Latest F1 news in brief – Sunday

  • Some think Mercedes has been fast by running low tire pressures all year
    Some think Mercedes has been fast by running low tire pressures all year

    Slow Mercedes baffled but rejects 'conspiracy'

  • Rosberg should consider Mercedes exit – Marko
  • Ricciardo hails Red Bull chassis gains
  • Vettel taken aback by qualifying advantage
  • Button: Vettel pole 'exactly what F1 needs'
  • Hamilton: Tires 'aren't working' for Mercedes

Slow Mercedes baffled but rejects 'conspiracy'
(GMM) As Mercedes' long and dominant form mysteriously disappeared under the Singapore floodlights, it did not take long for the speculation to begin.

Everyone at Marina Bay and beyond could not believe that, just two weeks after the utter domination of Monza, the silver cars are suddenly much slower than Ferrari and Red Bull.

"When I saw Sebastian (Vettel's) time I thought 'What the hell?'" admitted Nico Rosberg after qualifying. "We did not see this coming."

The German admitted that, in the past couple of years of Mercedes' utter domination of the 'power unit' era, the Singapore situation is unprecedented.

"We had a dominant car and now we are one and a half seconds behind. Unbelievable," said Rosberg.

"I just looked at Vettel's onboard lap, and it's like he's in a different category."

Lewis Hamilton, whose shot at equaling hero Ayrton Senna's victory tally on Sunday now appears unlikely, called for Mercedes to look urgently into the matter.

"I don't know really what we've got wrong," said the championship leader.

The early paddock theory is that, having dominated at Monza but only narrowly avoiding disqualification over the tire pressure saga, Mercedes is now struggling for pace as Pirelli strictly enforces the new guidelines.

"These tires for some reason aren't working on our car," Hamilton said in Singapore. "I'm challenging my team to find out what it is, whether it's tire pressures or temperatures or blankets or ride heights, I'm asking."

Team boss Toto Wolff, however, scoffed at rumors Mercedes was only dominating before because it was regularly skating beneath Pirelli's tire pressure guidelines.

"It's no conspiracy. It's paranoia," he insisted. "We didn't do anything dodgy. It was cleared by the FIA. The Pirelli limits were no contributing factor to our performance," Wolff added.

He acknowledged, however, that Mercedes now has crucial work to do to understand the true cause.

"It is not just for the race here, which will be very difficult anyway even though we will give everything, but it is very important that we do not make the same mistakes that we made here in the next weekends," the Austrian said.

Helmut Marko says the hapless Rosberg should quit
Helmut Marko says the hapless Rosberg should quit

Rosberg should consider Mercedes exit – Marko
(GMM) If the balance of power at Mercedes persists, Nico Rosberg should consider leaving the team.

That is the view of Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko, as the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag analyzed whether Rosberg can hit back at the increasingly on-form Lewis Hamilton.

Eddie Jordan, a former F1 team owner and boss and now controversial pundit for British television, has his view.

"As long as Hamilton is there, Rosberg will never win a title," he insisted.

"Nico has neither Lewis' pace or his enormous confidence."

According to Marko, one potential solution for Rosberg is to simply break free from Mercedes, even though his current contract reportedly runs until 2017.

Gerhard Berger suggested the German would be an attractive proposition for a Mercedes rival.

"He must always make it clear that he is the second-fastest driver in the world, as there is no shame in that," said the famous Austrian.

"Nico's situation is similar to mine with Senna," said Berger, who is arguably best known for sharing the McLaren team with the Brazilian legend in the early 90s.

As for Marko's solution, the outspoken Red Bull official explained: "Either Rosberg can pull himself together or he will have to change teams.

"In a fresh, new environment he would naturally have to start again, but that is true also on the mental side as well," he added.

Ricciardo happy with Red Bull chassis gains
Ricciardo happy with Red Bull chassis gains

Ricciardo hails Red Bull chassis gains
Daniel Ricciardo praised Red Bull for the progress it has made with its chassis after qualifying second for the Singapore Grand Prix.

Ricciardo emerged as the closest rival to Sebastian Vettel in Q3, albeit half a second adrift, with team-mate Daniil Kvyat fourth.

Meanwhile, World Champion team Mercedes struggled for pace, leaving Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg back in fifth and sixth.

"Firstly, it's nice to be back up here, on the front row as well – it's been a while," said Ricciardo.

