Austrian former Formula One driver and current non-executive chairman of the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Niki Lauda thinks that Scuderia Ferrari should be considered as outright favourite to win the 2017 Singapore Grand Prix, which takes place on the Marina Bay Street Circuit at the end of the week.
Mercedes’ back to back wins at Spa and Monza have put Lewis Hamilton in command of the world championship fight ahead of the next round of the 2017 Formula One season. After the German outfit inflicted a heavy loss on the Scuderia on its home turf, and even as the performance level of its W08 chassis continues to improve, Niki Lauda still sees the Maranello team prevailing around flood-lit Marina Bay street circuit: “We won at Monza and that was a shame for Ferrari and their important event.” – the three-time Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion and F1 legend recently said, as reported by Italian national sports newspaper based in Rome Corriere dello Sport.
“But in Singapore maybe Vettel will change things again. Many times Ferrari has been faster than Mercedes. At Spa Vettel was very close. Ok, at Monza perhaps a little less, but in my opinion this was due to a mistake in the Ferrari setup. Ferrari will be the favourite in Singapore, but on the other hand it is difficult to say who will win. I hope it is Hamilton.” – Niki Lauda added.
The triple world champion (1975, 1977, 1984) and former Scuderia Ferrari driver also said that, despite the intense rivalry between the Silver Arrows and the Maranello team, he still has a soft spot for the red squad: “My heart is with Ferrari but my head is with Mercedes. It’s ok for me. Vettel is a number 1 driver. His heart is for Ferrari and if the team is competitive, you can’t discount him.” – Niki Lauda concluded, as reported by the Italian media on Monday.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has also admitted that the characteristics of the Marina Bay Street Circuit, which hosts this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, should favour rivals Ferrari and Red Bull. Mercedes has held the advantage at high-speed venues which favour aerodynamic efficiency in 2017, but struggled at low-speed circuits where high-downforce is favoured: “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. So far this year, we have seen the pendulum swing according to circuit type. On the surface, Singapore is the kind of circuit that should favour both Ferrari and Red Bull.”