Mercedes: Ferrari engine superior but Honda developing faster!

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Mercedes engine chief Andy Cowell has suggested Honda's potential for growth is a bigger threat than Ferrari's current advantage.

Having built their domination on a superior power unit since 2014, the German manufacturer has now been caught with the Italians claiming top performance honours in 2018.

That assumption was then confirmed last year as Ferrari blew their arrivals away on the straights, thanks also in part to a low-drag chassis and Cowell has no issue with admitting Mercedes has fallen behind.

"In terms of out-and-out qualifying performance, Ferrari this year have shown that their car is better, but you don't get points on a Saturday, you get points on a Sunday in terms of finishing the race," he told Motorsport Magazine pointing to how the gap did notably reduce in race mode.

Asked which area he believed Mercedes had lost out to the rivals at Maranello, Cowell admits it could be a range of reasons.

"We work very hard with the team at Brackley to make sure the power unit contributes to the overall car performance," he explained.

"I don't think the architecture is holding us back. Every year we have a very open look at the way the power unit should be laid out.

"A lot of it is determined by the regulations in terms of where you can put the turbocharger - towards the front, sort of split across the crankcase like we have it, or in the back in the transmission.

"Typically, from an aerodynamic perspective, you want to follow the shadow of the drivers' helmet and the crash structures as around that.

"If the Ferrari qualifying performance is all down to crank power than we just need to work harder, we just need to find more crank power for those single laps in qualifying."

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Looking forward, however, the Mercedes boss has more of an eye on Red Bull and Honda, who have closed the huge performance gap to almost zero from just two years ago.

"Honda are the best improvers this year, they're way ahead of Ferrari in terms of development rate," Cowell stated.

"Red Bull can make championship-winning cars, Max Verstappen is formidable and Honda… their investment in what they're doing is huge and their determination is huge.

"And that's showing on track, and you can see that the structure and sound decision-making being done. It's going to be exciting."