Vettel plays down Ferrari advantage at Singapore

Valtteri Bottas left is trailing Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton right and Sebastian Vettel in the drivers title race. Wong Maye  AP

"We have no idea until we get there what the picture's going to look like but I think we learned a lot from the past but on a hot track, Ferrari are often better in hot places". "Whatever happens along the way happens".

Ricciardo was, on average, half a second ahead of Hamilton as he seeks to disrupt the pattern of Mercedes and Ferrari trading blows, having done so at a dramatic Azerbaijan Grand Prix in June.

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said the German marque faced a hard weekend - but he will take heart from the fact that in five of the last seven seasons, the winning driver in Italy also took the chequered flag in Singapore.

Ferrari and Red Bull will fancy their chances around this track, which has the highest number of corners (23) from any track that is part of the Formula 1 calendar.

Hamilton's record in Singapore is poor in recent years, too.

It's a mindset which has served Hamilton particularly well since the summer break, but it won't be until Friday practice that Mercedes truly begin to get a feel on whether the 2017 Singapore GP weekend is likely to be more about damage limitation or race-winning opportunity.

Whilst Ferrari are acknowledged as the favourites to dominate in Singapore, the Red Bull engine is equally-suited for battle in round 13. It hasn't come close to matching the Scuderia or championship leader Mercedes for pace. But the reigning champions endured an uncharacteristically off-colour weekend in 2015, when Vettel won for Ferrari instead.

"We have worked as hard as we can to understand the auto and we come here with a full attack".

"Since 2014 I felt if I was in a Mercedes I believed I could have won and previous year as well".

A general view taken from Swissotel the Stamford shows the illuminated circuit for the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix night race on Sunday. Roslan Rahman  AFP
Red Bull and Renault set to split after 2018: Reports

A one-year deal could leave Bottas vulnerable at the end of next season, with Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo among the drivers who will become available. They locked out the front row and then claimed a comfortable race-day one-two, with Mercedes also beaten by Red Bull into fourth.

"I've started second and finished second at this track in the last two years, with fastest lap both times", he said.

All eyes will also be on McLaren, with a split from engine partner Honda and new relationship with Renault set to be announced imminently.

Sainz's heavily-mooted move from Toro Rosso to Renault would see him replace Englishman Jolyon Palmer, with reports indicating that the switch could be triggered in time for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, though, the four-time champion was refusing to buy into the hype.

"Do I want to win with them?"

"It's still better than the original contract I had", he said.

"For sure the team always wants to have options open for the future, I understand 100 per cent".

After news dropped of Valtteri Bottas signing an extension to remain at Mercedes, all three top teams - Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull - will go into 2018 with unchanged line-ups.


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