Toto Wolff expects Mercedes to struggle on the "difficult to master" Marina Bay track at this weekend's Singapore GP.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton leads Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by three points in the drivers' championship with seven races to go, following the Briton's victory at the Italian GP at Monza on 3 September.
The Scuderia have thrived this season on slow and winding circuits, taking one-twos in both Monaco and Hungary, and Mercedes' team boss Wolff acknowledges that four-time world champion Vettel has a good opportunity to retake the lead in this weekend.
The Marina Bay track is a slow circuit which requires downforce to grip, although Mercedes managed to overcome those problems last year when Nico Rosberg took the chequered flag.
"This is a circuit we have found difficult to master with its combination of short, sharp corners, relatively short straights and bumpy surface," Wolff said.
"And we head to Asia this time round with the expectation that we have a big challenge ahead of us.
"So far this year, we have seen the pendulum swing according to circuit type. On the surface, Singapore is the kind of circuit that should favour both Ferrari and Red Bull.
"Both have shown strong performance on low-speed circuits demanding maximum downforce, and we have found life more difficult at those places in 2017. Sometimes, characteristics like this are simply in the DNA of a car."
But the Austrian says Mercedes' engineers have worked hard to improve the deficiencies of the W08 car since the Monaco GP on 28 May, where Valtteri Bottas finished fourth and Hamilton seventh.
"We learned a lot from our struggles in Monaco, raised our level of performance significantly in Hungary and we have made good progress in understanding what we need to do in order to get the most from the chassis," the 45-year-old continued.
"It's a weekend when every part of the team needs to be at its best if you wish to score a strong finish.
"We will aim to put all the pieces of the puzzle together and finish strongly."
The Singapore Grand Prix at Marina Bay will be shown live over the weekend of 15-17 September on eir sport in Ireland. The race is live on eir Sport 1 on Sunday, 17 September [race time 1pm]
Photo Getty Images/Mark Thomson
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