NEW AND IMPROVED: Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel has lead the Italian team's resurgence in 2015. Image: AP / Kamran Jebreili
LONDON, England - Mercedes was surprised by Ferrari's 2015 resurgence, according to 1997 Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve.
In Australia the reigning Mercedes team seemed to have maintained or even extended its 2014 dominance by easily driving to a 1-2 but then, in Malaysia, Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel won on merit.
FERRARI PUSHING HARD
Villeneuve told France's Auto Hebdo: "It seems that, having achieved success, Mercedes relaxed a little. I think Mercedes didn't believe anybody could catch up, not realising the situation had changed."
Pirelli Tyres' F1 chief Paul Hembery, however, said Mercedes was not alone in being caught unaware by the level of Ferrari's resurgence.
"It was a surprise to any F1 expert," he told Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper. "You couldn't sense it in the winter tests, or even in Australia," Hembery added. "By Malaysia I think Mercedes realised it would have to work a little harder."
Whether Ferrari's Vettel has a red car good enough to challenge for the title, however, remains unclear so it might be left to on-form 2014 champion Lewis Hamilton's team mate Nico Rosberg to up his game and put some more spice into the 2015 title battle.
MONEY ON HAMILTON
Villeneuve said: "Victory would help him return to his previous form. Nico needs to start winning as soon as possible."
Williams' Felipe Massa, however, says he would put his money firmly on Hamilton. "In 2014 it was difficult to be sure (who would win)," the Brazilian told UOL Esporte, "but in 2015 Hamilton is stronger in every way than Rosberg.
"We've seen a few squabbles but mostly on the psychological side, which shows Rosberg is suffering more than Hamilton.
"F1 is 100%about the detail."
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Formula 1 season.