Entering the second half of the season with the lead in both the drivers and constructors championships, Ferrari looks to be in a strong position. Rivals Mercedes-Benz have faltered for a variety of reasons in the past few races, while Red Bull sees even itself as only there to pick up the pieces as things stand.
What is it that has put Ferrari at the front? In addition to the superb driving skills of Sebastian Vettel, who is ably backed up by the more than competent Kimi Raikkonen, many observes and F1 folk believe that the Ferrari engine is now the benchmark powerplant. For many seasons it has been clear that Mercedes has had the edge, but this is no longer the case.
Improvements throughout the power unit, and especially – it is believed by observers – in the area of the turbochargers has led to a power increase for Ferrari, and the overall driveability of the engine is also impressive. This is the belief of many people within the paddock, not lease Red Bull team chief Christian Horner.
Indeed, the Red Bull b-team Toro Rosso, now using Honda engines, has fallen behind after an impressive start to the season, and now fears that other teams using the Ferrari powerplant – especially the impressive Haas outfit and the increasingly competitive Saubers – will make it hard for them to catch.
While the 2018 title fight is set to go down to the wire, rumours continue to swirl as to Ferrari’s driver line up for 2019. Charles Leclerc, the young man from Monaco currently doing great things at Sauber, is reported in some quarters to have signed a contract to race for Ferrari next season in place of Raikkonen, yet this remains unconfirmed.
Raikkonen, a favourite with the fans, is variously said to be heading back to rallying after this season, or has also been linked with a possible seat at the struggling McLaren team, where his no-nonsense and non-political stance would make him an ideal choice should Fernando Alonso choose to leave the team at the end of the season.