A loss for Mercedes in Singapore may not be so painful

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

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    Red Bull are slowly making their departure from the Formula One scene. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

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    Reigning world champions Mercedes AMG are certainly not getting their hopes high ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, admitting ahead of the race that it will be “more difficult.”

    Having had a tough outing at the Marina Bay street circuit in 2015, which exposed the flaws of the Silvers Arrows architecture – Mercedes AMG have been wary whenever returning to the night race.

    Circuits with high-downforce have tended to show up the deficiencies of the Silver Arrows package in recent years, though it has been of minor concern until now, when a championship is on the line.

    Ferrari, whom triumphed convincingly at the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix, will enter the weekend as favourites – despite having been obliterated at the most recent Italian Grand Prix, which saw Sebastian Vettel relinquish his lead of the standings for the first time in 2017.

    Having a challenger at last, that has been able to consistently trouble Mercedes AMG at these high-downforce venues, has been what has aided Vettel’s cause in the title chase, whilst Lewis Hamilton flexes the muscle of the mighty Merc at the more power sensitive venues.

    Despite stating that they learned from the outcome of 2015, having scraped together a win in 2016 with Nico Rosberg, team boss Toto Wolff remains sceptical of their chances in 2017.

    “Singapore wasn’t the best place for us in the past and we were extremely delighted to win it last year, because we had such a difficult time in 2015,” the Austrian said.

    “I still believe there are certain characteristics of the tracks that suit the car or not, and you can see this year, the slow, twisty circuits have rather suited Red Bull and Ferrari. Lots of high speed downforce was good for our car.

    “Now, I don’t think that’s a pattern you can’t break. It’s about understanding the car and the more we clock mileage the more we learn about it.

    “Nevertheless, I still expect it to be a more difficult weekend for us than Monza, Spa or Silverstone because of those characteristics.”

    With such onus being put on the red team to walk the weekend, there is the expectation for Vettel to regain the lead of the standings – if he is to be the victor for Ferrari.

    A crucial round it is indeed for the Scuderia, with the element of doubt surrounding their championship aspirations being raised after back-to-back defeats at Spa and Monza.

    If their car is truly superior to the W08 EQ Power+ on circuits where downforce is heavily leant upon, then it won’t be just Singapore at which Ferrari must excel; but in Malaysia, Austin and Abu Dhabi too.

    Such was the volume of the victory in Monza, that the power of Mercedes AMG is enough to highlight their presence as a team that can win the championship. To win by more than 30-seconds, exposes how far Ferrari still have to come forward.

    So, despite Toto Wolff’s prediction of Singapore being “more difficult,” for his Silver Arrows, a loss at this race could easily be mitigated over the upcoming events if Ferrari cannot stay on par.