Carlos Sainz and George Russell both believe they are in a good position to win the Singapore Grand Prix, but for different reasons after qualifying on the front row.
With Red Bull struggling all weekend, Sainz took advantage to secure his second consecutive pole position and edge out Russell by under 0.1s. Two weeks ago in Monza, Sainz was unable to hold the faster Red Bulls at bay in the race but he says that even though Ferrari doesn’t have the strongest car in terms of race pace, he has a better chance of defending his position in Singapore.
“I’m more confident, mainly because of the track layout,” Sainz said. “I think it’s a bit easier to hold on to our track position. That obviously gives me more confidence than Monza, (but) in terms of pace, I really have no idea how we’re going to be.
“Looking at long-run data from Friday, the Merc, the Aston and the Red Bull did look a bit quicker than us in tire degradation and race pace, so it could be that tomorrow we have to run, yet again, a bit of a defensive race. I don’t discount that even around this track we could hold on to a P1 because it’s a lot more difficult to pass than other tracks this season, but our race pace still looks like our weakest point.”
However, Russell points to the fact that Mercedes has retained two sets of medium tires for the race as an advantage as it opens up more strategic options on a weekend where the one-stop looks quickest but safety cars often play a role.
“To be honest, I think we were (expecting a strong performance),” Russell said. “We know that on the high-downforce circuits, we tend to go better. Ferrari always fast on the street circuits, C5 tire. So we knew there’d be quick. Red Bull are obviously a big surprise — not too sure what’s gone on there. Their long-run pace didn’t seem stellar, either. So this is a great opportunity, this weekend, to get a victory.
“We’ve got a different tire strategy to every other car on the grid out there. We’ve got two mediums. So, we’re the only team who’ve got the chance to do a one-stop or two stops, so that really gives us a great chance for tomorrow.”
Actually, Oscar Piastri and both Williams drivers have two sets of mediums as well, but Russell’s is the only car in the top 10 with such an option and he says that will allow him to attack.
“I’ll definitely be going for it. I think that will make our life easier,” Russell said. “I think we’ve got the pace over Ferrari in the race but, as I said, we’ve got a strategic advantage over them. So, I’m pretty relaxed, even if we are P2 after Turn 1 — or even P3, because we’re the only team who can do a two-stop race. Tire deg looks bad and I hope we’re going to put them in a challenging position to fend this off. So, I’m feeling good — I’m feeling excited.”