Nico Rosberg admits this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix will not be “an easy” one for Mercedes as it looks to bounce back from a nightmare showing twelve months ago and a one second deficit.
The Marina Bay Street Circuit was the one event in 2015 where Mercedes was unable to dominate, with Lewis Hamilton and Rosberg finishing qualifying a relatively lowly fifth and sixth, over 1.4secs off Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel's pole time.
The race was similarly disappointing, with Hamilton forced out due to a throttle problem, while Rosberg came home fourth - 24.7secs off the winner.
“Not at all,” Rosberg replied, when asked if he is confident it will be different this year. “There were reasons we were off the pace and we understand some of them. We have made some major changes [too] so we hope to be looking a lot better - but is it enough to turn around a 1sec deficit we had last year?
“It's not an easy one.”
“This weekend is going to be a special challenge for us because we have to get everything 100 per cent right to be able to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull. Steep weekend in front of us,” he added.
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The Singapore GP will be Rosberg's 200th in F1, and while he is not overly sentimental, he concedes the “experience for sure helps, definitely”.
“No celebration [to mark my 200th race]. For me there is nothing to celebrate. It is a nice statistic, cool, but it makes me feel a bit old in a way – 200 – makes me realise that I am not the young guy anymore here in the sport. And apart from that, nothing. Good memories. It is the moment to think back again about those 200 races, and the highlights for me. What's the highlight? Monaco 2013 for example was a very special day for me to win in my home,” he stated.
POINTS: The 2016 F1 World Championship standings ahead of the Singapore GP
As for the Championship, Rosberg is now just two points shy of Hamilton in the Drivers' standings after his second win in succession in Monza, the German gifted the victory there after his team-mate had a bad start.
Quizzed on if the starts will be the crucial factor in deciding who wins the title this season, Rosberg disagreed, although he concedes they are a “good challenge”.
“Yeah, for sure they [the starts] impact it. [But] it is just one thing of so many things [when it comes to who wins the Championship]. So I don't think it is now something that should be highlighted.
“There are always different reasons [why they go wrong]. There is not always the same reason, but a combination of everything, and for sure the driver has a big part in it.
“Of course I am aware of the fact that starts are an ongoing challenge and it will not become easier now for us. So definitely it needs attention on my part, but I have been feeling good lately, been having some good starts, so feeling good about it. But I have also had my difficulties – I lost the Hockenheim Grand Prix and the Hungarian Grand Prix for not optimal starts.
“So it is a good challenge.”
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