Teams' reactions following the Abu Dhabi GP qualifying

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen could steal away the last pole position from Mercedes in a close fight in the qualifying session for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas took all pole positions in the delayed 2020 F1 season with the exception of the first starting positiong for the Turkish Grand Prix. At Istanbul, it was Racing Point’s Lance Stroll to emerge fastest in a very difficult rainy qualifying session.

Despite the dominant showing of the Anglo-German team, Max Verstappen could prevent the dominant force of the sport from stealing every pole position in dry conditions this year with the Dutchman beating the fastest Mercedes driver, Valtteri Bottas by just 25 thousands of a second.

Red Bull

Max Verstappen, 1st, 1:35.246 “It was a very nice lap. I didn’t really expect to fight for pole today but it is very satisfying and at least we have one pole this year with the dominance Mercedes have had and we can be very pleased for that. Everyone is a bit tired at the end of such a tough season but I think for the mechanics and everyone in the Team this was a great boost. It wasn’t the most straightforward qualifying, of course initially I had my hand stuck under the wheel so I had a poor lap and then after that with the medium tyre it was not so easy but on the second run we made a few changes and then it seemed a bit better.

„Then in Q3 we had quite a decent lap and everything came together. It won’t be easy tomorrow as they have two cars behind me that can do different strategies and try to put me under pressure but I’m going to give it all I have and have fun out there. We have a shot at the win but whatever happens today has been a great day.”

Alex Albon, 5th, 1:35.571

“It was my best and most competitive qualifying of the year and whilst I’m happy with my performance I’m also annoyed as I made a small mistake in the final Q3 run and that was my lap done. The car was really hooked up, we had a good balance and I was feeling strong after the first Q3 run but I wanted it a bit too much. In sector one I pushed too hard too soon and the tyres were done from thereon so whilst the track was getting faster and faster I didn’t have the grip and couldn’t improve my time. But it was super close out there and the gap was the closest it’s been all year so there are positives to take and on a personal note it’s been a strong weekend for me, it’s progress and that’s important. Now I’m just focused on taking that into tomorrow’s race as it’s all still to play for out there and I’m positive we can do something good. Max getting pole is obviously great for the Team too so well done to him and now it’s all eyes on tomorrow and the last race of the season.”


Valtteri Bottas, 2nd, 1:35.271

"Congratulations to Max on pole position, he did a good job today. We saw in FP3 that the Red Bull was pretty quick; they managed to optimise their car and really extract the maximum from the soft tyre, which is something we struggled with all weekend. As the track cooled down towards the end of the session, I started to suffer with understeer, which made it tricky to improve the lap times. I think I still managed to get everything out of the car, but we simply weren't quick enough today. We looked stronger on the medium tyres, but you need to be quick on the softest compound to be on pole. The points are given out on Sunday though. We have a strong car and will start the race on the mediums, so it's all still to play for. I think it's going to be a good battle between Max, Lewis and myself and anything can happen as we've seen in F1 lately. I'm looking forward to an exciting season finale tomorrow and will fight hard to end the year on a high."

Lewis Hamilton, 3rd, 1:35.332

"It's definitely been a difficult weekend, getting back into the rhythm and finding the momentum again but I'm super grateful to be back with the team and trying to close out the strong season that we've had, in style. I've struggled with the balance of the car and we weren't really gelling together, so it was a battle to get a lap together in qualifying. I still gave it my all and it was so close between us.

„Obviously, it's disappointing to be P3, but congratulations to Max, he's been driving great this year. Hopefully we'll give Max a good run for his money tomorrow, with both Valtteri and myself starting right behind him. It makes it more exciting, that's for sure, and there's still some unknowns with the long runs. This is a tough track to overtake on but there's still strategy to play with, and the start and first few laps are going to be important. So, there are opportunities and I'm excited to see how it'll play out."


Carlos Sainz, 6th, 1:35.815

“A very good day for the team. I think the main thing is that we got the two cars into the top six on split strategies as well. I started off strong, using only one set of tyres to make it into Q2. I had a good feeling with the Medium tyre yesterday and I wanted to give it a go in Q2, managing to put together a strong lap and qualifying for Q3 on that compound. Unfortunately, I couldn’t put together my best lap on my final run in Q3. Some overheating on the rear axle and a couple of mistakes on my side meant I couldn’t qualify further up.

"I wanted to get the highest possible result in my final quali session with the team and maybe I pushed too hard! It’s a shame, but overall I’m happy with what we did in Q1 and Q2 with the Medium tyres, which puts us in a good spot for tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to fighting for McLaren one last time and hopefully bringing home a good result. Vamos!”

