It was a disappointing qualifying day for the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team ahead of the final race of the season at the at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The team locked out the third row of the grid, with Lewis Hamilton qualifying P5 and George Russell P6, just three thousandths of a second behind his team-mate.
The team lost relative competitiveness between FP3 and Qualifying, with both drivers struggling for tyre temperature in the cooler conditions and on light fuel loads.
The set-up decisions this weekend have focused on delivering strong race pace, notably running higher wing levels to protect the rear tyres, which the team hope will pay off in the race.
‘We came here expecting this to be a difficult one for us but we didn’t expect a gap of eight tenths to pole position. We were losing six tenths today on the straights to the top cars. I gave it everything, so it’s a bit of a surprising result and just being so far behind Red Bull and Ferrari. Hopefully our race pace tomorrow will be better than our qualifying pace today. There’s also some bouncing at this track, which adds to our lack of performance and issues with temperature splits on the brakes which we’ve experienced throughout the whole season. The whole team is working hard and they’re doing an incredible job to fix these issues, especially also for next year. I’m looking to tomorrow and the final race of the season!’
‘We hoped for better lap times during qualifying but should be in a stronger position during the race tomorrow as our long run pace looked competitive from what we’ve seen so far. The grid position seems fair when you look at our current car performance at a circuit like Abu Dhabi but following the results in Brazil, we were probably hoping for a little bit more. So, we would have liked to be a little bit closer to the front but should be in a better place for the race. Tomorrow will be interesting, as there are lots of different strategy options. I expect Red Bull to be out of reach, but I hope we can chase Ferrari. Let’s see what tomorrow brings – we will fight as hard as we can all the way to the finish line.’
‘Today didn’t go our way unfortunately. We didn’t get the job done right and went backwards in terms of our performance, while our competitors made a step forward. We opted for a higher downforce and higher drag setup, and it was just too slow on the straights during the session. We’ve also had issues with the brakes that we need to investigate. The weekend looked positive for us so far, especially during the earlier sessions but in the end, we didn’t deliver when it came down to qualifying. All in all, a disappointing day for the team. We want to be in the front, fighting for victories. Hopefully, our set-up will benefit from the earlier start time of the race tomorrow and the higher temperatures, which seemed to result in better car performance for us so far here in Abu Dhabi.’
‘We had a solid FP3, looking like we were sitting between the Red Bulls and Ferraris on single lap pace so it’s disappointing to end up 5th and 6th. Through the weekend it has felt like we are at our best on the hot track and struggling to find the grip in the cooler evening conditions. The decisions we made with the car setup are biased towards race pace, and on a long run everything is running hotter anyway so we’re still hopeful that we can have a race where we are looking forwards not backwards, but a third row start for both cars means that we have our work cut out if we are to challenge at the front.’