Mercedes were expected to dominate the 2018 Formula 1 season after showing ominous pace during the pre-season tests in Barcelona, and Red Bull were considered their closest challengers, while talks were about Ferrari having taken a step back since last season.
The start of the season has gone against all the predictions; Sebastian Vettel has won the first two races of the season with Ferrari leading Mercedes in the Constructorsâ title battle by ten points.
The first win in Australia was chalked down to luck after a computer glitch for Mercedes, while the second win was because of the team's struggle with their tires in the hot temperatures in Bahrain. The third race is in China on Sunday, a circuit where Mercedes have dominated since 2013.
Vettel and Ferrari ended Mercedesâ six year reign as pole sitters at the Shanghai International Circuit in dominant fashion by making it a Ferrari 1-2. The German is favorite to win his third race of the season and former F1 driversâ world champion Damon Hill believes the tide is turning.
The former Williams driver thinks it could be the dawn of a new era for Ferrari as Mercedes take a step back after dominating the sport for the last four seasons since the start of the V6 Turbo era.
âThis is the turning point," Hill told Sky Sports F1 on Saturday. "For so long we have seen Mercedes dominate. They've had the party mode in Qualifying but now both Ferrari cars are ahead of Mercedes.â
"It certainly does look like the tide has turned for the first time in a long time in this turbo-hybrid era. Ferrari have won the first two races and are in a strong position to win the third,â he said.
Moreover, Hill believes Hamilton could reconsider signing a new long-term contract with Mercedes if he feels their period of dominance is at an end. The Briton made the switch from McLaren to Mercedes at the right time in 2013 and Hill feels he could consider his future if things donât change.
Mercedes and Hamilton have been in talks over a new deal since the end of last season, but are yet to reach an agreement. Both sides have reiterated their commitment to each other and indicated it is just a matter of time before an agreement is reached.
The four-time world champion has always professed his love for F1âs most famous team â Ferrari â and if they are on course to return to the top of the sport and with Vettelâs teammate Kimi Raikkonen out of contract at the end of the season, there could be possibility of the British driver making the switch over to the Maranello based team.
"If this is the start of a new era, then Lewis Hamilton will have to think carefully about whether he signs up to Mercedes for a long-term contract,â he added. "All these racing drivers know they have to be in the coming team and the team that is showing it's going to be the team for the next era.â
"It's like empires rising and falling and maybe Mercedes are on the wane and the new Ferrari era is about to come back."