Formula 1 world championship leader Lewis Hamilton believes Mercedes could have “easily won” the Singapore Grand Prix had it taken the “risk” to carry out an undercut strategy.

Hamilton kept within touching distance of Leclerc throughout the opening stint and looked in prime position to capitalise with a potential undercut strategy, but Mercedes opted to keep Hamilton out and extend his stint.

The Briton stayed out for an extra six laps but his pace dropped off dramatically, meaning he emerged behind both Ferrari drivers and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen following his pit stop. Hamilton was ultimately unable to progress through the order and finished fourth.

“I knew that we should have undercut,” Hamilton said.

“I knew it this morning as well in the brief, I was like I should take the risk, but they didn’t.

“But we win and lose together as a team so we will take this on our chin.

“It’s painful for us because we could have easily won today but it just didn’t work out.”

Ferrari was expecting to struggle in Singapore with Mercedes tipped as the pre-race favourites, but a revised aerodynamic package helped the Scuderia secure a surprise pole position, which it converted into a 1-2 finish and third victory in a row as Sebastian Vettel ended his F1 victory drought. 

Hamilton said it feels like Ferrari is currently “hungrier” than Mercedes and urged his team to keep pushing.

“It feels like they are hungrier than us,” Hamilton conceded. “We’ve just got to step it up.

“We’ve got the ability and we’ve got the team, we’re still the best team. We’ve just got to stop dragging our feet and get on.

“We’ll debrief or re-huddle, get back in the scrum and come back fighting at the next race.”