The Saturday in F1 Abu Dhabi GP saw Red Bull lock-out as the fight is on for second in the standings, while Sebastian Vettel made it in Q3.
It was a good Saturday for Red Bull in F1 Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina circuit after a front-row lockout but they have Max Verstappen ahead of Sergio Perez but crucially the Mexican is ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in their fight for second in the standings.
The Red Bull pair seemingly played the team game with Perez getting some tow help from Verstappen which put him in front of Leclerc. But Ferrari will have to dig deep considering they haven’t looked to have the outright pace to beat Red Bull.
Even though Carlos Sainz is there, he can only help if they divide the strategy. The team will also have to look out for Mercedes who start behind. They likely have given up some qualifying pace to gain in the race and challenge them outright.
Verstappen: “Q3 was good. Before that, it was all a bit up and down. But Q3, first run, I mean, even there, it started a bit chaotic, where I was supposed to, of course, drive out in front of Checo. But as soon as I wanted to start my engine, everything just turned off. So, we had to reboot the car. And then yeah, luckily, I still managed to get out, a bit delayed, which is also not great with the tyres. But we still managed to keep everything under control and did a good lap. So, I was happy with that. And the second one was a little bit more straightforward but it wasn’t it wasn’t easy to find a lot more lap time.
“It’s just a little bit in the last sector. But I think overall this weekend for us as a team, also, we’ve been on it, the car has been quick again basically a little bit more like back to normal. In terms of me going first, going into the weekend, we gave Checo the option to choose what he would like: do you want to go first or behind? He chose to go behind and that was also the plan in qualifying but like I said, I was planned to go ahead in the first run as well but my engine… yeah, everything just turned off. But luckily, we got it together for the second one.”
Perez: “It was a good session. It was looking better after Q2, then Q3, it didn’t start that well, especially run one, wasn’t ideal. Then the second run was quite a lot better. Not enough for pole, though. So still, I think being on the front row for the team it’s a good result, especially after the weekend we come from, you know, in São Paulo where we struggled quite a bit. It’s nice to be back. it certainly did. I think we worked really well as a team today. And I could feel, especially Sector 2, it was working. What you gain, you lose a bit in Sector 3, but generally, I think certainly it was a positive thing. it’s going be a difficult race. I do expect them to be strong. So, it’s going to be a close battle with Charles, so it will be an interesting one for tomorrow.”
Leclerc: “It’s difficult to know for now. We’ve had a difficult FP2. During the race simulations, it felt definitely quite a bit better this morning. But we had no reference, so it’s a bit of a question mark for now. I felt like we are in a better place compared to yesterday. Whether this is enough to beat the Red Bulls tomorrow I don’t know yet. But we’ll give it all. well, difficult to say for the strategy. I think we’ll have to see once we are in the race, and what are the opportunities at that moment. Obviously, Carlos is starting right behind me and hopefully we can put a bit of pressure on Checo by doing different things.”
Hamilton: “We’ve had brake problems a lot most of the year. Front separation: so if the one is at 200 degrees, the other one is at 700 or 800 degrees [Celsius]. So, when you hit the brakes, the car pulls one way. So, I was trying to get the other one to come up, but it was never equalling the other brake. Normally they would both be exactly the same. I imagine [our race pace will be] similar to today. We are bouncing again. I don’t know if we will be heading for a podium but if our [tyre] degradation is better, then maybe.”
Just away from the Top 3 F1 teams, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon filled the best of the rest spots but Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel’s eighth place stole the show with the German dragging the car into the Top 10 for his final qualifying.
For McLaren, even though Norris hasn’t felt 100% with his car, he did a fine job to be ahead of Ocon while teammate Daniel Ricciardo also made it in the Top 10 but he will start from 13th due to the penalty he carries from his Brazil incident.
Fernando Alonso just missed out on the Top 10 after struggling a bit in qualifying. While AlphaTauri and Alfa Romeo’s senior pros Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas were knocked out in Q1, Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu made it in to give them a Top 10 chance.
Vettel: “I was very pleased with how the session went – very happy. We got everything together. I wish I had another set [of soft tyres] in that last segment, but overall, I think it was very good for us. It puts us in a good spot for tomorrow. It’s the bit where you are able to go fastest and push the limit, so I enjoyed every lap that I had. [I have] no regrets today, it was a good day. We have a job on our hands, we want to beat those [Alfa Romeos] and try to get sixth [in the standings], so let’s see what we can do.”
Norris: “[It’s the] best we could have done in terms of position, ahead of everyone apart from the top three teams. So, good job to the team. Also, Daniel, top-10 again. We’re in a good position all together. “I haven’t been the happiest in the car, have had no confidence to push on it. So, a bit disappointing, because I feel like if I had a car I could push, I could do a bit better, but it is what it is.”
Ocon: “I’m very pleased with today’s Qualifying so a big well done to the team for one of our best sessions of the season. Every run felt like we made a step as we tried to maximise the performance of the car today. Our main competitors are quick this weekend, perhaps quicker than we originally thought, so we will need to be focused tomorrow to have a good race and bring back some points. There’s one more to go, so let’s make it the best one yet.”
Gasly: “We have been playing catch-up all weekend as we’ve had difficulties setting up the car. Today we made a small step forward, but it wasn’t enough. The car was sliding around in the low-speed corners and was still not the way I wanted it. Qualifying was like rush-hour in London, but I think it was the same for everyone. Tomorrow will be a long and difficult race, but there will be plenty of opportunities to make up some ground. Tomorrow will be the last time that I am dressed as a Scuderia AlphaTauri driver, so it is definitely an emotional and special weekend for myself and all the team. I have spent so much time with them over the last five years and I will remember those memories forever, so it is time to give it one final push.”
Bottas: “We went into qualifying knowing we had good pace, so I believe today’s result doesn’t really reflect where our car actually is. It was a strange feeling, we just couldn’t get the tyres to work in our outlap and, as a result, our sector one pace suffered. This was especially so on my second run – there was so much traffic at the end of the outlap, I had to pretty much stop and that destroyed our attempt. It’s frustrating, of course, but now we need to prepare in the best possible way for tomorrow’s race.”
Here’s how F1 Abu Dhabi GP qualifying panned out