A slightly nervous Mercedes is preparing for this weekend's Russian grand prix. Actually, the usually utterly-dominant German squad can wrap up the 2015 constructors' world championship this weekend at Sochi.
But although the silver cars finished easily first and second at Suzuka, the points gap between Lewis Hamilton's lead and Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari is 59 points -- meaning the German driver is still in the running with five races to go. Not only that, Vettel - although surprisingly - won quite dominantly just over two weeks ago in Singapore, and it is believed Mercedes is still not entirely sure what caused the slump.
"I keep getting asked about that actually," smiled technical boss Paddy Lowe. "It's not a simple answer at the end of the day. We definitely learnt some lessons from that and we still have a lot more to learn."
Niki Lauda, Mercedes' team chairman, admitted to relief after Suzuka that the Brackley team so quickly returned to form, but he has also admitted that he is worried Sochi this weekend could once again expose the W06's weakness.
Mercedes finished one-two in Russia last year, but for the sport's return in 2016, Pirelli has changed its tyre selection and will now offer the two softest tyres -- the same ones that were fitted when Mercedes slumped in Singapore.
And Lowe thinks Pirelli may have been influenced in its choice after Nico Rosberg last year managed to complete "almost the entire race on a single set of tyres". "One year on, the track surface will have weathered differently so we must ensure we have all eventualities covered," he said. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing
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