Formula One champ Hamilton taunts battling Ferrari

World champion Lewis Hamilton says Ferrari need to get their act together to prevent the Formula One championship becoming even more of a private Mercedes battle.

The sport's oldest, most successful and glamorous team flattered to deceive again in last weekend's Azerbaijan Grand Prix, while Mercedes celebrated their fourth successive one-two finish.

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says Ferrari need to get their act together.Credit:AP

No season has ever started with such a run.

"We thought it would be a lot closer … but we are delivering on a very, very high percentage," said five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who finished second to Finnish teammate Valtteri Bottas.

"Both Valtteri and I are both delivering on the laps and the team are pumping on all cylinders and they [Ferrari] are not," he added.

"When, if, they start pumping on all cylinders and start delivering, then we'll have much more of a fight."

Ferrari are 74 points adrift of Mercedes in the constructors' standings while Sebastian Vettel, third in the championship, is 35 behind Bottas.

Up until the second phase of qualifying, it seemed Ferrari were on it. Charles Leclerc led every practice session and seemed destined for his second pole position in four races.

And then, switching from soft to medium tyres, the Monegasque hit the wall and it all went wrong.

Bottas seized pole instead and led Hamilton to the flag in a race short on drama, with Vettel third and Leclerc fifth, taking the fastest lap as a consolation.

That continued a trend: At the Australia season-opener, Ferrari arrived as favourites after lighting up the timing screens in testing. Neither driver ended up on the podium.

In Bahrain, there was more disappointment when Leclerc led from pole before his engine lost power and he finished third, with the fastest lap, and Vettel fifth.

China, where Ferrari had looked sure to use their straight-line speed advantage to telling effect, proved a similar letdown.

Hamilton, with two wins and two second places but a point behind Bottas because of the Finn's fastest lap in Australia, suggested his performance had been below his best.

"I just struggle here," said the Briton.

"This is not our strongest race of the season. This has always been a bit of a difficult race for me.

"If both [their] cars delivered as we delivered, and their drivers delivered as we delivered, I think it would have been a lot closer."

Vettel, despite having won four titles in a row with a dominant Red Bull between 2010-13, said it had all become a bit boring.

"So boring. It's not just four races. It has been four years, more or less," the German told reporters.

"We are pushing as hard as we can. But you need to respect that they are doing phenomenally well and getting their cars most of the time in the right place.

"But I'm confident. I believe in this team and I know we can improve. I think we have a good car. We just haven't managed yet to put it always where it belongs."

Reuters

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