Lewis Hamilton says it will be “tough but not impossible” to deny Ferrari a victory hat-trick in Sunday’s Singapore GP in the wake of the Scuderia’s unexpected performance in qualifying.
Charles Leclerc’s stunning surge to pole may have been his third in succession, but Ferrari had appeared well off the pace in Friday practice and only been considered third favourites behind Mercedes and Red Bull.
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Formula 1 next heads to Singapore for its marquee night race – watch live only on Sky Sports F1.
Hamilton just denied the Scuderia a front-row lockout with his final lap of qualifying and says Ferrari’s improved performance shows “we’ve got to work harder” to get back in front.
“I’m really glad I’m on the front and I hope that I can put some sort of fight in with these guys. It’s going to be a tough one, but not impossible,” Hamilton told Sky Sports.
“I’m going to try and make something work [on Sunday].”
Mercedes are aiming to avoid a third consecutive race-day defeat for just the second time in a hybrid engine era they have dominated.
Conversely, Ferrari have not won three races in a row since 2008.
“I think it should be a good race, so let’s see what the tyres will do, if we are able to push the full two hours, or if we have to manage,” said Vettel, who had held provisional pole until errors on his final run dropped him to third.
“But one way or another it’s always fun around here so looking forward to it.”
Leclerc added: “It’s great, it’s very good to see that we are on pole on a track like this where we expected to struggle but on the other hand, me personally, I’m just focusing on the race now and I will, of course, be very happy if I’m in the same position.”
Is Verstappen still an outside factor?Having qualified with at least one car in the top three in Singapore for 10 consecutive seasons, Red Bull’s starting positions of fourth and sixth are their worst here since the event’s inaugural year.
Max Verstappen shares row two with Vettel, but admitted he was “disappointed with the result” with the RB15 struggling for grip in some of the circuit’s 23 corners.
“To be honest, starting fourth is not very promising to try and win the race. But let’s see what’s going to happen,” the Dutchman told reporters.
“[The race runs on Friday] they were not so good. I don’t know how the car is going to be. Already in the long runs you could see we were lacking a bit of pace.”
Provisional Singapore GP grid1. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari4. Max Verstappen, Red Bull5. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes6. Alex Albon, Red Bull7. Carlos Sainz, McLaren8. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault9. Lando Norris, McLaren10. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo11. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso12. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo13. Kevin Magnussen, Haas14. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso15. Sergio Perez, Racing Point*16. Lance Stroll, Racing Point17. Romain Grosjean, Haas18. George Russell, Williams19. Robert Kubica, Williams20. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault**