“I would think that if they’re not 30 seconds ahead like they have been in the past, then something’s up,” Hamilton admitted.
“As Checo [Sergio Perez] said, it was obviously a difficult weekend in the last one, but that car should be phenomenal here. They’ve been phenomenal all year long. They’ve aced pretty much every circuit.
“It’s going to be great to watch that car in general. Normally you would come here and it’s beautiful to watch the laps that they do. The whole team and the drivers are doing an amazing job with the package they have.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the weekend goes. I hope we’ll be closer, and I hope they’re not as fast as the 30-second gap.”
The closing exchanges in Singapore witnessed four drivers from three different teams contesting the victory after Mercedes had elected to gamble by pitting both its drivers for brand-new Medium tyres.
Although both George Russell and Hamilton caught the back of Sainz and Lando Norris, neither Mercedes could yield a way past the McLaren to have a go at the leading Ferrari.
Hamilton, though, has dismissed that Mercedes’ W14 was the quickest race car, insisting that Sainz was likely controlling the pace on his ageing Hard rubber.
Additionally, the seven-time World Champion believes the German marque will be unable to replicate that speed on the high-speed Suzuka track this weekend.
“I don’t know whether that’s really the case [that Mercedes had the best race pace in Singapore],” Hamilton debated.
“Carlos was managing at the front. We were all relatively close, I would say, at the front.
“But what a great race it was, just to have us all that close up front. I think this weekend, I don’t anticipate having the performance we had in the last race.
“We work very hard to continue to try and push the envelope that we have. I’m hoping that we’re not terribly far off this weekend.”
Despite his protracted win drought continuing in Singapore, Hamilton’s third place did elevate him above Fernando Alonso to third in the Drivers’ Championship.