Hamilton admits Mercedes caught out by Ferrari pace

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W10 and Charles Leclerc (MON) Ferrari SF90.
© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton and his Mercedes squad were left reeling by the sudden improvement in speed and performance from their Ferrari rivals in today's qualifying session for the 2019 Singapore Grand Prix.

Mercedes came into the weekend the clear favourites to pick up pole for the race thanks to the superior corner handling of the W10, while Ferrari were presumed to have the upper hand when it came to straight line speed.

But on Saturday, Ferrari - and in particular Charles Leclerc - proved more than a match for Hamilton in the final moments of Q3.

The young Monegasque's best effort of 1:36.217s ended up being almost two tenths faster than Hamilton's own last effort.

It meant the five-time world champion was denied pole and had to settle for a front row spot on the grid instead, one place ahead of Leclerc's team mate Sebastian Vettel.

"I don't know where Ferrari picked up their pace today," Hamilton admitted afterwards when interviewed by Paul di Resta in parc fermé.

"It's not expected to be one of their circuits, but they did a great job. Charles obviously put some great laps in.

"I really needed something special at the end so I gave it everything I had," he insisted. "It was very, very close - I'm sure I touched the wall a couple of times.

"It was as much as I could get out of the car," he insisted. "I'm really, really happy to be on the front row and in the mix with them so that we can try and divide them tomorrow."

"I think tomorrow we can be aggressive," he added.

Hamilton has won the Singapore Grand Prix on four occasions. But he's also aware that eight times in the last 11 years the event has been won by the driver starting on pole position.

On the other hand, at least Hamilton is aware that Ferrari won't be able to exploit their traditional straight line speed superiority on the tight and twisty Marina Bay Street Circuit.

"It's a street track, but we'll see," he shrugged.

Toto Wolff (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 Shareholder and Executive Director.

With Hamilton's team mate Valtteri Bottas only managing to qualify in fifth place on the grid, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted that it had not been a good day for the team.

"This is a circuit where you would have thought the Red Bulls and the Mercedes are going to battle for pole like in Hungary," he told Sky Sports F1. "But it’s an odd circuit, it’s different.

"Ferrari did a good job today, their car is fast and we've just got to get our act together tomorrow," he acknowledged.

“They are gaining a few tenths on the straights, but they are also very quick in the corners. They are just quicker everywhere.

"The statistics are against us I guess, but the race hasn’t started yet," Wolff added. "If Lewis has a decent start, and if Valtteri is maybe able to improve a position or two, then we are in a good position."

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