After taking back to back wins in Belgium and Monza, the Mercedes F1 team now look to Singapore to make it three in a row.
However, while the last two tracks suited their car, the Singapore venue may not be as kind to the boys from Brackley with memories from 2015 still fresh in their minds. They struggled through the entire weekend with Lewis Hamilton retiring and Nico Rosberg not able to muster any more than a fourth placed finish.
Despite turning that around in 2016 and taking the victory, team boss Toto Wolff is refusing to go into this coming weekend blindly believing that they will continue to dominate, especially with the strong challenge presented by Ferrari all season long.
Here he discusses the coming weekend, the challenges and where they will come from…
“Identifying clearly our strengths and our weaknesses has been a strength of our team in recent seasons. As we have pushed to become better and stronger in every area, we have put the finger in the wound in order to understand the root causes of both our good performances and the bad ones. In 2015, Singapore provided us with one of the most painful experiences in recent seasons, so we rolled up the sleeves, learned from it and managed to bounce back with a great win last year. But notwithstanding that success, this is a circuit we have found difficult to master with its combination of short, sharp corners, relatively short straights and bumpy surface. And we head to Asia this time round with the expectation that we have a big challenge ahead of us.
So far this year, we have seen the pendulum swing according to circuit type. On the surface, Singapore is the kind of circuit that should favour both Ferrari and Red Bull. Both have shown strong performance on low-speed circuits demanding maximum downforce, and we have found life more difficult at those places in 2017. Sometimes, characteristics like this are simply in the DNA of a car. Nevertheless we learned a lot from our struggles in Monaco, raised our level of performance significantly in Hungary and we have made good progress in understanding what we need to do in order to get the most from the chassis.
Singapore is a fantastic showcase for our sport and a unique spectacle under the lights. But it’s a demanding weekend for the teams: the ambient conditions make life in the garage tough, it’s physically demanding for the drivers and challenging for the cars in terms of managing brake and tyre temperatures. Safety Car periods are almost guaranteed, so there are lots of variables to consider on strategy. It’s a weekend when every part of the team needs to be at its best if you wish to score a strong finish. We will aim to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and finish strongly.”