration.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told Sport Bild: "Our engine is as reliable as a Mercedes should be. There will be no new unit in Barcelona."
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel is not sure even a big Barcelona package for the SF15-T will be enough to overtake Mercedes.
Vettel told Welt newspaper: "Mercedes still have the strongest package." He added that Ferrari is trying to diminish its rival's advantage through a series of "small steps".
Vettel explained: "The development arms race always decides the world championship. If you do not improve from the first to the last race, you never win the title, even if you start with clearly the best car."
"We want to catch Mercedes, even if this is a very ambitious goal."
ROSBERG TO BOUNCE BACK
Mercedes' Wolff agrees with Vettel that the team needs to keep improving if it wants to stay in front of Ferrari.
Wolff said: "We take Ferrari as an opponent very seriously, so we will be bringing any sort of update to the car as quickly as possible."
Wolff also said Nico Rosberg will bounce back, even though many observers say team mate Lewis Hamilton already has him firmly under control in 2015.
He said: "Even in 2014 he was often written off and he always came back. So I would be very careful not to say that it will be difficult for him now."
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Formula 1 series.