Sebastian Vettel predicts tight qualifying battle despite dominating Friday Practice

World Champion expects Mercedes to be much closer on Saturday

By Mike Wise in Singapore.   Last Updated: 21/09/13 12:50pm

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Sebastian Vettel: Was 0.6s faster than the field in opening practice

Sebastian Vettel: Was 0.6s faster than the field in opening practice

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Sebastian Vettel was surprised to have such a big advantage after opening practice for the Singapore Grand Prix and thinks that Mercedes will be much closer to Red Bull in qualifying.

The defending World Champion and current title leader once again seized the early initiative on Friday by lapping 0.6s quicker than the rest of the field around the Marina Bay circuit.

Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was next up, but Vettel's time of 1:44.249s was also over a second quicker than the third-placed Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.

Rosberg's team-mate Lewis Hamilton was close behind, but appeared to get caught in traffic on his first run on the supersoft tyre - a point Vettel duly noted.

"It's a bit of a surprise because they didn't have the cleanest lap but I expect especially Mercedes to be very strong in qualifying," he said afterwards.

Vettel also expressed surprise that his time on the option was over two seconds quicker than that he had earlier managed on the medium compound prime rubber.

"I got a good lap to be honest and was a bit surprised by how much I could improve, compared to the medium tyre, on the supersoft," he said.

"I think that's not completely representative but I think we're quick - I hope so, it looks like it - but I think Mercedes will be very, very competitive tomorrow once we go into qualifying."

Webber agreed, adding: "We got what we wanted and it's an easy venue to not get what you want. We're reasonably set up on the long run and also on the short one.

"We've always been pretty strong on Fridays and then it closes up come qualy. We're not counting our chickens but it was a smooth day."

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