To finish first, the old saying goes, one must first finish.
Nowhere is that racing truism more evident these days than at Mercedes F1, where the failure of a wiring harness knocked Nico Rosberg out of Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix after the 13th lap. It was a crushing setback for the German, who had been leading the championship and now trails teammate Lewis Hamilton by three points with five races to go. More troubling, it was the fifth time a Mercedes driver has been saddled with a Did Not Finish (DNF) by mechanical issues, a reminder that a reliable car is just as important as an ace driver.
Nico’s problems seemed to come out of nowhere, at least for those of us not privy to the inner communications of the Mercedes F1 team. The car performed well in practice and qualifying, but had significant issues on race day. The first indication that something might be amiss occurred before Nico’s car first left the pit garage. The team had the car up on jacks and was running through gear changes with the wheels spinning, which is unusual to see just before a race. More issues popped up during a practice start when leaving the pit lane just a half-hour before the race began. Rosberg sat at the end of the pit lane for longer than usual, before laying down a big strip of rubber during a burnout, suggesting problems with the electronically controlled clutch. The team replaced the steering wheel and reset the computer systems (like with an everyday computer, a simple reset can work wonders), but no luck.