Lewis Hamilton felt it was a good day in Singapore on Friday, with the reigning World Champion ending second fastest under the lights, just 0.011 seconds behind pacesetter Kimi Räikkönen.
The Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport driver finished only sixth fastest in the first session but did not use the Hypersoft Pirelli tyre at all throughout the session, saving his first runs with that rubber for the practice session that will be more reflective of conditions they will likely face during Qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.
Hamilton finished just behind Scuderia Ferrari’s Räikkönen in the night-time session, but he does not know how close they can be to them when it matters on Saturday and Sunday evening.
“The first session of the day was good, even though it might not show on the timesheets as we didn’t use the Hypersoft tyres,” said Hamilton. “We got through our programme, tried some different options and got some good results from it.
“We were close to the Ferraris, but we will only find out tomorrow how quick they really are.”
Hamilton says the car feels a lot better this year in Singapore than it has in recent years and he credits that to the hard work being performed both trackside and at the factory. He also says the heat and humidity made it ‘crazy hot’ in the cockpit, and he expects it to be even worse on Sunday.
“The guys have been working so hard both here at the track and back at the factory to improve the car and it is definitely feeling better than it did in the past,” said the Briton.
“The track is incredible; we’re a lot quicker than we were last year, but that also makes the lap so much harder than it was even last year because the G forces have gone up, we need to react quicker and it is crazy hot in the cockpit.
“You’re sweating even before you get into the car; in the second session, I think I lost almost two kilos, so I will lose even more on Sunday.”
Hamilton feels it should be very close between the leading three teams this weekend, with Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing looking quick around the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
“We will see how it goes tomorrow, but it’s looking like it might be a three-way fight between Ferrari, Red Bull and us,” said Hamilton.