Max Verstappen believes it will be tough for him to end the season with back-to-back victories despite qualifying on the front row for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position since Germany on Saturday, with Verstappen only third quickest and over 0.3s behind the six-time champion. A grid penalty for Valtteri Bottas means Verstappen will start from second place, but the Red Bull driver — who won last time out in Brazil — says it will be tough to beat Hamilton.
“I guess you will always try, but you also have to be realistic and Mercedes is very quick,” Verstappen said. “It’s going to be hard, I’m not going to lie; but we’ll try everything we can as a team and we’ll see where we end up.”
With Bottas 0.15s quicker than Verstappen in Q3, albeit aided by a fresh engine for the final round, the Dutchman was still pleased with his own performance despite not securing the front row start on outright pace.
“I think today was the best that we could do; we all know that. Mercedes is quite dominant here. We tried everything we could. Overall, I am pretty happy. Still good to start on the front row. Of course I would have liked to actually qualify there, but still a lot of chances for tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.
“The lap was really decent; there was not much I could (have done) better. I mean, there is never a perfect lap. It was good (and) I was driving to the limits. We just seemed to lack a bit of grip compared to (Mercedes). They are especially quick in the last sector.
“They are always very dominant here on this track,” Verstappen continued, “and we tried to be as close as we could. Unfortunately, we were just lacking a bit too much in that last sector. But overall, I think I’m pretty pleased — for us, I think it was a pretty positive weekend.”