McLaren take momentum into Singapore night race
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso will be out to protect his 37-point lead in the drivers' championship but the momentum is with McLaren as Formula One leaves Europe for Sunday's night race at Singapore.
McLaren have won the last three races and Lewis Hamilton heads into the weekend looking to further close the gap on championship leader Alonso following his Italian Grand Prix victory at Monza earlier this month.
"We're now inching closer to the finishing line - and this is where it starts to get exciting," Hamilton said.
"After winning in Hungary and Monza, I head to Singapore full of positivity and optimism that we can take the title fight to Fernando."
The night race on the streets of Singapore has become a favourite with Formula One drivers, with Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who won the race last year, one of the circuit's fans.
"Singapore is one of the highlights on the calendar, because the atmosphere of a night race is amazing," he said.
"I also like it because the track is really great to race on - which is partly to do with the fact that we race anticlockwise there."
Fellow German Michael Schumacher is also a fan of the circuit, the Mercedes driver saying: "It's a brilliantly unusual race. At first sight, everything seems more relaxed because the action happens at night, but of course it's not like that at all.
"The reality is that you have to work hard to stay on European time and in the right bio-rhythms, so that you can perform perfectly in the race - because it's unusual to be competing at this time of day.
"The nice thing is that the circuit is very technically demanding and it's very tricky to get a perfect lap."
Hamilton, who still has not committed himself to McLaren next season, said: "I enjoy the Marina Bay circuit in the same way that I like racing at the Hungaroring - it's a darty track that requires you to really be on top of the car to get the best from it.
"It requires more finesse, though: most of the braking zones are approached at very high speed, and the walls are never far away. Factor in the heat and humidity and it's a very challenging weekend."
Alonso has 179 points in the standings, with Hamilton on 142, just ahead of Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus) on 141, Vettel on 140, Mark Webber (Red Bull) on 132 and Jenson Button (McLaren) on 101.
Since Alonso's last victory, in Germany on July 22, Mclaren have won in Hungary (Hamilton), Belgium (Button) and Italy (Hamilton).
McLaren indicated they might put a greater emphasis on qualifying performance this weekend after the last four races have seen the driver on pole take victory.
"It does seem there is a trend about being able to control the car and the use of the tyres if you're leading from the front," technical director Paddy Lowe said. "We've certainly noticed it and it may cause us to do some things differently."
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh also said there would be "no let-up with the aggressive development of the MP4-27 until the end of the year."
"This season is far from over. We are continuing to refine and improve our car and have both the drivers' and constructors' championships within our sights," he said.