Lets be honest, no one really understands the reason for the fluctuation in form over the first 3 races, so it wouldn't at all be surprising to see Ferrari surge ahead again in the next couple of races.
I think the DNA of the cars hasn't really fundamentally changed from past seasons. The Merc doesn't really like the rear-limited Bahrain circuit too much, they struggled a bit with rear grip there, and China has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for Merc, being front-limited (article from 4 days ago):
Who’s looking good for the win?
Once again, it’s hard to see past Lewis Hamilton. The Shanghai International Circuit is one of those tracks that Hamilton just clicks with, the Brit’s five wins here the same as his record at Silverstone, Monza, the Circuit of The Americas and Suzuka (albeit behind his six at Montreal and the Hungaroring).
He’s backed up by Mercedes’ fantastic record in China in recent years. Nico Rosberg took the Silver Arrows’ first modern-day victory here in 2012, while from 2014-2017, no other team was on the top step. Daniel Ricciardo ruined that little run with his dramatic victory in 2018, but that was largely thanks to the timing of the Safety Car allowing sixth-place Ricciardo to duck into the pits while leader Valtteri Bottas – who had had the measure of Hamilton all weekend and was looking good for the win to continue Mercedes’ streak – missed the window and had to stay out on his old rubber.
Ferrari certainly look to be the second best on paper coming into the weekend in China. But with their recent horsepower gains appearing to have put the fear into Mercedes’ Toto Wolff – who recently claimed that the Scuderia’s power was unmatched by anyone else – we’re expecting a fantastic battle between the two, with Red Bull (despite Ricciardo’s win for them last year) the victory outsiders.
How each team handles their tyres on a front-limited circuit will be key.
Overall, the cars look pretty evenly matched right now, with different strengths and weaknesses. So it's pretty much the circuit, in conjunction with who does the best job on the setup front on any given weekend, that determines the order in terms of pure pace.
Edited by beachdrifter, 14 April 2019 - 16:36.