Lando Norris, 4th, 1:35.497

“Very happy, I felt like I did a really good job. I was very comfortable in the car and felt like I nailed my lap on that final run. I definitely took another step forward in Q3, which I’m really pleased about. We're ahead of a few people we didn’t expect to be ahead of, so great work by the team at track and at the factory to get us in this position.

“I’m on a Soft start tomorrow and some other cars around me are going to be on the Medium, so I think it’s going to be an interesting race. It’ll probably be quite tough in the first stint, but starting from the second row gives us a great chance to score some decent points. We had good pace today and we'll do our best to carry it into tomorrow.”

Racing Point

Sergio Perez, 15th

“Today was my last qualifying session with the team and it was definitely a bit emotional. It’s a shame that we couldn’t do qualifying properly but there’s no point using up tyres or taking risks when we will start at the back of the field anyway. I think we have really strong pace this weekend and I felt great on my Q1 lap, so I’m confident we could have fought for a very strong result in normal circumstances. We knew this penalty was coming so our focus has been entirely on making sure we have a strong package for the race tomorrow. The goal has to be to work our way up well into the points because today has shown just how close the battle for P3 in the Constructors’ Championship will be. My fresh powertrain is a couple of tenths per lap quicker than those towards the end of their life, which should be of big benefit in the race. McLaren has both cars in the Top 10 and Renault has the free tyre choice, so it’s going to be a long race tomorrow where anything can happen. It’s now sinking in that tomorrow is going to be my last race with the team. I’m determined to leave here on a high with a great result for myself and everyone in the team. There’s a lot to play for and I’m excited to get going tomorrow.”

Lance Stroll, 8th, 1:36.046

“It wasn’t the easiest qualifying session this year because I found the car a little bit tricky to drive out there. It’s too early to explain exactly why it was difficult, but I’m confident we can go away tonight and find the answers we need. We started strongly in Q1 with a good lap time but we just weren’t able to make progress relative to our rivals in Q2 and Q3. The positive is that we are starting comfortably inside the Top 10. It’s a long race, it’s the end of the season and anything can happen in the Grand Prix. The two McLarens might be ahead, but If we make a good start and make the right calls on strategy, I think we can move forward and fight hard to keep hold of P3 in the Constructors’ Championship.


Pierre Gasly, 10th, 1:36.242

“It has been quite hard this morning in FP3, so we didn’t really expect to be in Q3 today. I’ve been struggling all weekend with the balance, but we made a small step forward in quali, probably not as much as we would have wished though. I couldn't really put in the lap I wanted but it was good enough to get us to P10 in the end, which is still a decent position to start the race tomorrow. We know it’s not going to be easy to start with the option and the first stint will be tricky, but many drivers are in the same situation, so we’ll just have to be a bit better than the others as for the tyre management. Given it's the last race of the season, it would be nice to finish it with a few more points in the pocket.”

Daniil Kvyat, 7th, 1:35.963

“I think that’s probably the best qualifying lap of my life! I’m very happy with today, it feels great to put it together here in Abu Dhabi as it’s a long track with many corners. We knew we could be competitive, but it was hard to understand the tyres this weekend. I think we did a good job in understanding everything at the right time for qualifying, so I’ll enjoy the feeling for another hour or so. Then, my focus will turn to tomorrow’s race. Starting from P7, we’ve given ourselves a good foundation and hopefully, we’ll be able to capitalise on today’s result. When I get a car to my liking, I can be very fast and now I hope everyone can see the result I can achieve. I like the car the way it is now, so let’s finish this season on a high.”


Sebastian Vettel, 13th, 1:36.631

"Obviously it is not nice to start my final race with the team from 13th on the grid. The result itself is quite bad, even if I was happy with my own performance on the lap. Maybe putting together the perfect lap would have got me as high as tenth, but no better than that. My plan for the race tomorrow is simply to try and do my best. I guess we won’t have an easy race.

"I think it will be special since it is the last one. I want to enjoy this race and feel very close to the people in the garage, the mechanics, the engineers, everyone. It will be very emotional."

Charles Leclerc, 9th, 1:36.065

"I am not so happy about today. Even though Q1 was good and Q2 was very, very good on medium tyres, in Q3 we lost the rhythm, especially in the last sector and it didn’t work out for us. Unfortunately, we have a three-place grid penalty to take tomorrow so it won’t make much difference that I am starting on mediums, as I expect people around me at the start to go for medium or hard tyres. We were quite competitive in FP2 even though our long runs were affected by the red flag, so our pace shouldn’t be too bad tomorrow.

