Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff has played down talk of a tyre conspiracy against his Formula 1 team at the Singapore Grand Prix, even though it still has no answer for its dramatic performance slump.
After its domination of the F1 season so far, Mercedes was strangely well off the pace throughout the Singapore GP weekend.
And such was the performance swing against its rivals compared to recent races that several conspiracy theories emerged – either that new tyre safety rules had hampered the team, or even that Mercedes was running different compounds to everyone else.
With no answer as to why Mercedes was no match for Ferrari or Red Bull in Singapore, Wolff admitted that he had even considered some of the conspiracy theories, but in the end was sure nothing strange had happened.
When asked if the pattern of performance had meant the possibility of Mercedes even considering it could have been on different tyres to everyone else, Wolff said: “I need to be careful what I say... it crosses my mind.
“We had a situation in the DTM where the tyre was changed mid-season this year, and I didn't think that it was possible. We've seen a lot of things, but I don't think Pirelli would do that.”
Mercedes will continue its investigations in to the tyre issues – which seemed to have been caused by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg being unable to generate enough heat in to the surface of their tyres.
This meant it suffered especially on traction, which is a key performance requirement around the Marina Bay circuit.
Wolff remains convinced that the issue was a one-off, and that when F1 returns to a higher downforce faster track in Japan this weekend it should be business as usual for his team.
“I am always on the pessimistic side, but I don't believe that you lose car performance from one weekend to another like we did, and someone else found 1.5 seconds,” said Wolff, who made it clear that its tyre situation was no better in the race than qualifying.
“We spoke to the drivers, and the degradation was massive and unexplainable from us.”
He added: “But we need to stay calm as this is a very specific circuit, with a very specific way the tyre operates compared to other circuits.
"We have Suzuka in one week. The car is the same, we haven't lost performance of the car. We need a methodical approach.”