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Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas confident Mercedes can fight rivals in Singapore

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas hope Mercedes' strong one-lap pace can help negate some of the advantage expected to be held by Ferrari and Red Bull in Singapore.

Mercedes is braced for a challenging weekend on what has become something of a bogey track since the start of the V6 turbo era it has otherwise dominated. By contrast, main title rivals Ferrari have been strongest this year on high downforce tracks like the Marina Bay circuit and appear to be strong favourites going into the weekend, something both its drivers have been quick to play down going into the weekend.

Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari (left) with Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images
Red Bull is also confident the weekend is its best chance of claiming another win this season but Hamilton, who moved three points ahead of Sebastian Vettel by winning the Italian Grand Prix, does not think Mercedes will be far behind.

"I don't think it's going to be a big advantage," Hamilton said of the threat of Red Bull and Ferrari. "Our understanding is that the car will potentially help this weekend but you never really know where you'll be able to place the car so if we can get the car in a place that's comfortable, a bit like we were in the last two races, then I think we will definitely be strong in the fight."

Often this year Ferrari has appeared to have a slight edge over Mercedes on race pace, but the German team's ability to use a quicker engine mode in qualifying has often given it crucial track position going into the grand prix. Valtteri Bottas thinks that could be crucial to Mercedes' chances of a strong result.

"I think here definitely qualifying is really important, and normally we have had a good car in qualifying," Bottas said. We're coming to this weekend definitely knowing that it's not one of our strongest circuits, maybe one of the most difficult ones, but still we believe we can have a strong result. If we can get the car well set-up for qualifying, I'm sure we can have a good race from there also."

Though Bottas shares Mercedes' cautious approach to the weekend, he also echos his teammate's opinion that the team will be closer to the front than people think.

"Honestly I think it will be difficult. The aero package we have here is completely different from what we had in Monza and as we saw there, we were really, really competitive there and really efficient. We have been struggling in places like Monaco and Budapest, on high downforce tracks, but we have some small updates here, there are more on the way, but we just need to try and get into the right place -- as we've seen it hasn't been the easiest car to set-up right.

"We are going into it with a neutral approach, not thinking we're going to be completely far from the front. We go with an open mind and the target of having a strong weekend."

Author: Nate Saunders, ESPN UK
Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/20702780/lewis-hamilton-valtteri-bottas-confident-mercedes-fight-rivals-singapore

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