Mercedes have admitted that qualifying fifth and sixth on the grid for the Singapore Grand Prix was the ‘maximum’ result they could achieve.
A third row start for both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas was disappointing for the championship leaders, who so far have been unable to match the pace of Ferrari and Red Bull with Hamilton’s rival Sebastian Vettel taking pole.
Toto Wolff admitted after the session that the result was a fair reflection of the team’s true performance around the Singapore streets.
“You always hope for better and it looked at a certain stage that [Hamilton] was really on it, but I think that was probably the maximum you could extract from our car around Singapore,” says Wolff.
“It looked close at a certain stage, but this is Sebastian’s track. He has been quick around here for many years and it suits their car, so probably this is representative from where we stand but obviously when you have it black-and-white like this, it’s never pleasing.”
Having seen his main title contender storm to pole position, championship leader Lewis Hamilton says he did everything he could to maximise his starting position in qualifying.
“I definitely couldn’t have got any more out of it, I gave it everything,” says Hamilton. “I was holding onto the reigns for dear life. I extracted everything I could out of the car.
“I don’t know if I anticipated that we would be this far off this weekend – maybe two or three tenths, but five tenths is a good gap. I think we’re all feeling it within the team, but we’ll still do the best job we can tomorrow. There’s no points for today. This is a horrible track for overtaking, so it’s going to be a long slog tomorrow.
Despite both Ferrari and Red Bull looking stronger than Mercedes around the Marina Bay circuit this weekend, Hamilton says he is looking to try and make at least some progress up the field in tomorrow’s race.
“[Vettel]’s got Verstappen next to him, so anything could happen at the start,” says Hamilton. I just have to try and see if I can get a good start and try and pick at least one of the Ferraris off. That would be very helpful.”