Lewis Hamilton has admitted he’s unsure why Mercedes are suffering a performance slump, although he attributed some of the lost pace to experiencing troubles getting both tyre compounds in their operating window.

Mercedes sent a shock through the paddock when it became apparent that their times posted during FP2 and FP3 were actually reflective of their true pace in Singapore, and not sandbagged times to throw their opponents off.

“It [the car] was looking a little bit more difficult from Friday,” Hamilton said.

“The balance was not great and then we made some changes, FP2 was not as bad and then this morning was tricky. We have definitely worked a lot more balance wise to try and find the grip from the tyres, but in actual fact it’s not the set-up – we’ve had a couple of good set-ups – it’s just these tyres for whatever reason are not working on our car.”

It’s a problem that hasn’t presented itself to Hamilton before in his career, as he seems to be certain that there is nothing wrong with the setup of the Mercedes.

“I don’t really remember another time in my Formula One career where something like this has happened and where we have not changed anything on the car and we are a second and a half down. I don’t remember that every happening before. So this isn’t a new experience for us, but I have no reason that it is going to continue for more races, it might just be track dependent.

“The only way I can explain it is that it’s a bit like doing a good lap on the prime tyre and then you go and do exactly the same lap on the option tyre but it’s a second and half faster. It felt like a really good lap, but it’s a second and half slower than the guys up ahead. We have not lost any performance on our car, the drivers have not lost any performance, so there is only one thing it can come from and that is obviously the rubber.

“I don’t know why it is the case and I actually challenge the media to find the reasons. I’m challenging my team to find where the problem is, whether it’s in temperatures, blankets, ride heights, I want them to find out because we want to go and win tomorrow.”

Hamilton will start from fifth on the grid tomorrow ahead of team-mate Nico Rosberg.

Image via Mercedes AMG F1 Petronas

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