Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes Nico Rosberg is in the form of his career after the German usurped a beleaguered Lewis Hamilton to take control of the Formula One World Championship.
Rosberg delivered a crushing victory over team-mate Hamilton at the Singapore Grand Prix to move eight points clear of his sole title rival with just six races left.
Rosberg celebrated his 200th grand prix by qualifying seven tenths of a second faster than Hamilton before leading from the front to rack up his eighth victory of the season and his third in as many races since the summer break.
At no other race since Rosberg and Hamilton have slugged it out for the championship has the former enjoyed such a superior advantage over his Mercedes team-mate.
“I’ve known Nico since 2013 and that is the best Nico Rosberg I have ever seen throughout a weekend since then,” said Wolff. “We have the tendency of saying that Lewis has an awesome pace, and this is what we have seen with Nico this weekend — he was just blindingly fast.
“He was six-tenths quicker than P2 in qualifying in Singapore - something we are not used to seeing at all here - and in the same way he drove the race. He had a great start and controlled the pace.”
Rosberg’s imperious display, and Hamilton’s off-colour weekend, will no doubt be of concern to the world champion as he desperately bids to wrestle back the title momentum after suddenly seeing it shift to Rosberg’s side of the garage. In a championship which has continued to swing from one direction to the other, Hamilton has seen his 19-point lead before the summer break turn into an eight-point deficit.
Hamilton may have missed 30 minutes of practice on Friday with a hydraulic issue, but it does not explain why he was so far behind Rosberg in both qualifying and the race.
“Lewis did not have a clean weekend,” Wolff added. “He was lacking laps and was struggling with set-up and could not choose the direction.
“In Singapore, if you are lacking laps in free practice and you cannot develop the car in a certain direction, it becomes a vicious circle.
“Confidence is key and if your team-mate gets out of the blocks like Nico did this weekend it becomes difficult and Lewis was first to admit that.”
Hamilton will return to south-east Asia in less than a fortnight to contest the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Wolff added: “We have a tendency of talking one up and the other one down and we have had that for three years when they have been fighting for the championship.
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