Lauda not expecting Mercedes to be better than third

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Mercedes F1 chairman Niki Lauda says the German outfit needs to go back on its tracks to try and understand the massive performance gap which has suddenly arisen between itself and rivals Red Bull and Ferrari.

Following its worst qualifying performance since Austria in 2014, Mercedes' drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be lining up 4th and 5th on tomorrow's Singapore Grand Prix grid.

"We tried everything with the car, yesterday and today to get the grip level back but it never came back," Lauda told Sky Sports.

"We have to sit down and carefully understand what we did wrong because the car is no different – the engine is the same, the tyres are the same. We must have done something wrong that we don’t understand, and we have to find the answer."

Asked whether tyre pressures may have played a part in the F1 W06's deficit against its rivals, Lauda did not believe this to be the case.

"No, because the temperature here is always as it is. In Monza they increased it because of the problems of Spa, but here we are back to normal tyre pressures we had in Monte Carlo, but this should have no effect on our problem."

"We never got the grip level. Sebastian did a fantastic job, as did the Red Bulls, they could get it sticking to the ground and get the balance and drive quickly."

While unforeseen events and circumstances could always play into the hands of Mercedes tomorrow, Lauda was adamant that given its current lack of pace, the team would be hard pressed to secure a race win on its own merit.

"On pure speed, no way," the Austrian concluded.

"You have to take chances at this race and it is always difficult with people dropping out or mechanical problems, so we'll have to be careful in the early laps and then sit there. Hopefully something happens out front, and Lewis can get third. The most I would guess…”

REPORT: Vettel storms to Singapore pole as Mercedes dominance ends

AS IT HAPPENED: Singapore Grand Prix qualifying

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