Max Verstappen put in an incredible lap at the start of Q3, setting a time that nobody could come close to as he flew to pole in Abu Dhabi. In what will be a tantalising start, Lewis Hamilton will share the front row with Verstappen, while his teammate Sergio Perez will be right behind after qualifying in P4.
“It’s always good to have a performance like this one today, but there are no guarantees for tomorrow, I still expect it to be a really hard battle. I originally planned to start on the mediums but I flat spotted my tyres so I had to go onto the softs, I actually felt okay on the softs during the long runs so hopefully it will work out tomorrow in the race. So far, the car has been good and throughout the practice sessions we made some good improvements to the car. I think everything worked out well, especially with Checo’s help, it was nicely executed. He’s a great teammate and a real pleasure to work with so a big thank you to him. I hope we have a good start and from there on in we can have a great race.”
“I think our teamwork today was great, especially for Q3 and I am pleased for the Team and the result, it was very nice to see Max taking the pole. Max and I talked about the tow together and with the Team, we managed to do a great one! It is very difficult to time it, if you are too close you can hurt the other car and lose some downforce. It worked perfectly; I think if we tried it again then it is very likely it would go wrong! This weekend has been a lot of work for everyone in the Team and we have been pushing extremely hard so I am just pleased we managed to work it out. Lining up fourth on the grid is not ideal for me but that wasn’t the main thing today. I lost out on P3 in the final corner but it’s not a disaster, there is still plenty of things I can do tomorrow. My aim will be to make a difference at the front, I will try to get Lando at the start so I can support Max early on. There is still a lot we can do starting on the soft tyre; it is a long game and we don’t think the starting tyre is going to dictate too much. I think there is a great race ahead of us.”
“That was one of Max’s best laps of the year, but now we need to try and convert that tomorrow. Both runs in Q3 were exceptional and it was great teamwork from Checo to give him the tow like he did, it was worth a tenth or two, but not half a second. Max has given it his all and is driving his heart out, he’s thrown everything at it today. Credit has to be given to Checo, he has been a real dutiful teammate and sacrificed his laps tonight, we can’t ask for more than that. When we discussed strategies this morning we were very much 50/50, so we’re not overly upset to be starting on the softs, the medium is a bit more robust but it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. Track position will also be crucial given the degradation. We’ve just got to get our heads down and run our best race tomorrow, as we know how good Mercedes are around this track, it’s one of Lewis’ strongest circuits, so we need to focus on ourselves and hopefully we’ll do enough to win it.”