Vettel energised for fight

Ferrari fans' fervour will spur him in S'pore as he aims to regain lead on favoured track

MONZA • Sebastian Vettel refused to be downcast on Sunday after surrendering the Formula One championship lead to Lewis Hamilton on a dominant day for Mercedes and a difficult one for Ferrari.

With the Italian team's home crowd cheering as he stood on the podium, despite trailing in third and half a minute behind race winner Hamilton, Vettel said he was energised for the battles ahead.

"For sure, they are giving us a very, very hard time, especially at the moment, but we'll see," the German told reporters.

"I think it's been amazing, the power of the people, to see so many fans for Ferrari is unbelievable.

"Overall, it has been amazing so far and I know that we only get stronger with a strong car, so I'm in a very, very positive mood."

Ferrari had arrived for their home race knowing that it was likely to favour Mercedes but were encouraged by a strong showing in Belgium the previous weekend when Vettel was on Hamilton's tail all the way.

There have been races this season where the Italian team have dominated, and they could well do so again in Singapore in less than two weeks' time.

Vettel is three points behind Hamilton (238) with seven of the 20 races remaining; Ferrari are 62 points adrift of Mercedes (435).

"For me, it looks like this weekend Ferrari have taken a step back," said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff after another one-two finish for the Silver Arrows.

"I think we were very solid, but they (Ferrari) have not performed in the way everybody expected."

Mercedes will, however, need to be wary as the F1 circus leaves Europe behind and heads to the Marina Bay Street Circuit - a high downforce track, which is expected to suit the Ferraris and also the Red Bulls.

Red Bull took grid penalties on both of their cars at Monza, starting 13th and 16th so they could make changes to their engines.

And team principal Christian Horner admitted that they had done so to target the night race in Singapore. "I would hope Ferrari are worrying about us," he said.

For Wolff, he is hopeful that his team can buck the trend of a campaign in which Mercedes have noticeably struggled at low-speed circuits.

REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 05, 2017, with the headline 'Vettel energised for fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe