Hamilton backs team to fix Marina Bay headache
Simulator experience not great, but world champion confident all will turn out well
He started from the third row, but swiftly overtook everyone and cruised around the Marina Bay street circuit yesterday.
Then, inexplicably, reigning Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton slowed the simulator to a stop in the middle of the circuit and looked a little unsure, before he climbed out of the cockpit at an appearance at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) yesterday for luxury watch brand IWC Schaffhausen.
One of his loosely secured red high-top sneakers even slipped off as he disembarked from the simulator, which he sheepishly replaced amid an array of camera flashes.
The simulator saga was a reminder of the 31-year-old's troubles on the actual Singapore circuit last year - he struggled all weekend and retired from the race due to a power unit failure - and he will be hoping that his go at the computer programme will not reflect his upcoming weekend here.
Hamilton spent some time in the IWC boutique at the MBS mingling with VIPs before emerging on stage to meet some 400 fans.
Some lucky supporters near the side of the stage even got pictures and autographs, before the tired-looking Briton settled down for questions.
FANS' FAVOURITE: Reigning F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton trying out a race simulator for the Singapore street circuit and mingling with fans (above) at an IWC event at Marina Bay Sands yesterday. TNP PHOTO: ISKANDAR ROSSALI
Known to be a charmer and crowd-pleaser in his previous visits to Singapore, Hamilton was significantly more subdued yesterday.
And he offered little confidence about his car holding up on the 5.065km circuit, which his team principal Toto Wolff and teammate Nico Rosberg have declared to be in favour of the Red Bulls and Ferraris.
Asked if he would "get it right" this weekend, Hamilton said: "We hope so. We learn last year that we somehow got it wrong.
FANS' FAVOURITE: Reigning F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton (above) trying out a race simulator for the Singapore street circuit and mingling with fans at an IWC event at Marina Bay Sands yesterday. TNP PHOTO: ISKANDAR ROSSALI
"A lot of work has gone into understanding that... hopefully it's been rectified and we don't have that problem this weekend.
"We still might run into some problems this weekend, but we will be at least aware of it and we feel we have the tools to be able to correct it.
"I definitely think we are not going to have as big a problem as we did last year.
"It might be that we have none at all but, if we do, I think we have the tools to be able to handle it."
The three-time world champion has won the Singapore race twice - in 2009 and 2014 - and will be hoping that his history on the circuit will give him the edge over frenemy Rosberg, who has never won the race.
The German has won the last two Grands Prix in Belgium and Italy, and is just two points behind Hamilton in the drivers' world championship standings with 248 points.
With the Singapore circuit famous for being a slow, maximum downforce track with many turns, drivers will have to be perfect on every one of the 23 turns, over a maximum of 61 laps.
"It's about getting as close to the walls as possible, braking points and remembering a lot of corners," Hamilton mused.
"I take it sector by sector - usually it's three sectors (in other circuits) but, for one as long as this, I break it down to five or six sectors, and focus on how to get quicker in these sectors.
"You need to get every corner pretty much perfect to get that pole.
"The first segment of the race is tricky, while the middle one is even tighter.
"The last segment you're tired and that's where you'd need to find grip where there's no more grip in your tyres."
"It's not going to be an easy breezy drive," he said separately, in a press release.
"(But) I love a battle, so I am excited to see how it plays out."
WHAT OTHER DRIVERS ARE SAYING
I’m happy there are regulation changes for the future and hopefully it’ll bring people closer together. formula 1 needs that. there are so many good fights behind Mercedes in the rest of formula 1. there are so many good races, but those two (Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg), it’s just too easy for them.
— McLaren’s Jenson Button believes Formula 1 will benefit from a raft of technical and sporting rule changes for the 2017 season if they lead to a reining in of the dominant Mercedes team
When I met Gene Haas — the owner of the team — he explained to me the project and how the team will come into formula 1. It was very intelligent, very clever and well received. for myself, my career, my image, joining a brand new team and being able to score the first few points for the team is a unique experience.
- Haas Ferrari driver Romain Gosjean, talking about life in a new team. The 30-year-old made the switch from Lotus (now renamed Renault), where he spent five years, to American outfit Haas this season
Singapore... awesome result, that was incredible, beating the legend! that was wow... you must be very proud. that’s really an incredible story. What an amazing job he did and he destroyed them, he was on his own. It was really impressive and I was watching that.
- Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg, congratulating Joseph Schooling and Singapore after the swimmer’s 100m butterfly Olympic gold-medal win, where he beat Michael Phelps
Singapore is very unusual. Last year, we got destroyed by Red Bull and ferrari. they were 1.5sec quicker during qualifying and it’s huge. You just can’t change like that overnight. It’s not the easiest weekend, but it is an amazing event. I don’t like the circuit because it is one of the toughest races of the year. I feel horrible from all the sweating... losing up to 4kg in two hours.
- Rosberg’s not exactly a fan of the night race