Lewis Hamilton admits he thought Mercedes could have secured a 1-2 finish in the Singapore Grand Prix after both drivers made a second stop during a late Virtual Safety Car.

Hamilton ended the race in third place after inheriting the final podium position from team-mate George Russell, who crashed out on the final lap.

The Mercedes pair had stopped for fresh Mediums when a Virtual Safety Car was called on Lap 44 to remove the stricken Alpine of Esteban Ocon.

While they were able to breeze past a struggling Charles Leclerc and caught the leading pair, the Mercedes drivers were unable to find a way past Lando Norris to have a go at Carlos Sainz.

Hamilton, who concedes his tough qualifying hindered his race prospects, asserts he was alert to the possibility of Mercedes seizing a remarkable 1-2 in the closing stages.

“It was okay. I think ultimately just not that great a weekend, but the team did a fantastic job with the strategy, the guys did a great job in the pit stop, just faultless on that side,” Hamilton said.

“I just made it really difficult for myself with a poor performance yesterday.

“But exciting at the end for us as a team. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get George because you need a big delta to overtake, but I thought we might be able to get a one-two but unfortunately we didn’t do it.”

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14; George Russell (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W14 and Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL60 battle for position.
17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day.
– www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, meanwhile, was frustrated to lose out on points in the Constructors’ Championship to Ferrari, who won the race with Sainz.

“Super that Lewis is on the podium,” he told Sky Sports F1. “He had a brilliant race and had pace at the end. Just a shame for George because he worked hard for that.

“It could have been a good third and fourth, lots of points, but now we lost 22 [points] against Ferrari.”

Wolff admitted that Mercedes had zero chance of winning the race unless the team had gambled under the VSC.

“It was so difficult to win the race if we were just static,” he added. “So we said let’s go for it and we just went for it and in the end it’s a podium for Lewis and that’s great.

“I don’t think we would have been able to win [by staying out] that’s why we took the risk. We knew worst case it was third and fifth, best case the win.”

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