Just three points separate Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship with just five races of the season remaining, and the team hope this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka will be unaffected by reliability after Rosberg’s retirement in Singapore two weeks ago.
Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff insists the team have to solve the reliability issues that have affected both Hamilton and Rosberg in 2014, and hopes neither are affected by them for the remainder of the season as they fight each other for the championship.
“Singapore was a bittersweet event for the team, with both of our drivers producing strong performances throughout the weekend but only one leaving with the result he deserved on Sunday,” said Wolff. “Whilst it was good to see the pace of our car used to full effect by Lewis in the race, Nico’s problems left us under no illusions that our reliability must improve.
“With five races to go and three points separating Lewis and Nico, it is now a straight fight between the two of them and each will be looking to gain the first advantage in Suzuka, one of the best driver’s circuits in the sport. We are also now entering arguably the most intense phase of the racing season: the final quarter. Inside the team, motivation is stronger now than at any point so far this year. Every single one of us wants to finish 2014 in style.”
Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe expressed his delight at Hamilton’s win in Singapore but also his disappointment with Rosberg’s problematic race, and insists the team are working hard to eliminate the reliability issues that have blighted their season.
“We left Singapore with mixed emotions,” insisted Lowe. “Lewis produced a fantastic drive in difficult circumstances with the safety car to take a great victory. Credit must go to the team in terms of the strategy – which was bold but absolutely the right call. It demanded a lot from Lewis in terms of his performance in the final phase of the race – but as always he delivered faultlessly.
“On the other side of the garage, it was very disappointing to have lost Nico’s car in Singapore. This was down to the failure of a part, which we have been running faultlessly since its introduction six years ago, and so demonstrates the challenge of ensuring reliability in a modern Formula One car. Clearly, this is an area in which we need to perform a lot better in the future. Reliability is something we have been working on intensively over the past 12 months and we will redouble our efforts moving forwards.”
Lowe hopes the Suzuka track offers the opportunity to have a good result for both drivers, and believes the Japanese circuit should be an advantage to the team.
“Now, we look ahead to Suzuka,” said Lowe. “It’s a fantastic track – unique in its figure-of-eight configuration with some spectacular corners, and a very well liked circuit amongst the drivers. It demands the utmost skill from the driver in order to get the right lines – particularly through the ‘S’ Curves – and good all-round performance from the car in terms of power, braking and cornering. We hope that will play to our advantage and that we can bring home another good result.
The Japanese fans are some of the very best on the planet – we particularly look forward to seeing what interesting costumes they produce each year. Their enthusiasm for the sport is second to none and we hope to reward them with a good show.”