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GP Week : Issue 228
Mercedes' lack of pace in singapore came as a bolt from the blue, with neither Lewis hamilton nor Nico Rosberg looking threatening throughout the weekend. Hamilton, who had secured seven consecutive pole positions prior to Singapore, couldn't come within a second of Sebastian Vettel's best effort on Saturday. In the race he only hung on to the Ferrari's coat tail when the German was saving his tyres. It's left the reigning world champions scratching their heads and set conspiratorial chins wagging in the paddock. While some are quick to write the weekend off as an isolated incident, others have questioned whether the change in minimum tyre pressures played a part on Mercedes' lack of pace. With only a narrow operating window, getting the tyres in the correct temperature range is critical to acheiving good a lap time. "Tobesofaroffthepaceallofa sudden and to not understand it, it's really bad, because then how are we going to improve it," pondered Nico Rosberg after the race. Unusually, the front of the race featured Ferrari and Renault engined cars, not the Mercedes powered teams which have been the norm. It was a point that wasn't missed by Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff. "I have seen that the other teams like Williams and Force India who have been on an upward slope didn't perform well today," he agreed. “Of course, the engine characteristics in the power department has an influence on how the car performs but I would say it is the least contributing factor today to our performance. When you look at the on-boards it is an overall lack of grip compared to the ones who are faster.” Winding the clock back to Malaysia, where temperatures were similarly hot to those in Singapore, Ferrari was again strong. But in that instance Mercedes remained in the hunt, which they most certainly not not around the Singapore streets. In Monza both Mercedes and Ferrari introduced revised engines, with the Ferrari now reported to have the same power output as the Merc. That places the emphasis on the chassis, and on the evidence of Singapore it was clear Ferrari won that particular battle. “I’m challenging my team to find out what it is where we’ve lost time," said Lewis Hamilton. "Whether it’s in tyre pressures, temperatures of blankets, ride heights. I’m challenging everyone to find out.” "We just hope at the next track it will come towards us again, and the chances are extremely good because at all other tracks we've been so fast," added Rosberg. "Today is very worrying, because we don't know why it's like that and so who knows if it will continue at the next race." Sources from rival teams have suggested to GPWeek Technical Editor Paolo Filisetti that they feel the new minimum tyre pressures have played against Mercedes. If that's the case, and with Vettel trailing Hamilton by 49 points, it sets up an enthralling championship battle as the season enters its final phase. 32 GPWEEK.com // 32 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> SINGAPORE PARTNERS: has mercedes lost its edge?