Toto Wolff has said that Mercedes “must not make the mistake” of thinking themselves favourites for the win in Singapore, given their recent struggles around the Marina Bay circuit.
“No team has ever scored a 1-2 finish [in Singapore] – and with good reason,” Wolff said, referring to the reliability issues that forced both Rosberg and Hamilton respectively to retire from the 2014 and 2015 Singapore Grands Prix. “As we have seen before, it’s a race where a single problem can cascade into many more as the weekend progresses.”
Wolff also acknowledged a greater threat from Mercedes’ rivals this weekend, highlighting how the Marina Bay track “will suit the high-downforce philosophy followed by Red Bull” and also noting Ferrari’s “mighty” performance in last year’s race.
Nico Rosberg also said he regards Singapore as “a Red Bull track”, but added that his “faith…is as high as ever” in himself and the team delivering a strong result:
“I got my second ever podium [in Singapore] back in 2008 but haven’t been up there again since, so the target is to change that on Sunday. Of course, it won’t be easy [but] I approach every weekend aiming to win the race.
“I have faith in the team and my belief in myself is as high as ever.”
But on a weekend where the championship lead swings by just two points to his teammate, it would perhaps be prudent not to bet on Rosberg as the favourite Mercedes driver in Singapore.
Throughout 2016, Rosberg has struggled most in those races when his battle has not just been with Lewis Hamilton but with the other cars around him as well – take Monaco, Canada and Hockenheim, for example. If Red Bull and Ferrari manage to put up a fight this weekend, Rosberg may well find the increased pressure simply too much to control.
Add in to the mix that the Marina Bay Street Circuit is yet another in this latter half of the calendar that plays into Lewis Hamilton’s hands – delivering the Briton two wins in the past, to say the least – it would hardly be surprising to see Rosberg yield up the title ground he gained with his last two victories in Spa and Monza.