Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have admitted they were very worried by their lack of speed in the Singapore Grand Prix, and said there was no guarantee that Mercedes would become dominant again in Japan this weekend.
Mercedes believe privately that their poor form was due to the sweltering temperatures and the twisty nature of the Marina Bay track, but neither of their drivers exuded confidence as they prepared for the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday.
Hamilton’s retirement because of a car failure, combined with Sebastian Vettel’s comfortable win,enabled the German to close the gap in the drivers’ championship, in which he lies third, to 49 points with six races to go. Rosberg is 41 points adrift of Hamilton.
The nature of Suzuka, with its fast, flowing corners and cooler tem-peratures, should theoretically suit Mercedes. But, asked if he was confident the team’s problems in Singapore were a one-off, Hamilton said last night: “I don’t have any confidence. I don’t have any information to give me that confidence. I’m hoping it’s a one-off but it’s a very, very strange weekend to say the least.
“Our car has not got slower. Some other people might have brought an upgrade package. But that doesn’t explain it. I told my engineers I would like some information about what they think it was.”
At their factory in Brackley, Mercedes have been working to understand how they could lose nearly 1.5 seconds a lap relative to the opposition at one track.
Rosberg, who finished fourth on Sunday, was dumbfounded by his deficit.
He said: “To be so far off the pace all of a sudden and to not understand it, it’s really bad, because then how are we going to improve it? This race is very worrying.”
Meanwhile, a British man has been charged with committing a “rash act” after wandering on to the track during the Singapore Grand Prix.
Yogvitam Pravin Dhokia, 27, stumbled across the circuit at Esplanade Drive, where the cars accelerate towards 180mph, before trying to take a picture of Vettel as he sped past. He then jumped across another barrier.
Dhokia could not afford bail of pounds 7,000. His passport has been confiscated and he will appear in court again on Oct 6. He could face six months in prison or a hefty fine.