Lewis Hamilton expressed cautious optimism that Mercedes will find themselves in competitive form at the Singapore Grand Prix, given the progress made with the W13 throughout the campaign.
After early season struggles led by the effects of porpoising, Mercedes have made a series of changes to steadily improve their car’s handling and close the gap to leaders Red Bull and Ferrari.
As F1 returns to Singapore after a two-year absence, Hamilton – a four-time event winner – hopes the lessons learned from the 16 races so far will enable the team to cope with the demanding circuit from Marina Bay Street.
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Highlighting the resurfacing around the track, Hamilton said: “We hope the car performs better here, but it really depends on how bumpy it is. Bumps often tripped the car and upset it in many cases. Maybe the car will be fine, maybe not. We’re just going to try to have the best weekend with everything we’re up against.
As for how far Mercedes has come after their troubles on the streets of Monaco and Baku earlier in the year, he added: “We learned a lot about the car, which is natural for everyone, but it’s definitely a huge help to know where the working window is, what is the working range.
“We are able to predict, roughly, where we are going – whether it will work in one place versus another. Also the limits of the car, we know where those limits are and we just have to try to get around them. We’re in a much better place, I think, than we’ve ever been, so hopefully we’re not far off.
Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell is also eager to see where Mercedes stand against the competition when Friday’s first practice session begins and track conditions improve.
“We can tell you after about three laps tomorrow. It’s quite interesting, you know so early… At Zandvoort, probably our most competitive race of the season, Lewis and I knew after two or three laps that it was going to be a good weekend for us,” said Russell.
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“It’s a bit different here, the track is going to be rubberized, it hasn’t been ridden for three years, so it’s going to be quite dirty and not very grippy. You have to evolve with the circuit; we can have a good Friday but the track will be different on Saturday, again different on Sunday.
“There are always safety cars here, which adapt to the strategy, so it’s not a simple race – but it should be better than what we’ve seen [in low-downforce configuration] in Monza and Spa.