Lewis Hamilton was pleased with the way things had gone in Singapore on Friday, after finishing the evening session second fastest just 0.011s off the pace of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

The pair were half a second clear of the rest of the field, with Sebastian Vettel missing out on much of the session after tapping the wall.

That’s looking good for the Silver Arrows, who recognise Singapore as one of their ‘bogey’ events of the season.

“It’s looking like it might be a three-way fight between Ferrari, Red Bull and us,” said an upbeat Hamilton. “The track is incredible; we’re a lot quicker than we were last year.”

Hamilton had been only sixth fastest in the first practice in the late afternoon sunshine, but he explained that this hadn’t been an accurate display of the team’s form.

“The first session of the day was good, even though it might not show on the timesheets as we didn’t use the hypersoft tyres,” he said. “We got through our programme, tried some different options and got some good results from it.

“We were close to the Ferraris, but we will only find out tomorrow how quick they really are.”

Valtteri Bottas was only fifth fastest in FP2, putting him behind the two Red Bull cars and 0.669s behind Raikkonen’s top time.

“Both Ferrari and Red Bull looked very quick, but we were not far off,” the Finn insisted. “I didn’t get a really good lap together, but it seemed like the pace was there, so hopefully it’s going to be a really close qualifying tomorrow.

“The car has been improved massively in the high-downforce trim. It is much quicker, even compared to the beginning of the season,” he added.

“I think we have a lot of possibilities for a good result this weekend, but we need to get the car absolutely right to challenge Ferrari and Red Bull.”

The team’s technical director James Allison agreed that they had a lot of work ahead of them to prepare for Saturday’s qualifying session, and for the race itself on Sunday.

“We got the car pretty happy for a single lap in the second session,” Allison said after FP2. “Likewise, the long-run pace seems to be in the mix.

“There is still more work to do: we want to cure some nervousness under braking and Valtteri’s balance wasn’t quite right in his long runs.

“But if we compare the situation to what we experienced last year, then today’s running makes us more confident that we are in the hunt this weekend.”

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