Mercedes needs "enormous" pace difference to beat Leclerc

Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff expects it to be "really difficult" to overtake Singapore Grand Prix poleman Charles Leclerc without an "enormous" pace difference.

Mercedes needs "enormous" pace difference to beat Leclerc

Leclerc surprised Mercedes and Red Bull by putting his Ferrari on pole position, although Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton will line up alongside him.

Hamilton has hounded Leclerc in the past two grands prix but such relentless pressure comes at a bigger cost in Singapore, which is a long race that takes its toll on the drivers, cars and tyres.

Wolff said: "I think it's more difficult here, it's a little bit like Monaco, maybe not as bad, where it's really difficult to overtake – especially when they are fast down the straight – unless the pace difference is enormous.

"We don't expect that [pace difference]. Nevertheless we're going into the race tomorrow full steam ahead. The points are being awarded tomorrow, not today."

Read Also:

Hamilton has won the last two grands prix in Singapore and taken four victories in total at the Marina Bay circuit.

Mercedes had an advantage during Friday practice's long-run work but Wolff is not convinced that will be enough to overhaul Ferrari now Leclerc has track position.

"Obviously if you're fast on one lap you've got to have the heat in the tyres for this one lap and it's something that can bite you on a race distance," said.

"But having said that once you are in front you have a decent opportunity in managing from there. I'd rather be on pole with a slightly compromised car than have a great race car but not be on pole."

Hamilton's final lap in Q3 got him onto the front row ahead of the second Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.

He believes that could be a significant factor for today's race.

"Charles obviously put some great laps in and it really needed something special at the end so I gave it absolutely everything I had," he said.

"It was very, very close to the wall a couple of times but it was as much as I could get out of the car.

"I'm very, very happy to be on the front row in the mix with them so we can try to divide them [in the race]."

Hamilton questioned whether Leclerc's driving in their fierce battle in the Italian Grand Prix was legitimate but said afterwards he would change his approach if the rules have been clarified.

After qualifying in Singapore he said "tomorrow we can be aggressive", and when asked if that meant "different to Monza", Hamilton replied: "Ha! Well, it's a street track, but we'll see."

shares
comments
Haas data mismatch prompts Grosjean spec experiment

Previous article

Haas data mismatch prompts Grosjean spec experiment

Next article

FIA approves extra Pirelli 2020 tyre test

FIA approves extra Pirelli 2020 tyre test
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Event Singapore GP
Teams Mercedes
Author Scott Mitchell
Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish” Prime

Why Bottas feels the time has come to be “more selfish”

We’ve seen five distinct versions of Valtteri Bottas at Mercedes as he’s tried to fulfil his own ambitions while being a consummate team player – two difficult, competing missions which have been challenging to reconcile. Speaking exclusively to Stuart Codling, Bottas explains his highs and lows… and why he still believes he can be world champion.

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021