"It’s going to be a tricky race because here in Abu Dhabi it’s always very warm so tyre management will be a big thing, more than usual. I want to stay sixth in the drivers’ championship so for this last race of the season I’ll do all I can to make up as many places as possible."


Daniel Ricciardo, 12th, 1:36.406

“It’s a shame finishing 12th today as we looked quick this morning with third and fourth and we were aiming for much higher than that. We got through to Q2 quite comfortably with just one fast lap on the softs, but then we struggled to match the pace on both medium and soft tyres. I don’t think we know why yet, so we’ll take a look at it tonight. I don’t like starting 11th, but we both have tyre choice tomorrow so that’s a positive from today as strategy is going to be key in the race. We saw last weekend how starting on the medium tyres can pay off, so we have options tomorrow. It’s my last race with the team too and I want to make sure we end this on a high.”

Esteban Ocon, 11th, 1:36.359

“We have to dig into that as it wasn’t quite what we were aiming for today. We’ve been in the top 10 all weekend, third and fourth in Free Practice 3, and then we seemed to lose the rear, the grip and the tyres were not working as well as they have been. It’s something we need to understand because it’s been a solid weekend other than this session. It’s not all over, though, and tomorrow it’s all or nothing. We need to come back, we need to score good points and we do have the free starting tyre choice, which does give us something to work with. We aim to finish this season well and inside the points.”

Alfa Romeo

Kimi Raikkonen, 16th, 1:37.555

“The car didn’t feel too bad, but my final lap in Q1 wasn’t great. The first part was ok, but I hit some kerbs in the last sector and ruined my time. It is what it is and we will need to do a good job in the race. We struggled a bit in FP3 earlier, but I am confident our race pace will be ok come tomorrow.”

Antonio Giovinazzi, 14th, 1:38.248

“I am happy with another Q2, especially as I think my final lap in Q1 was pretty good. It’s a pity to have my fastest lap in the second segment deleted, as I was pushing a lot and went a bit wide, but in the end it wouldn’t have been enough to make it to Q3, so it would not have made any difference. To have another car in Q2 is good motivation for the team. We have been making it into the top 15 more often in the final part of the season, which is a sign we have been improving the car lately: now let’s see what we can achieve tomorrow. Our target is to have a good first lap and be in the fight for the points.”


Pietro Fittipaldi, 19th, 1:38.173

“We made some changes after FP3, the engineers really did a great job. I really felt confident with the car in qualifying. We were about a tenth off of Kevin (Magnussen) on my first run but we knew we could make steps forward. Unfortunately, we were trying to do three runs in Q1 and when I came in after my first run I got called to the FIA weigh-bridge. We lost a lot of time there and we were just trying to catch up after. The second run was a bit of a wash – it was rushed. I then had traffic in the last sector on my final run, and Latifi spun on the exit of the last corner ahead of me. So, basically my third run wasn’t a proper one. At the end though, I was still really competitive in comparison with Kevin – as I said last week, he’s a great reference for me. I’m really happy with the step forward we made today.”

Kevin Magnussen, 17th, 1:37.863

“The car was fine, I just didn’t really have the qualifying session I should have had, especially on the last run when I had a tow. It wasn’t great, but we knew it didn’t matter as I’m starting last no matter what. It’s always really cool to drive a Formula 1 car though, especially in qualifying spec – it’s always enjoyable. The car has actually felt pretty good all weekend. I’m looking forward to the race now. It’s tough starting last but I’ll go out and try and have some fun in my last race with the team.”


George Russell, 18th, 1:38.045

"It was really tricky out there. We really struggled with the tyres, Nicholas was also struggling, which was a bit strange as in FP3 the car was good. It’s the last race of the year tomorrow though and that is where it counts. The aim is to try and overtake and move forward where we can. We usually have strong Saturdays and struggle on Sundays so hopefully a poor Saturday means a good Sunday!"

Nicholas Latifi, 20th, 1:38.443

"It was quite a disappointing qualifying. On the first set of tyres there were some mistakes, so there was a lot of margin to improve. There was quite a big queue on my second set in the last sector to start the lap, everyone was going excessively slow to try and get their gap and the tyre surface temperatures must have dropped quite low. When I got on the gas there was no grip at all and there was such a big snap that it caught me completely off guard and I spun. I felt there was a decent amount to improve from the first set, but it is what it is. However, I am excited for the last race of the season and I hope we can end the year on a high."