Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton says stopping all-Red Bull frontrow in Singapore 'tough' ask
Hamilton says W04 balance "definitely went away from us in P2"
By James Galloway. Last Updated: September 20, 2013 7:57pm
Red Bull looking fast in Singapore
Lewis Hamilton fears that Mercedes face a "tough" challenge to qualify on the frontrow for the Singapore GP - but is optimistic there is more pace in the W04 than Practice Two suggested.
Mercedes' attempts to bounce back from the relative disappointments of Spa and Monza, when they didn't finish higher than third in either race, appeared to get off to a promising start under the Marina Bay lights in P1 as Hamilton outpaced the Red Bulls by over 0.3s.
However, as has become customary at recent grand prix, Red Bull - and Sebastian Vettel in particular - upped their pace in the quicker second session, and although Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg still finished fourth and third on the timesheet respectively, their deficit to the World Champion was a full second.
Reflecting on Mercedes' relative slide in competitiveness, Hamilton admitted the W04's balance wasn't as good in the second session and that, not for the first time this season, the team's mechanics had plenty of tweaks to make.
"It wasn't the perfect Friday for us but we got on with our programme and know where we have to make improvements for tomorrow," he said.
"The balance of the car felt really good in P1 but it definitely went away from us in P2. There is a lot of work to do this evening but we're used to that on a Friday night and will just get on with it and focus on our car and performance."
Nonetheless, despite the promise of a Saturday step forward, Hamilton was pessimistic about Mercedes' chances of preventing a second successive all-Red Bull front-row lockout come qualifying.
"It's so difficult to overtake around at this circuit that you want to qualify as high up as possible and, of course, aim for the front row but that will be tough," he added.
While the team's P2 deficit to Red Bull was surprisingly large given the street circuit should play to the W04's strengths, Ross Brawn implied that Mercedes perhaps hadn't shown their full hand at the same time.
The Team Principal pointed to less-than-ideal opening super-soft tyre laps for both Hamilton and Rosberg, and the gruelling 5km circuit's high fuel effect, as reasons to stay optimistic for the weekend.
"We enjoyed a solid first day of running here in Singapore. In the second session, we didn't quite get our first timed laps together on low fuel but that will come tomorrow, I am sure," Brawn said.
"Then we completed our usual running on race fuel with both types of tyre. It's hard to know exactly where we stand because there is a high lap time effect for running extra fuel at this circuit, so that can mix the field somewhat.
"The car seemed reasonably consistent today which has given us a good platform to work from tomorrow."