Max Verstappen heads into the final round of the 2021 Formula 1 season with the chance to become World Champion for the first time, but the Dutchman knows it will be a difficult weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The Red Bull Racing driver goes into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix equal on points with Lewis Hamilton but ahead on the account that he has more race victories this year. However, Hamilton has won the past two races and has momentum on his side, and the battle between the two perhaps went over the limit last weekend in Saudi Arabia.
Verstappen was victorious at the Yas Marina Circuit in 2020, but he knows this means very little as the track has changed since, and he hopes to see Red Bull find some pace to enable him to take his maiden Drivers’ title.
“First of all I’m excited to be back in Abu Dhabi!” said Verstappen. “Last year is not always a good reference in terms of result as there were multiple factors that contributed to it. We’ve been lacking a bit of pace for the past few races but hopefully that won’t be the case this weekend.
“The Yas Marina Circuit has had a few changes and the track is much faster now. It’s going to be interesting to see how it will affect the setup of the car. It’s very important to have a good qualifying in Abu Dhabi so hopefully we can make that happen.”
Verstappen says he will be giving it his all this weekend to ensure he has a chance of taking the title, but he knows it will be difficult facing opposition such as Hamilton and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
“We’ve had a lot of wins and good moments this year, and we’ve been a lot more competitive in general, compared to the years before,” said Verstappen. “So as a Team, we can be very pleased and proud of what we have achieved this season.
“We are level on points and I know that we as a Team are going to give it all to win this Championship. This is going to be an exciting race and we want to finish the season in the best way possible.”
“It has been a hectic first year with Red Bull Racing Honda” – Sergio Pérez
Team-mate Sergio Pérez missed out on points last weekend in Saudi Arabia after crashing out due to contact with Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, but the Mexican believes the team had pace to fight at the front of the field.
Pérez says he was unlucky the whole evening at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit as he lost places after pitting just prior to the red flag, but he is determined to end the season on a high in Abu Dhabi.
“We had good pace in Jeddah but unfortunately, we were not able to capitalise on it during the race and the weekend,” said Pérez. “We were really unlucky with the red flag there and the rest wasn’t an ideal day but we will keep pushing and we will not give up.”
Pérez, who lost the chance to finish third in the Drivers’ Championship thanks to the crash in Saudi Arabia, is looking forward to see how the layout at the Yas Marina Circuit has changed, and he is eager to end his first season with Red Bull fighting for a top three position.
“The track layout has changed quite a bit since last season, it has become a lot faster than before so it will be interesting to see how every single car copes with it,” said the Mexican. “I am looking forward to getting out there on Friday to drive it for myself.
“It has been a great season, for the fans and for the Team. We have pushed ourselves to the maximum, we have given it our all and we will continue to do so until the last lap.
“It has been a hectic first year with Red Bull Racing Honda! I finally feel at home with the Team and I am looking forward to achieving more together next season. We have everything in place to start on the right foot in 2022 and I hope it will be a successful year for the Team.”