> German can regain F1 lead in Singapore in his 200th career race
NICO ROSBERG has the chance to regain the Formula One championship lead from teammate Lewis Hamilton in his 200th career race on Sunday at the Singapore Grand Prix which however poses a huge challenge for the Mercedes team.
The silver arrows were comprehensively outclassed by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel 12 months ago at the night race on the Marina Bay Street Circuit, and there are fears that things may look similar this time around – with Red Bull also a threat apart from the Scuderia.
“We go to Singapore with a big challenge ahead of us,” Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff said.
“We have to optimise everything to get a solid result. We didn’t manage it last year and, although we believe we now understand why, only performance on the race track can prove our conclusions right. We are curious and excited to see how it goes.”
Rosberg had a fantastic start into the season with four straight wins but the two-time reigning champion Lewis Hamilton fought back and went top after the 11th race in Hungary.
The Briton also won the next race in Germany but Rosberg has since rebounded and narrowed the gap to two points with top spots in Belgium and Italy.
Now comes Singapore where Hamilton won in 2014 while Rosberg’s best finish, second place, dates back to 2008.
As a result, the German is taking nothing for granted despite seemingly having the momentum on his side, naming Singapore “a race that’s been up and down for me.
“I got my second ever podium there way 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,” Rosberg said.
“The points gap has gone up and down but I’ve taken it one race at a time – and that’s the best way for me, as you can see by how the gap is now.”
Hamilton lost his chance of winning in Italy with a slow start from pole but is not discouraged because of the overall strength of the team.
“Monza didn’t quite go to plan. But when you look at how far we’ve come as a team this season, from the position we were in, then I realise I’m in a phenomenal position,” he said.
Hamilton added he doesn’t expect “an easy breezy drive” given the expected from of Ferrari and Red Bull.
Vettel will hope to end what he has named “a rough season” with a first victory for himself and Ferrari since his top spot there last year.
Vettel also has three Singapore victories from his time at Red Bull who for themselves seek a second season win following Max Verstappen’s surprise success in Spain.
The action in hot and humid conditions starts with two practice sessions today, qualifying is tomorrow and the 15th season race on Sunday.
Results are unpredictable as each race on the narrow and twisty 5.065km course since the 2008 debut has seen the safety car out at least once. – dpa
Nico Rosberg takes the chequered flag at the Italian Grand Prix two weeks ago.