Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix 2016

Tough weekend lies ahead for Rosberg

German knows he will need to battle hard for podium in a circuit that favours rival teams

LONDON • Nico Rosberg has switched from celebratory mood to one of concern as this Sunday's Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix looms.

The German driver called his victory at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Sept 4 "awesome", but made it clear that he will have to fight harder to stand on the podium at Marina Bay for a second time, reported ESPN.

The 31-year-old, driving a Williams then, finished second to Fernando Alonso in Singapore in 2008. But, after the difficulties his current Mercedes team faced at the Marina Bay street circuit last year, he knows it will not be easy this weekend.

"Standing on top of that Monza podium was an awesome experience," said Rosberg, who stands second in the drivers' standings. "I'll definitely remember that one for a long time.

"But now my focus is on Singapore - a race that's been up and down for me. I got my second-ever podium there way back in 2008 but haven't been up there again since, so the target is to change that on Sunday. Of course, it won't be easy.

"This is a Red Bull track and we weren't so strong there last year. But I have faith in the team and my belief in myself is as high as ever."

ATONING FOR LAST YEAR

The track looks spectacular under the lights and it's always buzzing in town around the race weekend, so I'm really looking forward to getting out there.

NICO ROSBERG (above), who is aiming for his first win on the Marina Bay circuit.

Rosberg is two points behind team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the championship battle with seven races to go.

"I approach each weekend aiming to win the race," said Rosberg. "The points gap has gone up and down but I've taken it one race at a time - and that's the best way for me, as you can see by how the gap is now.

"Singapore is a cool city and a great place for Formula One. The track looks spectacular under the lights and it's always buzzing in town around the race weekend, so I'm really looking forward to getting out there."

Despite dominating the podium places last year, Mercedes struggled in Singapore 12 months ago.

Both Rosberg and Hamilton qualified nearly 1.5 seconds off the pace, with Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel taking pole and going on to win.

Mercedes executive director Paddy Lowe admitted his team have worked hard this year but played down their chances of success.

He told Sky Sports F1: "This was not a good race for us last year and a lot of work has been done during the intervening 12 months to understand why that was.

"It's a matter of great interest for us as a team to see if we can come back and get it right this time.

"Of course, we haven't been able to test (the cars' performance) on the circuit, so all of our theories are just theories at this stage.

"We've got a lot more work ahead to get ourselves in a good position during practice, to qualify well and then to have a strong race."

Hamilton, who visited the 9/11 memorial at New York's Ground Zero on Sunday, said that Mercedes will have to find a way to emerge supreme in Singapore.

"Our auto is the best compromise," said the Briton. "And then you have outliers and there are teams that are doing extremely well on circuits like Singapore because (of the) high downforce.

"It's about finding the best compromise, so let's see what happens in Singapore."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2016, with the headline 'Tough weekend lies ahead for Rosberg'. Print Edition | Subscribe