Lewis Hamilton believes he will have to “play the long game” in race trim after labelling the Marina Bay Street Circuit as “crap” for overtaking.
Mercedes expected to struggle relative to rivals Ferrari and Red Bull in Singapore and its fears were realised, as Hamilton qualified only fifth, with Sebastian Vettel on pole.
Hamilton nonetheless expressed surprise at his deficit of seven-tenths of a second, and is wary that fighting at the front will be a challenging proposition for Mercedes during the race.
“Well we knew that we would come here and it would be difficult,” he said.
“I think every year it has been relatively difficult for us. We knew that today would be tough. I definitely didn’t anticipate Ferrari being as strong as they were.
“I thought Red Bull would be as quick as they were, but we still remained hopeful. I got everything that I could out of the car – I gave it everything and more. I literally threw the sink at it.”
On his prospects of moving forwards, Hamilton said: “This is a crap track for overtaking. It’s usually just a long, long train. I think it’s going to be very difficult.
“I think the start is an opportunity, strategy is an opportunity, Safety Cars, who knows…
“I think tomorrow I’m just going to have to play the long game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so I’ll try to take that method into tomorrow.”
Hamilton heads into the 61-lap race three points clear of Ferrari's Vettel.