Although the Ferrari pit wall refused to intervene on that occasion, both drivers claim they will adhere to any instructions issued during Sunday’s encounter.
“Well, first of all, I’m sure that the characteristics of the track is not like it allows (us) to have the nice battles and great wheel-to-wheel that we had in Monza, which again, was a lot of fun and a great battle,” Sainz said. “But I think this track is very, very different.
“And, of course, we will be looking into tomorrow to see everything that we can do to beat the Merc and to get the cars into one-two and I’m sure the team will, again, prioritise the overall team result and try to get the win.”
Leclerc added: “Yeah, I agree. I think in Monza the track is helping also those fights.
“But again, I believe the philosophy will be the same. If we are under pressure of Merc then I’m pretty sure that the positions will be fixed if we have all the other cars quite far behind, which I hope will be the case, then let’s see, let’s see what the team chooses.
“But at the end, we’ll follow whatever we have been told.”
After achieving his first pole position and podium of the year in Italy, Sainz has continued on the front foot in Singapore, leading two of the three practice sessions before going on to secure pole position.
“Yeah, it feels very good, I must say,” he summarised. “I felt on it again since FP1, FP2, FP3, building it up.
“Again, another clean lap in Q3 with no mistakes. I knew I had the pace. I knew I could do it and just putting a clean lap together in Q3 gave me pole position again, which is an incredible feeling.”
Ferrari arrived in Singapore braced to embark upon a tough weekend, having consistently regressed in competitiveness when encountering high-downforce circuits.
However, the Maranello side has led the way in every session to this point, with Sainz crediting the extensive work Ferrari has done behind the scenes to rectify its troubles.
“Pleasantly surprised, because our last high downforce tracks, we’ve really struggled,” Sainz expressed regarding Ferrari’s pace in Singapore.
“We haven’t been on the pace. We’ve been third, fourth, fifth-fastest car and certainly since we arrived to Singapore, a high-downforce track we were clearly one of the fastest, if not the fastest.
“So it has been a very good progress. I think we’ve done a lot of work to try and understand our high-downforce package and the team has done a very good job to put it together for Singapore. But it’s true also that this always, historically, has been a very good track for Ferrari.”
Despite putting up a stern defence, Sainz was unable to resist the Red Bulls in Monza – but the Spaniard is more optimistic about securing victory this time around.
“I’m more confident, mainly because of the track layout,” he explained. “I think it’s a bit easier to hold on to our track position. That obviously gives me more confidence than Monza in terms of pace, I really have no idea how we’re going to be.
“Looking at long-run data from Friday. the Merc, the Aston and the Red Bull did look a bit quicker than us in tyre degradation and race pace, so it could be that tomorrow we have to run, yet again, a bit of a defensive race.
“But I don’t discount that even around this track we could hold on to a P1 because it’s a lot more difficult to pass than other tracks this season, but our race pace still looks like our weakest point.”
Meanwhile, Leclerc was on course to snatch pole from his team-mate but lost time in the final sector saw him come up 0.079s short.
The Monegasque racer concedes he has been struggling with the handling of the SF-23 since the summer break, with the car’s unpredictability denting his confidence.
Reflecting on his qualifying outing, Leclerc said: “I’m struggling a little bit more – since the restart of the break actually – with the car. Quite a bit of understeer, but then also quite snappy.
“So difficult to predict what is the car going to do on the track, which I pay the price a little bit with the confidence I have inside the car.
“But at the same time honestly, it was a good lap. A small mistake in Turn 17 which cost me too much but apart from that I’m happy with the lap. It wasn’t enough today, though.”