Chinese Grand Prix 2015: Lewis Hamilton takes pole but still fears threat of Ferrari

Hamilton starts from pole having edged out his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg

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Ferrari came up short in the battle with Mercedes for qualifying supremacy at today’s Chinese Brand Prix, Lewis Hamilton taking his 41st pole position and his third of the season. But even Ferrari being considered a threat to the hitherto unbeatable Anglo-German cars following Sebastian Vettel’s win in Malaysia is another big step forward for the Prancing Horse.

Hamilton was almost a second faster than Vettel, who will line up third on the grid behind Nico Rosberg in the other Mercedes. However, Hamilton spoke of the tough fight he expected, not just against his team-mate but also Vettel.

“Game on, Ferrari. Bring it on!” Rosberg had said in Malaysia. And Ferrari will. They have an extra £68m to get the job done after years in the wilderness. And the pedigree of the man juggling all the technical aspects – Briton James Allison – is impeccable. At Lotus he made a massive contribution to rebuilding the team after the Singapore GP Crashgate scandal, and he also helped the them win races with Kimi Raikkonen in 2012 and 2013.

 

Allison is driven, ambitious and competitive but remains self-effacing. He is Ferrari’s first technical director to have control over both chassis and engine development since the great Mauro Forghieri in the 60s and 70s, and his remit embraces changing the working culture and repairing morale.

He said: “I was lucky enough to spend time working for Ross Brawn and saw in him a technical manager who didn’t try to involve himself in the minutiae but was very skilful at picking people for key roles, for allocating the resources that the team had in a way that was likely to bring most performance for the least spend, and was good about leaving people space to work in.

“But equally he was ready to step in if he saw things going wrong.That was a tremendous lesson working under a guy like that. I try to make my own pale reflection of the way I saw him work – but  honestly, whether a team is good or not depends on massively  more than who the technical  director is.”

Allison went back to Ferrari in 2013, and the latest car is the first on which his true influence has been felt. A refocused Ferrari team will be very dangerous in the months to come, and that can only benefit the sport.

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