Hamilton shocked at Ferrari's Singapore speed, but confident of victory fight
Mercedes appeared to be the class of the field, both in terms of short- and long-run pace, on Friday in Singapore, but they were defeated by Ferrari in qualifying, leaving championship leader Lewis Hamilton more than a little shocked. He still fancies his victory chances, mind…
Mercedes showed a turn of pace in Q1, Valtteri Bottas 0.697s quicker than the closest non-Silver Arrow, but Ferrari stepped it up in the second segment and reinforced their advantage in the third, with Charles Leclerc usurping team mate Sebastian Vettel to take pole, with Hamilton slotting into second, 0.191s adrift.
“I don’t know where Ferrari picked up their pace today because this is not technically one of their tracks but they did a great job,” admitted Hamilton. “Charles put some great laps in.
“It really needed something special so I gave it everything I had. It was as much as I could get out of the car and I’m really, really happy to be on the front row, in the mix with them so we can try and divide them tomorrow.” He added: “Tomorrow, I think we can be aggressive.”
We haven’t had an upgrade for a while - maybe when that comes, it will help us a little bit
Hamilton couldn’t explain where Mercedes were lacking versus Ferrari, but suggested the Scuderia's upgrade package has made a difference.
“I don’t know where we’re losing it,” he said. “The first sector, it’s a loss for us and some part of it is straight-line, but they are able to match us in the second and third sector. Clearly [they have made] a big step. We haven’t had an upgrade for a while. Maybe when that comes, it will help us a little bit.
“We came into the weekend knowing we’d have a fight with the Red Bulls, was just knowing how the Ferraris have been in high downforce and not been so strong, Budapest for example, they’ve bought an upgrade here and it seems to have worked.
“It was definitely a struggle out there, but I liked how close it was between us.”
Hamilton always has confidence in his ability, so it’s no surprise he still fancies his chances of converting second – the first time he has started in this position since the inaugural race in 2008 – into victory, in what would be his third straight triumph under the lights and fifth in total.