Vet­tel, Raikko­nen down­play Fer­rari’s ‘favourite’ tag for S’pore Grand Prix

Today - - SINGAPORE | SPORTS -

SIN­GA­PORE — They may be re­garded as favourites for Sun­day’s Sin­ga­pore Grand Prix (GP) be­cause of their cars’ abil­ity to gen­er­ate more down­force — a trait which al­lows them to bet­ter nav­i­gate the no­to­ri­ously twisty Ma­rina Bay street cir­cuit — but Fer­rari driv­ers Se­bas­tian Vet­tel and Kimi Raikko­nen be­lieve this week­end’s race will not be a straight­for­ward one.

The Ital­ian team, along with Red Bull, are ex­pected to dom­i­nate the race in the Repub­lic, with cur­rent lead­ers Mercedes ex­pected to strug­gle on the low-speed cir­cuit.

It all points to a golden op­por­tu­nity for Vet­tel, 30, to take the lead in the driv­ers’ cham­pi­onship come Sun­day. He is cur­rently sec­ond in the standweather’s ings on 235 points, just three points be­hind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

How­ever, Vet­tel, who is the most suc­cess­ful F1 driver at the Sin­ga­pore GP with four wins, in­sists it will still be a close fight for the top of the podium, and re­fused to rule Mercedes out of the run­ning for the che­quered flag.

“In the­ory, our car should be a bit bet­ter here ... but I think it’ll still be a close race,” Vet­tel said dur­ing a Fer­rari press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day. “We’ve seen that it’s al­ways very close no mat­ter where we go, even on the tracks that we think suits a par­tic­u­lar team.

“So I don’t go with the the­ory that we are favourites for the race ... I go with what we have, what I’ll feel on the track and how the car per­forms. It’s im­por­tant to trust the car, and there’s no rea­son to be­lieve the car shouldn’t be any good. How good it’ll be, how­ever, we’ll find out (this week­end).”

Agree­ing, Raikko­nen added that there also were many other vari­ables to con­sider that could af­fect the out­come of the race.

“I don’t know whether we’re favourites or not ... it’s not in our minds, and we’ll have the same dis­cus­sions that we have in every race,” said the 37-yearold. “Even if you say this track favours one team over the other, it doesn’t guar­an­tee any­thing ... it de­pends on things like the weather, the safety car, and what hap­pens in the race.”

Both driv­ers were beaten to the top of the podium by Hamilton at last week­end’s Ital­ian GP in Monza, which is the home race of Fer­rari.

Vet­tel, who fin­ished third in Italy, says he is ea­ger to make amends in Sin­ga­pore, but claims he feels no added pres­sure to se­cure a vic­tory here.

“If you have the chance to win but you don’t, then yes, it’ll be a let-down. But if you don’t have a chance to win, and you don’t, then you don’t feel that bad,” the Ger­man ex­plained.

“I think it’s more im­por­tant to have the lead af­ter the fi­nal race of the sea­son in Abu Dhabi. What­ever hap­pens on the way is not as im­por­tant.

“The tar­get is clear, but we have a lot of races and still have time to get points, and what counts are the re­sults at the end.” NOAH TAN

So I don’t go with the the­ory that we are favourites for the race ... I go with what we have, what I’ll feel on the track and how the car per­forms. Se­bas­tian Vet­tel Fer­rarI drIver, WHO Has tHe best recOrd IN tHe sIN­Ga­POre GP

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