Lewis Hamilton hopes to make up early ground on Sebastian Vettel in the Singapore Grand Prix before it becomes difficult to overtake.
Vettel charged to pole position at the Marina Bay Circuit on Saturday with a stunning performance in Q3, the German using every inch of the track to set a new lap record and oust Max Verstappen from top spot.
It was less successful for Hamilton who could only claim fifth place on Sunday's grid despite getting "everything" out of his Mercedes under the lights.
Moving up the positions in Sunday's race could be difficult for the championship leader given the nature of the track, so he hopes to get a good start to give him as much chance as possible of staying close to his rival.
"We knew coming here it would be difficult," he told Sky Sports F1. "Every year it's been difficult for us generally.
"We knew today would be tough but I didn't anticipate Ferrari would be as strong as they were. I thought Red Bull would be as quick as they were.
"We remain hopeful. I got everything I could out of the car. I gave it everything and more. I threw the sink at it and squeezed every bit of it.
"The start is an opportunity, strategy is an opportunity, safety cars. We'll have to play the long game - it's a marathon not a sprint.
"I don't know where Ferrari have picked up that pace. We have some races coming up where I think we'll be strong."