Mercedes sounded a little wiser on Thursday about its mysterious performance slump of Singapore. Although just a few days of head-scratching and analysis have passed since arguably the team's worst performance of the 'power unit' era, technical chief Paddy Lowe sounded sure Singapore was the culmination of a multitude of small factors.
Firstly, he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that the W06 is not designed for street tracks like Singapore. "The aero characteristics of our car is for efficiency," Lowe said, "so that's maximum downforce with as little drag as possible. That is why we are so strong on circuits like Suzuka and Spa. And that's why we find tracks where only maximum downforce is required more difficult," he added, explaining that because Red Bull for instance is down on power, they have a completely different approach to car design.
Lowe said Mercedes' designers divide the 19 current circuits into 3 categories: street tracks Monaco and Singapore, high-speed tracks Spa and Monza, and 'the rest'. "We have optimised our car for the rest," he revealed, adding that the second priority is the fastest tracks. "Since wind tunnel time is limited, you have to decide where you put your priorities," said Lowe, who thinks Mercedes also made setup mistakes in Singapore. "Singapore was also our weakest circuit last year," he recalled.
And finally, he thinks top teams Ferrari and Red Bull brought specific upgrade packages to Singapore, while Mercedes did not. At Suzuka, however, the silver-clad team has new front and rear wings and engine cover. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who won in Singapore, said on Thursday that Mercedes' struggle last weekend was a surprise. "It was a big surprise to see Mercedes struggling, which I don't expect to be the case here," he said at Suzuka. "Again, it would be a big surprise." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing