Although the Marina Bay
circuit has more overtaking possibilities than its European cousin in Monaco, Lewis Hamilton
admits that he was grateful to have a car - and lap - good enough to claim pole position in Singapore.
The Briton produced two laps good enough to secure top spot in the final phase of qualifying on Saturday night, and has the cushion of Pastor Maldonado
between himself and Sebastian Vettel, who appeared to only rival to the McLaren
man during the build-up to the session. However, with the race - the first of seven late-season 'flyaways' - likely to threaten the two-hour maximum, Hamilton is not expecting an easy Sunday.
"It is [a very tough track], and I think everyone here will see that tomorrow," he explained, "I think we all felt that with our long runs, [but] hopefully we've done the work we need to do to put together a good package tomorrow. We've put ourselves in the best position so I hope that we will be able to capitalise on that tomorrow.
"The guys have done a fantastic job all week, and to come here with some small things that have improved from the last race. We have high downforce here, so we weren't sure where we would turn out against the others, [and] obviously Sebastian was incredibly fast through most of the sessions. I'm not really sure what happened [to him] in the end [but], nonetheless, I'm very happy that I was able to pull that time out. It was a great lap, I'm very happy with it.
"It is [very tricky around here]. Just trying to find the gaps is quite difficult, particularly in Q1, and making sure your tyres are up to temperature, making sure your brakes are up to temperature without using them before you start your lap. The first few laps I did on the prime were quite poor and I feel very fortunate that I was able to get at least one lap on them, so I didn't have to go again...."
Tyres figure to be a determining factor in Sunday's race, with Pirelli themselves admitting that three stops could be necessary to get the choice of soft and supersoft through the 61 laps, but Singapore has also attracted a reputation for requiring the use of the safety car, and Hamilton admits that he will have to be ready for all eventualities.
"It's an incredibly tough circuit for tyre degradation, especially as it's hot and humid here," Hamilton confirmed, "I think everyone is going to struggle with that, and I think we just have to try and get away cleanly at the start and stick to the strategy that we have planned and be prepared if it doesn't work. You can overtake here.
"I think, as drivers, we just have to be ready to react, hope that it's neither of us [involved in causing the safety car] and then just leave it to the team to work on what we have to do. They will direct what we have to do fuel-wise and all those kind of things. I think, this weekend, there seems to be a bigger gap between all the drivers and teams, so perhaps that will allow bigger gaps throughout the race. Maybe....."