Having proved almost unbeatable in the first 18 months of F1’s new engine era, Mercedes were outpaced by both Ferrari and Red Bull at Marina Bay, with Sebastian Vettel claiming an impressive win to suggest he could yet trouble Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the battle for the world championship. “But we are still the same team that has won so many races, still the same auto, same drivers, so the confidence is there. Maybe it was that our vehicle didn’t get slower but that others upgraded theirs”.
Ferrari victor Sebastian Vettel got the fright of his life when he spotted the man as he came around a corner.
“I’m not confident, because my engineers have not yet been able to give me any information on why we were struggling”, said the points leader.
Hamilton and his Mercedes team, who have dominated Formula One for the best part of two seasons, left the night race confused by their bizarrely lacklustre showing.
Hamilton is 41 points clear of team-mate Nico Rosberg, who crossed the line in fourth on Sunday, with Vettel eight points further back.
There have been a number of conspiracy theories about what happened, including that Mercedes were given different types of tyres than other teams.
Asked if the team had yet got their head round exactly what had gone wrong, Wolff replied: “No, but we also need to stay calm because it’s a very specific circuit”. Was Mercedes’ Singapore slump a blip or something more serious? “I’ve never seen it. I don’t think so”. “I’m very chilled about Singapore“, he said. Sometimes there are going to be situations like that, but I am hoping that we have learned from that weekend and it won’t happen again.
“In what at the moment should be a dry race, I’d still go with Hamilton, who should be back on top”.
Like Hamilton, Rosberg puts Suzuka high on his list of favourite venues and, despite acknowledging the sombre overtones that the first anniversary of Jules Bianchi’s crash will bring to the event, is looking forward to returning. Nonetheless, Mercedes has less to worry about as the auto is still the same as before.
“The majority of them believe at least one of the many solutions or reasons they have come up with had a domino effect, so I am confident it has been understood”. That’s what I’m aiming for anyway, it’s so small that it just takes Lewis to have a bit of a worse weekend and me to have a bit of a better one and then it will be enough to turn it around.