September 22nd, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - After qualifying 2nd and 5th on Saturday, Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were aiming to at least reach the podium in the Singapore Grand Prix. But it was not to be in a race described as "frustrating" by Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn. Rosberg finished fourth with Hamilton just behind in fifth place.
Rosberg surged off the line when the lights went out and looked set to lead into the first corner. But he went a little bit wide in turn one, which allowed Sebastian Vettel to take the inside line for turn three. From that point on, there was no catching Vettel and Rosberg settled into what looked like a secure second place. But then the safety car was deployed when Daniel Ricciardo crashed on lap 25, and that left Mercedes with a tough strategic call to make. Ross Brawn explained:
"That was a frustrating race after the Safety Car came out at what was just the wrong time for us. It was a close decision whether or not to pit the cars in order to try and run over half the race distance on a single set of tyres. Our view was that we couldn't make it, so we left both cars out on track - as did Red Bull - so that we could run a shorter final stint. In the end, we saw that two of the cars who pitted managed to make it work, but most others had to make an additional stop or fell out of the window of tyre performance in the closing laps."
Rosberg also suffered from a lack of front downforce after the safety car period due to some rubber that became stuck in his front wing. It cost him some time, possible enough to challenge Kimi Raikkonen for third place. Rosberg described his race:
"I had a good start today and the pace of our car was really strong this evening. The safety car was unfortunate timing for us and perhaps it wasn't the best decision to stay out but, at the time, we weren't sure if our tyres would be able to last the distance. I then had some rubber trapped in my front wing after the safety car period which cost me quite a lot of performance for some laps and had an impact on my race because the tyres suffered more than would be normal. We could perhaps have been second today but events in the race just didn't go our way so it is a little disappointing to only finish in fourth place. We now need to learn from this weekend and focus on the next race in Korea."
Lewis Hamilton said after the race, "That was a really tough race, probably the most physically demanding of the year. We tried our best and the car felt good tonight but unfortunately we paid the price for not qualifying further ahead yesterday. I didn't have the best start and had to go wide to avoid Mark [Webber] at turn one. From there, it was difficult to follow the race and my position. Whilst the timing of the safety car definitely didn't help us, we need to go back through our strategy and see what we could possibly have done differently in that situation. I'm not sure we could have done what Fernando and Kimi did by staying out on that set of tyres for so long, though.
"Of course, it's a little disappointing to come away with only fifth place but I gave it my all out there and we'll come back stronger. Our aim is to get back ahead of Ferrari in the Constructors' Championship and see if we can get another win before the end of the season."