Street-fighter Hamil­ton out for Sin­ga­pore sting

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Lewis Hamil­ton will aim to plunge a dag­ger into Se­bas­tian Vet­tel’s ti­tle am­bi­tions by up­set­ting his ex­pected march to vic­tory in Sin­ga­pore

Lewis Hamil­ton will aim to plunge a dag­ger into Se­bas­tian Vet­tel's world ti­tle am­bi­tions by up­set­ting his ex­pected march to vic­tory in Sin­ga­pore - two weeks af­ter ru­in­ing Fer­rari's an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions at Monza.

Hamil­ton is dis­tinctly sec­ond favourite against his ti­tle ri­val at the twist­ing, turn­ing and sti­flingly hot Marina Bay street cir­cuit, which plays to Fer­rari's strengths and where Vet­tel has won four of the nine races.

But an un­ex­pected vic­tory for the Mercedes driver, who edged to the front of the stand­ings by just three points with his wire-towire win in Italy, would set alarm bells ring­ing at Fer­rari. The Ital­ians will be smart­ing af­ter Hamil­ton's crush­ing tri­umph at their home cir­cuit this month - spoil­ing their 70th an­niver­sary party, and earn­ing boos on the podium from irate fans.

An­other dis­ap­point­ment on Sun­day in Sin­ga­pore, the 14th of 20 races and the un­of­fi­cial start of the ti­tle run-in, would de­flate op­ti­mism of Fer­rari's first world ti­tle in a decade.

Fer­rari's down­force is a key weapon at the 23-cor­ner street cir­cuit, whose lack of long straights tra­di­tion­ally nul­li­fies Mercedes' high-speed ad­van­tage and puts over­tak­ing at a pre­mium.

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said the Ger­man mar­que faced a dif­fi­cult week­end - but he will take heart from the fact that in five of the last seven sea­sons, the win­ning driver in Italy also took the che­quered flag in Sin­ga­pore.

"So far this year, we have seen the pen­du­lum swing ac­cord­ing to cir­cuit type. On the sur­face, Sin­ga­pore is the kind of cir­cuit that should favour both Fer­rari and Red Bull," said Wolff.

"Both have shown strong per­for­mance on low-speed cir­cuits de­mand­ing max­i­mum down­force, and we have found life more dif­fi­cult at those places in 2017."

But Wolff added, "We have made good progress in un­der­stand­ing what we need to do in or­der to get the most from the chas­sis... It's a week­end when ev­ery part of the team needs to be at its best if you wish to score a strong fin­ish.

Hamil­ton's blis­ter­ing form in qual­i­fy­ing this year, which saw him take a world-record 69th pole po­si­tion in Monza, also gives Mercedes a chance. All but two of the races in Sin­ga­pore have been won from pole and Hamil­ton is on a roll, hav­ing won three of the last four grands prix.

The three-time world cham­pion Hamil­ton, who penned a po­etic trib­ute to mark 20 years since the death of Princess Diana, was also moved to wax lyri­cal about his per­for­mances be­hind the wheel.

"I def­i­nitely feel like I have found more heart and pas­sion within my­self in the last three or four races," he said at Monza.

"Sil­ver­stone was an em­pow­er­ing week­end and that has kind of sparked a for­est fire in me and that is hope­fully re­flect­ing in my driv­ing.

"While I feel like I al­ways drive with my heart - my heart is re­ally the en­gine, the power and the force be­hind what I do - my mind is like the rud­der, and I feel like it has been steer­ing me in the right di­rec­tion."

Red Bull's Daniel Ric­cia­rdo will also ap­proach the week­end with con­fi­dence af­ter reach­ing the podium on his last three trips to Sin­ga­pore.

"(It's) one of our best chances of a win in the sec­ond half of the sea­son," said the Aus­tralian, who won in Azer­bai­jan and lies fourth in the stand­ings.

I def­i­nitely feel like I have found more heart and pas­sion within my­self in the last three or four races

Lewis Hamil­ton

Lewis Hamil­ton

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