Charles Leclerc claimed his third pole position in a row as Ferrari surprised pre-event favourites Mercedes and Red Bull in qualifying, though Hamilton was able to split the two Ferraris in second.
Ferrari has brought a significant upgrade to this race, including a revised nose, cape and floor, which appears to have provided the aerodynamic gains needed for the team to be more competitive on high-downforce tracks like the Singapore street circuit.
Asked by Motorsport.com how ominous it was for Ferrari to have added more aerodynamic performance to its strong straightline speed, Hamilton said: “I don’t know where they have picked up their pace for a street circuit like this.
“Earlier on in the year they were not as close. They’ve obviously done a great job.
“I don’t really know where we’re losing it, the first sector is a bit of a loss to us, part of it is a straight line but they are able to match us in the middle and the last sector.
“Overall, clearly a big step for then. We’ll just keep pushing. We’ve not had an upgrade for a while so maybe when that comes that will help us a little bit.”
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Hamilton said that Mercedes knew Red Bull would be competitive again in Singapore but admitted Ferrari had produced a surprise given its previous form at high-downforce venues has “not been so strong”.
“All of a sudden they’ve brought an upgrade here and it seems to have worked,” he said.
“Of course we were not expecting to have such a strong performance from them and have such a deficit to them, but they’ve done a great job.
“I was grateful I was able to split them, only just. We were lacking pace today.
“It was definitely a struggle to be up there, but I like how close it was between us all. Hopefully that puts us in a good stead for good fights.”
Poleman Leclerc hailed the work Ferrari has done with its upgraded after expressing his own surprise at the pace he had.
“It’s quite a big surprise for the whole team, but it just proves how good of a job they’ve done back at the factory and today it’s also thanks to them we’re on pole.”
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