Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Valtteri Bottas will start Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit from second place on the grid having beaten his team mate and world champion Lewis Hamilton to a front row start.
Speaking after the session where he set a time of 01:35.271s Bottas said:
Congratulations to Max on pole position, he did a good job today. We saw in FP3 that the Red Bull was pretty quick; they managed to optimise their car and really extract the maximum from the Soft tyre, which is something we struggled with all weekend. As the track cooled down towards the end of the session, I started to suffer with understeer, which made it tricky to improve the lap times. I think I still managed to get everything out of the car, but we simply weren’t quick enough today. We looked stronger on the Medium tyres, but you need to be quick on the softest compound to be on pole. The points are given out on Sunday though. We have a strong car and will start the race on the Mediums, so it’s all still to play for. I think it’s going to be a good battle between Max, Lewis and myself and anything can happen as we’ve seen in F1 lately. I’m looking forward to an exciting season finale tomorrow and will fight hard to end the year on a high.
Lewis Hamilton who returns to racing this weekend starts the Grand Prix from third place following a time 01:35.332s and speaking following the action he commented saying:
It’s definitely been a difficult weekend, getting back into the rhythm and finding the momentum again but I’m super grateful to be back with the team and trying to close out the strong season that we’ve had, in style. I’ve struggled with the balance of the car and we weren’t really gelling together, so it was a battle to get a lap together in qualifying. I still gave it my all and it was so close between us. Obviously, it’s disappointing to be P3, but congratulations to Max, he’s been driving great this year. Hopefully we’ll give Max a good run for his money tomorrow, with both Valtteri and myself starting right behind him. It makes it more exciting, that’s for sure, and there’s still some unknowns with the long runs. This is a tough track to overtake on but there’s still strategy to play with, and the start and first few laps are going to be important. So, there are opportunities and I’m excited to see how it’ll play out.
Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff comented saying:
That was an exciting qualifying session and it came down to very fine margins with less than a tenth of a second between the top three at the end. We had a tough session in FP3 and were quite a long way off in terms of performance, so it was a pretty good recovery to end up P2 and P3 this evening. I was pleased to see a strong lap from Valtteri, who has had a difficult few weeks recently, and we are all very happy to see Lewis in the car and back out on track doing what he does best; after ten days away, his level of performance was impressive. Looking ahead to tomorrow’s race, we have two cars in the mix, so that will give us some options on strategy and a chance to put pressure on Max in front. We’re looking forward to an exciting final Grand Prix of the season – and we will be going flat out to try and finish the year on a high.
Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s chief race engineer Andrew Shovlin commented saying:
After we put in good times on a single lap yesterday the struggle we had today came as a bit of a surprise. It was evident from the word go in final practice that we were lacking grip and losing time to ourselves, especially in the final sector. It was a bit better in qualifying, in so much as we were at least fighting for pole, but the midfield teams were much closer than normal and Red Bull were able to sneak ahead. We did manage to get both cars through the second session on the Medium compound which gives us the best chance for the race although Max is also on the same rubber. It does seem like we’ve not managed to land the Soft compound in quite the right window today and that’s something that we need to understand going forward. However, our car seems to be working well on the other compounds so we will be looking at the strategy tonight to understand how we can put our drivers into a position where they can challenge for the win tomorrow.