Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the team will approach the Singapore Grand Prix this weekend with a “healthy scepticism”, aware that it will be more “a case of damage limitation”.
Lewis Hamilton became the first back-to-back winner of the season last time out in Italy, with an easy victory in his Mercedes lifting him to the top in the F1 2017 Drivers’ Championship, 3 points up on arch rival Sebastian Vettel.
However, the Marina Bay Street Circuit is a very different challenge to Monza, and more likely to suit Vettel’s Ferrari, just like in Monaco and Hungary (where Vettel was victorious).
“We made the most of our opportunity in Monza and it was important to do so because we know Singapore will be more like a case of damage limitation for us,” Wolff confirmed.
“We will approach it with healthy scepticism, leave no stone unturned and aim to deliver every bit of performance that we can.”
“Identifying clearly our strengths and our weaknesses has been a strength of our team in recent seasons,” he added. “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.
“If the team delivers another perfect performance like in Italy that will be a very good starting point.”
Meanwhile, Hamilton says he will go into the event with “a real positive mind-set” and has promised to do “all due diligence” necessary to ensure he does as well as possible.
“Currently [I am not worried about Singapore] that’s not my mind-state, no, and I will do all the due diligence it’s possible to make sure that we arrive there best prepared,” he continued. “We have no idea until we get there what the picture’s going to look like but I think we learned a lot from the past but on a hot track, Ferrari are often better in hot places. I think we’ll be able to give them a good race.
“I think the car is continuing to improve and as I said, our understanding of the car is constantly improving. Perhaps if we went back to Hungary for example, maybe we would be in a better position today with the knowledge of being there already.
“I go and approach it with a real positive mind-set that we are going to be fighting for a win but if that’s not the case when we get there we’ll just take it at face value and try to get damage limitation.”
Picture credit: Mercedes