Scuderia Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz will start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the second row of the grid, after a very closely contested qualifying session. The Yas Marina circuit has never been particularly kind to the Maranello team, which has never had a front row start here.
Charles and Carlos progressed comfortably to the final part of qualifying and then fought it out with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez. Charles’ best time of 1’24”092 was just four hundredths off the Mexican’s time, while Carlos’ best was a 1’24”242.
The race looks like being closely contested and tough. Tomorrow, the team has two goals: both F1-75s start ahead of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton for Mercedes, the team with which the Scuderia is battling for second place in the Constructors’ championship, while Charles has Perez ahead of him on the grid, with whom he will be fighting for second in the Drivers’ standings. All possible strategies will be assessed tonight and tomorrow the race looks like being a six way battle, with tyre management no doubt playing an important role.
‘P3 is the best we could do today. It was quite a tricky qualifying, especially in terms of tyre management, as is usually the case in Abu Dhabi, with the rear tyres overheating in the final sector. With Carlos starting right behind me, we will work together to put pressure on our competitors ahead and aim to finish the season on a high.’
‘It was a solid qualifying for the team today as we made a step forward on pace and car setup. I’m not entirely happy with my last attempt in Q3 as the traffic on the out-lap compromised getting everything up to temperature and I didn’t put a great lap together. However, I’m happy with the feeling in the car and I think we’re in a good position for tomorrow. There are still many points to fight for and we’ll push until the end.’
Laurent Mekies Racing Director
‘We’re reasonably pleased with how qualifying went. I think the team has made a step forward since yesterday, when we weren’t completely happy with the car’s handling. Here at the track and back in Maranello, we worked on fine tuning the set-up and on extracting a touch more performance from the car. Out on track, Charles and Carlos gave their best and improved their performance lap by lap, executing this session in a solid way. That resulted in us locking out the second row, with Charles within a whisker of Perez’s time. It’s a decent starting position for tomorrow’s race, but we know Red Bull and Mercedes will have a very strong pace. We can expect a close six-way fight, and tyre management will likely be a key factor again. That could present opportunities and we will try to make the most of them.’