"To have no Mercedes up here is a surprise to everyone; I thought they were playing a few card games yesterday, but it seems that they're not comfortable this weekend.

"It's good to capitalize on that, and tomorrow it would be nice to be back here [in the top three].

"I'm really happy for the team. I think we've made a lot of progress since Silverstone, but for me since Budapest the car has really come alive, and it's nice we can show that here.

"We'll try to hang in there on the long runs tomorrow and make a race of it."

Kvyat echoed Ricciardo's thoughts about Red Bull's chassis and racing with Ferrari.

"I'm happy with today's qualifying. I think it's a good place to start the race tomorrow. Obviously as a driver you always want more, but we'll do our best to get as many points in the race as we can," he said.

"The red cars are looking strong but we will take the fight to them during the race.

"The chassis is behaving really well and the team have done a great job with the car."

Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel

Vettel taken aback by qualifying advantage
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel has admitted that his sizeable advantage during Singapore Grand Prix qualifying came as a surprise.

Vettel posted two times strong enough for pole position in the final phase, and ultimately finished half a second clear of the field.

Vettel starts ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, Ferrari team-mate Kimi Räikk0nen and Daniil Kvyat, with Mercedes back in fifth and sixth.

"I know it's only Saturday, and obviously the main job is coming tomorrow, but I had to enjoy the moment when I heard we made it," said Vettel.

"It was looking pretty good from the offset of quali. The car was fantastic to drive, and it got better through qualifying – I think we did the maximum today.

"I'm surprised by the margin, but I think it just came together; I really had a near perfect lap at the end, so I was very, very happy with the laps I had today, especially the last one.

"Around here, it's such a long tricky lap and so easy to go in too deep or push a little bit too much, but it just seemed to come at the end and I was very happy to make it to the finish line.

"It puts us in a greats place tomorrow, but I'm sure the Mercedes will be quick tomorrow. Everything else will be a surprise. It's already a bit of a surprise, and the Red Bulls of course."

Räikk0nen says he was surprised to finish third after some set-up struggles.

"It's quite a good result for the team today," said Räikk0nen.

"I was not very happy since [the final practice session] this morning for whatever reason, so I'm a bit surprised to be in this position, after how difficult it felt all day.

"Hopefully we can get two cars on the podium tomorrow."

Button - F1 fans tired of the boring Mercedes parades
Button – F1 fans tired of the boring Mercedes parades

Button: Vettel pole 'exactly what F1 needs'
Jenson Button believes that Sebastian Vettel's pole position for this evening's Singapore Grand Prix is "exactly what Formula 1 needs", amid an extended period of Mercedes dominance.

Vettel ended Mercedes' 23-event run in qualifying at Marina Bay with his first pole position in two seasons, as Ferrari and Red Bull both got the better of an off-color Mercedes team.

"Sebastian did a mega job," McLaren-Honda driver Button explained to Sky Sports.

"It's exactly what the sport needs; this weekend is very important for Formula 1.

"You can't take it away from Mercedes, they've done an amazing job, but to see them 1.3 seconds off is good for the sport and probably good for Mercedes because they can see the competition.

"Hopefully it's going to continue, but I'm a little bit unsure!"

Button starts 15th, three places behind team-mate Fernando Alonso.

A baffled blonde haired Lewis Hamilton
A baffled blonde haired Lewis Hamilton

Hamilton: Tires 'aren't working' for Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton complained that his tires "aren't working" after a below-par qualifying performance at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Having struggled throughout free practice, Hamilton could only qualify fifth at Marina Bay, just ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Hamilton says a weekend-long struggle to get heat into both the Super Soft and Soft tire compounds have hindered Mercedes.

"The tires for some reason aren't working on our car – it's weird," said Hamilton, as he reflected on qualifying.

"You heat them up the same as everyone else, you do your warm-up laps same as everyone else, and then you finish the lap, and you see somebody else a second up the road."

Hamilton has not given up hope of fighting for the victory in tomorrow's race, but admits it will be difficult to match the race pace displayed by Ferrari and Red Bull in practice.

"The goal is still to win the race, but it's very hard to overtake here," he explained.

"Another thing is the Red Bulls are incredibly quick over the long runs.

"It is what it is and we will fight as hard as we can. I doubt we're going to find something between now and tomorrow, but if we do, great.

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