Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is expecting that Ferrari and Red Bull will both be very strong at Singapore this weekend. Mercedes' 2017 challenger, the W08, has proven itself to be a handful around tight and twisting circuits such as the upcoming race around Marina Bay.
In 2015, Mercedes suffered from a shocking and unexpected slump at the race, dropping to fifth and sixth in qualifying and bringing home just twelve points. With Ferrari turning up in 2017 with a car to match the pace of Mercedes and the ability to be faster on tight circuits, Wolff understands that the Silver Arrows need to be wary of their rivals.
"Identifying clearly our strengths and our weaknesses has been a strength of our team in recent seasons," he said."As we have pushed to become better and stronger in every area, we have put the finger in the wound in order to understand the root causes of both our good performances and the bad ones.
"In 2015, Singapore provided us with one of the most painful experiences in recent seasons, so we rolled up the sleeves, learned from it and managed to bounce back with a great win last year. But notwithstanding that success, this is a circuit we have found difficult to master with its combination of short, sharp corners, relatively short straights and bumpy surface. And we head to Asia this time round with the expectation that we have a big challenge ahead of us."
With Singapore being a street circuit, the chances of a safety car being deployed is very high. In every race that has been held at Singapore, the safety car has been deployed - leading Wolff to state the strategy will play a vital role in the outcome of Sunday's Grand Prix.
"Singapore is a fantastic showcase for our sport and a unique spectacle under the lights. But it's a demanding weekend for the teams: the ambient conditions make life in the garage tough, it's physically demanding for the drivers and challenging for the cars in terms of managing brake and tyre temperatures.
Safety Car periods are almost guaranteed, so there are lots of variables to consider on strategy. It's a weekend when every part of the team needs to be at its best if you wish to score a strong finish. We will aim to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and finish strongly."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing