Max Verstappen felt he got as much out of his car during Qualifying as he could, although it was not enough to get himself on pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver ended third fastest, 0.360 seconds behind polesitter Lewis Hamilton, but thanks to a penalty to Valtteri Bottas, who qualified second on the grid, Verstappen will start on the front row on Sunday.
Verstappen feels the Yas Marina Circuit is better suited to Mercedes than Red Bull, so to be as close as they were to them was good, and with the race pace of the RB15 stronger than it was in Qualifying, he feels confident he can go for the win on Sunday.
“I’m pretty pleased with qualifying and we got the most out of the car,” said Verstappen. “Of course you always want to be ahead or a little closer to pole but I think this was the best we could do and there wasn’t much more in it.
“There are always tracks on the calendar where certain cars work better than others and it’s easier to find a good set-up. This is a Mercedes track and for us it was a bit more tricky to get everything out of the last sector.
“With Valtteri’s penalty I will start from the front row which will help in the race. The start will be important as overtaking is difficult around here but it’s a long race and we will of course be going for the win as always.
“Mercedes will be quick and it won’t be easy but as a Team we will make it as hard as possible, put them under pressure, and fight them until the end.”
Albon Unhappy with Qualifying Performance
Whereas Verstappen was happy with his performance, team-mate Alexander Albon was dissatisfied with his own result, with the Thai driver more than half a second down in sixth, which will become fifth thanks to Bottas’ penalty.
Albon was the last of the drivers to qualify on the medium tyres, which he feels will be interesting, particularly in relation to Sebastian Vettel in fourth the only driver in the top five starting on the softer compound.
“Qualifying was pretty average for me and I’m not all that satisfied with my result,” said Albon. “I struggled from the beginning of Q1 and just didn’t get the most out of it which is frustrating.
“It was tricky out there and quite slippery but the race pace looks ok for tomorrow. Mercedes look quite fast so they’ll be strong and I expect Valtteri to make his way through the field, so we’ll need to get a good start.
“I think the degradation is quite high which is why most of us are starting on the medium tyre but it will be interesting with Seb who starts on the soft. We’ll give it everything tomorrow and try to make something happen.”
Horner Pleased with ‘Solid Qualifying’ Effort
Team Principal Christian Horner was pleased with what he felt was a solid qualifying session for Red Bull, and he hopes the race pace on Sunday will give the drivers the chance to attack Mercedes at the front of the field and fight for the win.
“I think it was a really solid qualifying with P3 for Max and P6 for Alex, which with Valtteri’s penalty, will be P2 and P5,” said Horner. “I think both drivers did a very good job today with good grid positions to hopefully attack tomorrow.
“We elected to start the race on the harder compound whilst Ferrari went down a different route with the soft so that will make for an interesting and tactical race tomorrow.
“We’ve equalled our best qualifying result here at Abu Dhabi in the hybrid era so that’s really encouraging and we tend to have good race pace so hopefully we can challenge the Mercedes tomorrow.”