Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team Principal and CEO Toto Wolff says that following Saturday’s qualifying for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix it is 1-0 to Red Bull after Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton to pole position.
Hamilton, who is level on points with Max Verstappen starts the race from second place with a time of 01:22.480s.
Speaking following the action, Wolff said:
On days like today, you have to take it like it is, it’s 1-0 to them, they got the tyres in the perfect window in the last run, the tow functioned flawlessly and that’s why they are on pole. I’m happy we’ll be starting on the Medium tyre tomorrow. We will have a slight disadvantage on the start I guess, and the first six or seven laps, but we can go longer, or also go for an aggressive undercut and try to control track position. Overnight we’ll be running lots of programmes and algorithms to help form our strategy for tomorrow.
The pace was there in practice, obviously on the long runs you don’t know, but whichever car is faster tomorrow will win the race. We just need to focus on that, recoup and then hopefully come out on top tomorrow. We are on the back foot and sometimes that’s not bad as a starting point. Lewis will be super motivated for tomorrow and just go hunting, as always. For Valtteri, the gap between P3 and P6 was all within a tenth so its unfortunate he’ll be starting in that gaggle but he just needs to make it through the first lap or two, and get back up.
Lewis Hamilton said:
Well, firstly Max did a great lap today and we just couldn’t compete with that time at the end there. It was a fantastic lap from him but we’re in a good position, I’d like to think, with our tyres tomorrow and I hope that we can have a good race. On the first lap of Q3, I dropped a bit of time in the last corner and Turn 5, but my final lap was nice and clean, I just couldn’t go any quicker. I don’t know if it’s tyre prep or whatever it may be, in terms of the out lap, but nonetheless I couldn’t beat that time so he deserved the pole. I’m still on the front row for tomorrow, with the tyre difference and I’m grateful I can see where he is, so we can try and navigate from there.
Valtteri Bottas who starts the race from sixth place, he final event with Mercedes said:
I was hoping for more, it was a tricky Quali – a good Q1, decent Q2 but by Q3, I couldn’t improve any more. My setup was definitely more focused on the race rather than Quali so as the grip levels increased, I couldn’t improve my times and hit a bit of a limit. I’m happy with my setup for tomorrow which should make it exciting. Also starting on the Medium tyre tomorrow opens up different strategy options, we can go long in the first stint if we want to but on the Soft, you can’t, so it’ll be an interesting race. Overall, not the best result today but we can definitely make it up tomorrow, it’s game on.
Mercedes chief engineer Andrew Shovlin said:
It was a tricky qualifying for both drivers and unusually, the car felt at its best in the first session and seemed to get less competitive as we progressed. Of course it would have made tomorrow easier if we had pole but we’re pleased to be starting on the Medium tyre and we’ve hopefully added some long run pace overnight. We’ve got a busy night going through the various strategy options for tomorrow but we’ve shown good race pace recently, along with an ability to recover positions and pass on track. We had a much bigger challenge in Brazil and showed what we are capable of, so we’ll be doing everything possible to get ourselves into a position to bring home the win and the championships tomorrow.