Nico Rosberg at a publicity event ahead of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix. Picture: Edgar Su / Reuters

Singapore - Nico Rosberg has the chance to regain the Formula One championship lead from team-mate Lewis Hamilton in his 200th career race on Sunday at the Singapore Grand Prix - which, however poses a huge challenge for the Mercedes team.

The silver arrows were comprehensively outclassed by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel 12 months ago at the night race on the Marina Bay street circuit, and there are fears that things may look similar this time around - with Red Bull also a threat apart from the Scuderia.

Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff said: “We go to Singapore with a big challenge ahead of us - we have to optimise everything to get a solid result.

“We didn't manage it last year and, although we believe we now understand why, only performance on the race track can prove our conclusions right. We are curious and excited to see how it goes.”

Rosberg had a fantastic start to the season with four consecutive wins but reigning double champion Lewis Hamilton fought back and went to the top of the standings after the 11th race in Hungary.

The Briton also won the next Grand Prix in Germany but Rosberg has since rebounded and narrowed the gap to two points with top spots in Belgium and Italy.

Now comes Singapore where Hamilton won in 2014 while Rosberg's best finish has been second, back in 2008. As a result, Rosberg is taking nothing for granted despite seemingly having the momentum on his side, describing Singapore as “a race that's been up and down for me.

“I got my second ever podium there way back in 2008,” he said, “but I haven't been up there again since, so the target is to change that on Sunday.

“The points gap has gone up and down but I've taken it one race at a time - and that's the best way for me, as you can see by how the gap is now.”

‘Phenomenal position’

Hamilton lost his chance of winning in Italy with a slow start from pole but is not discouraged because of the overall strength of the team.

“Monza didn't quite go to plan. But when you look at how far we've come as a team this season from where we were, then I realise I'm in a phenomenal position,” he said.

Hamilton added he doesn't expect “an easy breezy drive” given the expected form of Ferrari and Red Bull.

Vettel will hope to end what he has named “a rough season” with a first victory for himself and Ferrari since his top spot there in 2015.

Vettel also has three Singapore victories from his time at Red Bull - which will be looking for a second win this season following Max Verstappen's surprise success in Spain.

The action, in hot and humid conditions, will start with two practice session on Friday, with qualifying on Saturday and the 15th Grand Prix of the 21 race season on Sunday.

Singapore is always unpredictable - each race since the debut of the narrow and twisty 5.065-kilometre circuit in 2008 has seen the safety car out at least once.

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