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Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes can fight Ferrari, but not Red Bull

MARINA BAY, Singapore -- Lewis Hamilton doesn't believe Mercedes has the pace to challenge Red Bull in Singapore but is convinced the world champions can go toe-to-toe with championship rivals Ferrari.

Red Bull dominated the opening day of practice with Daniel Ricciardo setting a new lap record on the Marina Bay street circuit. Teammate Max Verstappen finished the day second quickest.

Lewis Hamilton doesn't believe Mercedes has the pace to challenge Red Bull in Singapore. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Hamilton, who is searching for his third win in Singapore, conceded that challenging Red Bull in qualifying might be too far out of reach but ensured Mercedes was doing everything they could to close the gap.

"Red Bull were rapid so we have just got to accept that they are super fast and I don't know if we'll be able to beat them in qualifying," said Hamilton. "We gave it everything we could and we're still not anywhere near Red Bulls they just seemed to be a little bit further ahead today.

"We're going to look at all of the options. Some fundamental things with our car may stop us from getting much quicker but we're going to push as hard as we can and do work overnight and see if we can improve the car.

"I think we are relatively close to Ferrari so hopefully we can fight them which is a good thing."

Of the seven remaining races on the calendar, Singapore is the least suited to the Mercedes package so it's no surprise to see them unable to replicate their blistering Monza form of a fortnight ago.

Ferrari, who was expected to excel at this circuit, has failed to show its true pace as yet with Sebastian Vettel being held up on his first flying lap and tagging the wall on his second.

Should Hamilton outscore his championship rival in Singapore, he would consider it a win.

"We target to win races but again that's not something I'm thinking of," he said. "Of course we want to make sure I'm ahead of Sebastian, so that's my goal."

Author: Jake Michaels, ESPN UK
Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/20714234/lewis-hamilton-says-mercedes-struggle-challenge-red-bull-singapore-qualifying

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