Shocked Hamilton hanging on 'for dear life'
Lewis Hamilton said he was holding on to his Mercedes Formula 1 car "for dear life" in Singapore Grand Prix qualifying and was surprised to struggle so much.
Despite Hamilton being one of only three drivers in the top six to improve on the second runs in Q3, he was still over six tenths of a second behind poleman Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari in fifth as Mercedes again found Singapore a challenge.
"I was holding on to the reins for dear life," said Hamilton.
"I didn't think I'd be this far off.
"This is a horrible track for overtaking. It's going to be a long slog tomorrow.
"We knew coming here it would be difficult. Every year it's been relatively difficult for us.
"I definitely didn't anticipate Ferrari would be as strong as they were. I thought Red Bull would be as quick as they were, but we still remained hopeful.
"I got everything I could out of the car, I gave it everything and more, literally threw the sink at it. Squeezed every single bit out of it."
Asked if he expected Singapore to be the most difficult track for Mercedes in the last part of the season he said: "I don't know, I don't know where Ferrari have picked up their pace.
"It's strange from race to race, it's a little bit different between us."
Hamilton is relying on circumstances playing to his favour in the race.
"This is a tough track for overtaking, it's usually just a long, long train," he said.
"I think it's going to be very difficult. The start is an opportunity, strategy is an opportunity, safety cars, who knows.
"Tomorrow I'm just going to be playing the long game. It's a marathon not a sprint.
"It's going to be physical, it's going to be long, it could be dull.
"I just hope that I can pick some people off, at least get past a Ferrari at the start - that would be really helpful."
Valtteri Bottas was a further seven tenths behind Hamilton in the sister Mercedes in sixth.
"The gaps are too big for us," he told Sky Sports F1.
"Two weeks ago in Monza it was pretty good for us, now we are struggling.
"It just highlights we have issues producing enough downforce and enough mechanical grip at a track like this. So that is an area we really need to work on."