Leclerc admits lack of confidence as Vettel targets Red Bull in Singapore

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Sebastian Vettel believes Red Bull could be within striking distance in qualifying after a reasonable Friday in Singapore.

The German finished third fastest in second practice, albeit eight-tenths off the pace set by Lewis Hamilton and almost seven-tenths back from Max Verstappen.

But offering his assessment of the top two, Vettel believes it is the five-time world champion that holds a clear advantage. 

“I think Mercedes was very strong today, but I think you could see that not just on one lap and on the timings,” Vettel said. “I think overall, they were a bit faster."

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After strong circuits at Spa and Monza, it was always anticipated the streets of Marina Bay would be much tougher for Ferrari.

Even so, the four-time winner of the night race doesn't think the gap tells the full story.

"On our side, I think we can do better, I think we can improve the car, so let’s see," he surmised.

"Balance [was lacking]. Just to distribute the grip a bit differently, I’m suffering a bit with the front, then on long runs, everything was getting a bit too hot and sliding a bit too much.

“Our laps on the short run were also not very clean because we got traffic I think both of us, so not great to judge, but overall I think we can fine-tune the balance, improve the car, and then we’ll see what comes."

As a result... “Difficult to say where Red Bull was today, I don’t know if their runs were clean," Vettel continued.

"So tomorrow I think in qualifying you have enough tyres and enough shots to have a fair say. We’ll see. It should be okay. I hope we’re not too far out.”

Singapore GP 2019 - Friday - Charles Leclerc - Marina Bay 2019

As for teammate Charles Leclerc, a gearbox problem in the morning triggered a tough day on Singapore's streets as he finished sixth, 1.2s off the pace.

“In FP1 obviously we had an issue, so I missed a few laps which are always important on a street track,” he noted.

“In FP2 I just didn’t feel confident with the car, but also with the track, so I need to work for tomorrow, try to improve the driving.

“It's no big deal, it happened quite many times that on a Friday I was not where I wanted to be, so I need to work and hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.”

Asked if the lack of confidence under the lights was a consequence of his lost track time, Leclerc replied: “It definitely doesn’t help to lack laps in FP1, but it’s not an excuse.

“I believe it’s also coming from myself, simple as that. I need to work on that, and tomorrow will be better.”

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