Lewis Hamilton taken aback by Ferrari’s Singapore speed

Lewis Hamilton says he and Mercedes have been taken aback by the performance level shown by rivals Ferrari so far during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend.

Mercedes and Red Bull had been tipped as favourites at Marina Bay due to the nature of the circuit layout, while Ferrari was expected to struggle compared to its recent results.

Such a narrative was played out through Friday as Hamilton and Max Verstappen finished comfortably clear of the field, but Ferrari emerged as a contender on Saturday.

Charles Leclerc led the way through final practice and was competitive throughout the three-stage qualifying session to claim his third pole position in succession.

Hamilton was able to split the Ferrari drivers to secure a berth on the front-row of the grid.

“We obviously came into the weekend knowing that we’d have a fight with the Red Bulls,” said Hamilton.

“It was just knowing how the Ferraris have been in other places with high downforce and not been so strong, Budapest for example, then all of a sudden they’ve bought an upgrade here and it seems to have worked.

“Of course we were not expecting to have such a strong performance from them and have that deficit to them, but they did a great job.

“I’m grateful that I was able to split them, only just, but we were definitely lacking pace today.

“I mean I don’t know where they picked up their pace obviously, for a street circuit like this, earlier on in the year they weren’t as close.

“They’ve obviously done a great job. I don’t really know where we’re losing it, obviously, the first sector is a bit of a loss to us.

“Some part of it is straight line, but they can match us in the middle and last sector. I think just overall clearly a big step by them. We’ll just keep pushing. We’ve not had an upgrade for a while. I think when that comes it’ll help us a little bit.”