Leader Lewis Hamilton stays positive despite Singapore disadvantage

Posted September 15, 2017

On Monday, he touched base at Mercedes' Northamptonshire HQ, and then on to Frankfurt to launch Mercedes' £2.4million Project One hypercar. Not to be forgotten, looming somewhere behind them, charges Daniel Ricciardo in the Red Bull. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel has 46. It hasn't come close to matching the Scuderia or championship leader Mercedes for pace. Red Bull is expected to challenge but Ferrari could use that to its advantage if it is able to put the Milton Keynes-based team between itself and Mercedes in the race.

Hamilton has struck form as the championship enters its final straight.

Behind Hamilton, his team mate Valtteri Bottas worked himself up in a very determined way to second position at the finish after starting from fourth on the grid. Add to that the record of Vettel himself during his career in Asia, everything points to a hard few weeks for the Mercedes team as a whole.

"Since 2014 I felt if I was in a Mercedes I believed I could have won and a year ago as well".

The last two races of this season, in Belgium and Italy, were more suited to Mercedes and played to Hamilton's strengths. Vettel has 96, Raikkonen 88.

His win at Monza last fortnight, when he also achieved his 69th career pole, propelled him to 238 points, three ahead of Ferrari's Vettel.

A general view taken from Swissotel the Stamford shows the illuminated circuit for the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix night race on Sunday. Roslan Rahman  AFP
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"At no point during this year have I got any signs from the team that they were looking somewhere else", Bottas said at the Singapore Grand Prix. Despite wins in 2014 and 2016, the team has always struggled to extract its full potential under the lights of Marina Bay since the start of the V6 turbo era it has otherwise dominated. It will be his role as "spoiler" however, that could go a long way to deciding the outcome of the this years World Championship. The slow nature of the Marina Bay street circuit is one expected to suit Vettel's Ferrari vehicle, and play against Mercedes' strengths.

First practice gets underway at 9.30am, with the second starting at 1.30pm BST.

"It's definitely a good thing (coming in as championship leader)- it's been a whole year of chasing them", said Hamilton, a two-time Singapore victor, in 2009 and 2014. The Republic is the first race of a seven-stop swing outside the sport's European hinterland.

Formula One is back under the lights in Singapore this weekend. Previous year it was deployed on the opening lap.

"For sure this race is important because the end of the season is coming closer and closer". Last year's lasted one hour and 55 minutes.

Fresh from finally announcing they are splitting with Honda at the end of the season, McLaren enjoyed their most competitive Friday since the similarly high-downforce Hungaroring with Stoffel Vandoorne and Fernando Alonso sixth and seventh respectively. Neither threatened the top ten as Ricciardo again led the way, this time from Vettel and Verstappen.