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Horner plays down Merc advantage

Christian Horner has downplayed the pace advantage Lewis Hamilton had in the closing stages of the Singapore GP, confident Red Bull are “a lot closer”.

Following a Safety Car period in Sunday’s race at the Marina Bay circuit, Hamilton, who was leading, easily pulled away from the chasing Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo.

Such was his advantage per lap that when Hamilton pitted for a third time, he was 25.2s ahead of Vettel – a gap he achieved in just 15 laps.

As a result, he came out in second place behind Vettel and two laps later was back in first place.

And although all that made it look as if Hamilton was in a vastly dominate position, Horner says it was closer than that.

“The gap to Mercedes was skewed after the pace car due to how the strategies panned out,” the team boss told Autosport.

“In the first stint, Sebastian was able to go reasonably well with Lewis, and I think Lewis pulled out seven seconds up to his first stop.

“It wasn’t like they were pulling out a second a lap on us, so certainly I think we were closer to them.

“They had an advantage, but we were certainly a lot closer than in some of the previous races.”

The Brit, though, admitted that the nature of the circuit played a role and that at other tracks, such as Abu Dhabi, Mercedes could pull away from the chasing pack.

“On circuits like Singapore we can get closer, but the reality is that the horsepower difference we have is a big factor.

“So while we closed the gap last weekend, at some of the tracks coming up – like Abu Dhabi and perhaps Sochi – it’s going to extend again.

“The key for us is the work we do over the winter and hopefully we can come out of the starting blocks next year having closed that gap.”

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