The Ferrari downfall coincides with the appointment of Sebastian Vettel in 2015 after the German won four straight Championships with Red Bull from 2010-13 in a supremely fast auto under the guidance of race engineer Adrian Newey.
After the first of the double-header races in Russia, Sebastian Vettel admitted that he was surprised by the team's loss of pace as he qualified more than half a second off the pole position occupied by the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas.
The team itself hasn't helped out matters and when 2017 posed a genuine title challenge, they slipped up, with Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton taking advantage and winning the Championship yet again. "I definitely hadn't anticipated that Ferrari would tail off as they have". He was quick off the line and had passed the Toro Rosso's of Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley by the time he was into the esses to take sixth and the Haas of Romain Grosjean fell swiftly afterwards. The latter though did face pressure from Verstappen but did not succumb finishing a 1-2 for Mercedes, second time in a row.
"I can't wait to unleash this beast in Austin", he added, pointing at his vehicle.
Lewis Hamilton hoped this year's title fight would go down to the final race of the season after relishing his head-to-head battle with Sebastian Vettel in 2018.
Vettel was left wondering what might have been after a ruining an electric start with an ill-advised attempt to duck inside Verstappen at turn 13.
"Knowing that obviously he closes and we don't make the corner, then, no, you don't do it again. I gave him enough space".
"And he chose to go around the outside, he could have waited for me to understeer wide. That's probably the end of his championship".
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"When we were having the race like Monza - for me, I loved that race".
The second Force India of Esteban Ocon came in ninth with Renault's Carlos Sainz Jr 10th.
Under braking, Vettel barged into the side of Verstappen's Red Bull before spinning round in a flurry of sparks.
Verstappen was given a five second penalty for an incident with Raikkonen where he clashed with the Ferrari as he rejoined after running off at the chicane. "But I also felt that we were faster". "But I don't think there was an very bad big gap". I wasn't desperate to get past.
"I got through the whole field without any trouble".
Verstappen saw it differently, naturally. "Do you ask him whether he should think twice when he defends?" he said.
"He drove into the side of my vehicle". The result opened up the gap between the pair to 67 points with four races left. I don't regret the move, obviously with that outcome you would do it differently because with hindsight it's always easy. "Obviously with that outcome you would do it differently". The Ferrari was mostly alongside entering the corner, only for the two to collide. Clearly, Ferrari doesn't think so, deciding to keep Vettel for next season and replacing the elder statesman in Kimi Raikkonen with the hugely inexperienced Charles Leclerc.
"So I don't know why I got a penalty".
Verstappen though was unrepentant and called his penalty "stupid".
With Mercedes hitting peak form after shaky moments of their own during the season, Hamilton says F1's reigning champions have played their part in Ferrari's faltering form.