Wolff, Hamilton sure Ferrari have speed edge on Mercedes after Monaco

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Lewis Hamilton and Toto Wolff believe Ferrari holds a pace advantage over Mercedes after claiming a 1-2 finish at the Monaco Grand Prix.

The two teams have been virtually identical throughout 2017, but in Monte Carlo, the Scuderia clearly had the better package as the world champions struggled for the right set-up to meet the challenge of the street circuit.

The end result was while Sebastian Vettel took the checkered flag ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas finished fourth and Hamilton seventh, after a shock Q2 exit in qualifying.

"Ferrari seems to work everywhere, so these next 14 races will be very, very difficult,” Hamilton said contemplating his fight for the championship having fallen 25 points behind the German.

"They've had probably the strongest car all year, a bit like our car last year where it just worked everywhere.

"This car currently is not working every single race we go to but the more races we do, the more we learn and the stronger we get.

"We still came away from here with some points. We know that the Ferraris are not bulletproof, they've got things potentially coming up - all the [engine components] they've used or potentially used, so we'll see."

Ferrari's first 1-2 in Monaco since 2001 also saw the Italian team take the lead in the Constructors' championship by 17 points and left Wolff claiming his Mercedes team was now no longer expected to win every race.

"I like the notion of an underdog because the underdog is who people obviously want to see win," the Mercedes motorsport boss said.

"As a matter of fact, I think we have been since the beginning of the season.”

The biggest issue Mercedes has faced this season is maximising the performance of the wider Pirelli tyres, with building up and then maintaining the optimum temperature a real struggle.

“We have been dropping in and out of the tyre window. We never had two drivers or two cars within that window,” the Austrian claimed.

"We have seen an exceptional performance of Valtteri in Sochi which we were not able to replicate on Lewis' car, we have seen an exceptional performance of Lewis in Barcelona and that inconsistency has been following through the season.

"And on the opposite side, Ferrari put the car on the track in Barcelona and were quick from the get go, so yes, we are the underdog, yes we need to catch up. This is the reality of it at the moment."

Elsewhere, Wolff was quoted as claiming there was an "Italian mystery" regarding the tyre situation, perhaps suggesting Ferrari and Pirelli had worked together on the 2017 tyres.

That was vigorously denied by the tyre supplier, however, with President Tronchetti Provera telling Italy's Rai TV: “The tyres are the same for everyone.

"Perhaps Mercedes, have been used to lots of success and now face an uphill task, but they will come back. However, with engineers that have worked like a team, Ferrari has done something that no-one expected. You have to give them credit and you have to be satisfied by the work of an Italian team."

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