Mercedes eye Japan improvement
Mercedes have vowed to strike back in Japan this weekend as they think one of the greatest circuits in the world will play to their strengths.
Just as Sebastian Vettel has stepped up to the plate to dominate Formula One with four successive victories since the summer break, so Mercedes have gone off the boil.
At the last three races in particular, neither Lewis Hamilton nor team-mate Nico Rosberg has claimed pole position or finished on the podium.
In Korea on Sunday, Hamilton and Rosberg could only manage fifth and seventh respectively as their cars lacked power on the all-important straights, even if they made up time through the twistier sections.
Overall, it now means Hamilton has slipped to fourth in the drivers' standings, 111 points adrift of Vettel with just 125 available.
Whilst the titles are naturally beyond Mercedes, motorsport director Toto Wolff at least feels his team can rival Red Bull around Suzuka.
"The team had a frustrating time in Korea: qualifying showed the pace we had in the car but we were not able to use it at the right moments of the race," said Wolff.
"We also lost points because of a problem on Nico's car and everybody in the team is working hard to get on top of reliability issues like this one.
"Looking ahead to Japan, we can take two small positives from last weekend.
"First, we closed the points gap to Ferrari in the constructors' championship, and it now stands at just a single point.
"The second is our car was possibly the quickest of all in sector two last weekend, which contained all the medium and high-speed corners.
"This is promising for Suzuka where nearly two thirds of the corners are taken in fourth gear or higher, and should see our car perform well on this fantastic track.
"It's a true drivers' circuit and we have the best driver pairing in the field, so I am optimistic Nico and Lewis can qualify and race strongly to bounce back from last weekend."
Hamilton can only hope what he felt in Korea translates to Suzuka.
He said: "It is one of the few circuits we have left in Formula One with the authenticity of a real old-school track.
"I drove there for the first time in 2009 and it takes a while to pick up pace each year because of how fast-flowing it is.
"If you touch the grass at any point, it's going to spin you off into the wall, so it's a much more demanding circuit in terms of precision, positioning and turning points for each corner.
"It's a real race track where you have to think ahead as a driver and it just needs crazy levels of downforce from the car.
"From my point of view, the car felt fantastic to drive in Korea when everything was hooked up, so I am excited for this weekend to see what we can do."