Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Toto Wolff has spoke out ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, and believes the new rulings from the FIA regarding the ban of certain types of radio traffic a team can relay to their drivers will cause some controversy.
“It’s been a busy week for both the team and for Formula One,” said Wolff. “On track, it has been confirmed that we will now see less radio traffic. This is a complex and controversial decision, which will require a significant effort from the teams to understand how best we can work around it.
“The directive is not yet fully clear and there will inevitably be some controversy, so it will need further clarification as to how much the essential on-track procedures will be affected – particularly before the start of the race.”
Wolff was happy to see his Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finish first and second at Monza for their first one-two finish since the Austrian Grand Prix, and praised Hamilton for his drive after a bad start. He also believes Rosberg will come back stronger after losing the lead to his team-mate due to a mistake at the first chicane.
“Italy was a fantastic way to wrap up the European phase of the season after a tough few weekends at the preceding races,” reflected Wolff. “It was our first one-two finish since Austria and, realistically, the results in between had not matched the high standards we set ourselves as a team. To see both drivers on the top two steps was a thoroughly deserved reward for all the hard work put in by the people at Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart.
“Lewis produced a fantastic drive to recover from a difficult start and take a well-earned win. For Nico, it was unusual to see a few mistakes when he is usually so consistent – but he has all the mental strength required to bounce back.
“Looking ahead, we now approach the final six races of the season – beginning with the spectacular Singapore Grand Prix. This is an event which the entire paddock looks forward to each year, and we fully intend to kick off the final third of the season with another top result.”
Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe felt the result in Monza was ‘extremely satisfying’ to achieve, but is now firmly focused on the job in hand when the F1 circus arrives in Singapore, a circuit completely different to the Italian track. He knows luck will be required at the circuit renowned for accidents and safety cars, but feels another strong result for the Mercedes team is definitely possible.
“As a team we were incredibly happy with the result in Monza,” insisted Lowe. “It’s one of the great circuits of the season and a challenging one to take a win, let alone achieve a one-two finish, so that was extremely satisfying. They were fantastic drives from both Lewis and Nico and it was a welcome return to winning ways.
“Singapore is a race that I’m sure the whole paddock looks forward to. It’s a glamorous event with a fantastic atmosphere – to the extent that standing on the starting grid under the thousands of spotlights feels much like being on stage, waiting for the theatre to begin. It really is a unique weekend – not least because of the peculiar timings.
“The circuit itself could not stand as more of a contrast to Monza, with a lot of low-speed corner content. The demands on the car are still very high in terms of braking, steering and also the engine. It’s also a long race – often running to the full two-hour limit and frequently characterised by safety cars.
“It’s a tricky one to manage no matter what position you might be in, with fortune playing a part depending on the nature and timing of any issues which may arise. It’s always an action-packed, incident-filled race, with the nature of the track and the heat playing a role in retirements – both mechanical and by human error. We’ll be aiming to steer clear of any drama and come away with another strong result as the season enters its final third.”