Formula 1 fans could be forgiven for feeling a sense of familiarity as the season approaches its business end.
Mercedes are 37 points ahead of Ferrari in the contractors’ standings, while Lewis Hamilton already has one hand on a fifth world title.
If the Brit finishes ahead of Sebastian Vettel at the Russian Grand Prix next weekend, he wouldn’t need another win to secure the championship.
To say Hamilton has been brilliant throughout this campaign is a considerable understatement; perhaps even the most ardent Ferrari supports would agree with that.
Of the 15 completed races this season, has won seven and finished third or above in four others, meaning he has failed to appear on the podium just three times this year.
The 33-year-old deserves a lot of credit for so far delivering a rock-solid defence of his crown, but Mercedes has also had a lot to do with it, of course.
The German team haven’t been without their issues in 2018 and one particular masterstroke ahead of the recent Singapore Grand Prix effectively underpinned Hamilton’s victory.
Controlling rear tyre temperatures has given Mercedes a constant headache of late, so prior to last weekend’s race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, engineering chief Aldo Costa revealed their cars will be debuting new tech to help deal with the issue.
"We believe that the behaviour in the corners in general is our point of strength, while in the management of the temperature of the rear tyres we are working hard,” he said, per Autosport.
"We plan to make progress in Singapore where we will have some modifications designed for this and therefore we are making progress with respect to ourselves, but I can not say if it will be enough.”
So what exactly did Mercedes change?
Well, they’re now using a carbon fibre wheel drum with different cooling ducts and a deep concave shape to create a small air chamber within the wall of the tyre rim, which increased heat extraction and prevents overheating.
The design is reminiscent of that used by McLaren and capitalises on a grey area in regulations regarding the transition of the wing from one width to another.
Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas clearly benefitted from the upgrade in Singapore, so hats off to Mercedes for finding such an effective solution to the dilemma.
Most other teams - Ferrari included - are still using an older version, but surely it won’t take them long to catch on and introduce similar concepts.
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