It was therefore Max Verstappen who took pole this Saturday in Abu Dhabi: the Red Bull driver was certainly helped by the aspiration given by his teammate Sergio Pérez; but even without the aspiration the Dutchman had a very, very competitive car, for example in the last sector.
It’s a surprise given the free practice, which Lewis Hamilton tried to explain this evening.
“The car was good, Max did a good job on the last lap. In general, during free practice the car felt solid; During the qualifying session, I had the impression that it was getting a little more difficult to try to gain speed and then the last two laps were not easy to really get all the available time. I don’t know if it’s the track temperature or what … The last lap was ok, I can’t complain but of course we would have liked to have been a bit faster today. «
Lewis Hamilton will be surrounded by cars starting on soft – since even Lando Norris and Sergio Pérez behind him will have more efficient tires at the start … Is he worried?
“I feel good, I’m happy to be on the front line. I can see my opponent. Obviously, it will be a little more difficult at the start with the medium tire compared to the soft tire. Nevertheless, I give everything I have. «
“The ones that go tender are going to be bees, of course. They will be around me a lot, it’s not so easy to start on the mediums, but we’ll see. Hope this is the best tire for the long stint. We will wait and see. «
Does he hope to overtake, why not, surprisingly, Max Verstappen at the first corner? After all, the Red Bull rider did lock his tires in the first corner and the Mercedes rider does not forget that!
» It’s interesting. I’m still a little skeptical with everything so it will be interesting when we go back and look at the news and the laps. It’s very rare for people to block the tires on turn 1 but if he really blocked the tires on turn 1 then who knows … «
“But it will be very difficult to beat him. It’s not very far from the first corner and it’s on the softs, which usually gives you four more yards or something like that. In an ideal world we were supposed to be on pole and we thought we had the pace, but they were quick at the end. «
Mercedes could also have tried the game of aspiration, between Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas … But this never seems to have been considered according to the Briton.
“No, it was not discussed. We never, ever really did that. I like that Valtteri is focused on … we work as a team and Valtteri needed to do the best job for himself to get us both as high as possible. «
“It’s not something we discuss or work on and I don’t think it should have been done. «
Who has the best strategy?
The big strategic difference between the two leaders (Max Verstappen starts in soft and Lewis Hamilton in mediums) promises to be the big topic of discussion until the start tomorrow. Who made the right choice? Lewis Hamilton has confidence in his team.
« Whether or not we’re in a better position when it comes to this tire… or maybe they know something we don’t know and the softs were their plan all the time… We struggled a bit more on the soft in long stints, so I think we have the right tire, but we’ll see tomorrow. «
It is the first time since 2016 that Lewis Hamilton will have to fight for a title in Abu Dhabi, in the last race. A similar situation?
“It’s a very, very different scenario. Completely different and a million times better than I was feeling back then. I feel good. «
“I face a different resistance in life and this time I’m just in a different situation and a lot happier. «
Why is this better? Is it because unlike 2016, Lewis Hamilton is not behind in the standings due to an engine explosion like in Malaysia 2016?
“Yes, and because he was (Nico Rosberg) my teammate. «
Regardless, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen continue to push each other and the Briton is enjoying this duel at the top.
“I totally agree – it’s been an amazing year, an amazing battle. I am grateful to have had such a great battle with Max and his team. They did an exceptional job and showed real strength which pushed us to the limit of what we needed. And we got stronger as a team in ways that we didn’t know we could. It’s incredible. Hope we have many more seasons like this one more. «