Ros­berg’s chance

> Ger­man can re­gain F1 lead in Sin­ga­pore in his 200th ca­reer race

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

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.

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