Getty Images

After back-to-back F1 wins, Hamilton set for closer fight in Singapore

Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton may head into this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix coming off the back of two straight victories, but the Mercedes driver is braced for a closer fight with rival teams Ferrari and Red Bull at Marina Bay.

Hamilton became the first back-to-back race winner in 2017 by sweeping the final two European races of the season at Spa and Monza, moving into the lead of the drivers’ standings for the first time this year in the process.

Hamilton leads Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel by three points at the top of the championship, but with the tight and twisting nature of the street course in Singapore expected to suit the Italian marque well, another swing in momentum could occur.

Another threat to Hamilton comes courtesy of Red Bull, whose RB13 car is also better-fitted to tighter layouts than the high-speed tracks of Spa and Monza, leaving the three-time world champion on his toes.

“I think Red Bull will be fast this weekend. It’s not going to be the easiest of weekends, potentially,” Hamilton conceded on Thursday.

“But man, I’m coming with positivity and with the plan of winning this race. This is still regardless of if that is the case, the others potentially have a little bit more downforce, whatever it is.

“We have worked as hard as we can to understand the car and we come here with full attack.”

Mercedes delivered its most crushing performance of the season so far two weeks ago at Monza, sweeping to a one-two finish with half a minute’s advantage over Ferrari.

After hitting the sweet spot with the Mercedes W08 car in Italy, Hamilton is hopeful it can help the team in Singapore despite being a different type of circuit.

“Our understanding of the car will potentially help this weekend, but you never really know where you are going to be able to place the car,” Hamilton said.

“If we can get the car in a place where we are comfortable and a bit like where we were in the last two races, then we will definitely be strong in the fight.”

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.