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Singapore GP: Charles Leclerc says Ferrari expecting ‘more difficult weekend’


Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc has had seven podium finishes in 2019 for Ferrari including wins in Belgium and Italy

Charles Leclerc, winner of the last two races in Belgium and Italy, says his Ferrari team are expecting a “more difficult weekend” in Singapore.

The south-east Asian street track, the first of seven long-haul races that remain this season, is not expected to suit Ferrari’s car.

“The race in Singapore doesn’t look as good on paper for us,” said Leclerc.

“That’s because of the very different circuit layout, with lots of slow corners and fewer straights.”

Vettel under pressure after mistake at Monza

The 21-year-old Leclerc broke Ferrari’s victory duck this season with his two wins in Spa and Monza, circuits where engine performance and straight-line speed are the dominant characteristics in determining lap time.

Singapore’s Marina Bay Circuit is tight and twisty, and features 21 corners, where Ferrari’s performance has been lacking compared to Mercedes and Red Bull because of a deficit in aerodynamic downforce.

Leclerc’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel is under the spotlight as a result of an error he made in Italy, spinning on his own and then colliding with another car when he attempted to rejoin the track.

The four-time champion, who has been out-qualified by the Monaco driver for the past seven races and is now behind his team-mate in the championship, was given a stop-and-go penalty and three points on his licence, which means he faces a race ban if he commits another major driving offence in the next three grand prix.

Vettel is a four-time winner in Singapore, and said: “Singapore is a track I really enjoy. It’s a street circuit, bumpy and with no room for errors and it’s one of the few races run under lights.

“We have seen before that anything can happen in this race, so the final result is hard to predict.”

Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said the team would be taking upgrades to their car to Singapore in an attempt to reduce their deficit to their competitors.

‘There are no home runs at a track like Singapore’

Lewis Hamilton has won four times previously in Singapore – 2009 for McLaren, 2014, 2017 and 2018 for Mercedes

Mercedes head into the Singapore weekend as favourites, as their car has been particularly strong on tracks with lots of slow corners this season.

Lewis Hamilton, who won the race last season after taking pole position with one of the best laps of his career, will be looking to take another step towards his sixth world title.

He enters the weekend 65 points clear of team-mate Valtteri Bottas. The Finn is 36 points clear of Dutchman Max Verstappen in his Red Bull, who is just three in front of Leclerc.

Red Bull are expected to be Mercedes’ closest rivals in Singapore, where poor air quality as a result of fires burning in neighbouring Indonesia is a concern going into a race renowned as the toughest of the season because of the hot and humid tropical climate.

Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff said: “For a long time, Singapore used to be one of our weakest tracks, but we’ve made some inroads into that and performed well last year.

“However, there are no home runs at a track like Singapore: we need to understand this car and this year’s tyres on a very particular track layout and take absolutely nothing for granted in our approach to the weekend. We are looking forward to a tough battle.”

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