Lewis Hamilton says the fact he’s on the front row and has a clear view of Max Verstappen for the championship decider is a good-enough outcome after qualifying second for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Verstappen pulled out a stunning first run in Q3 to go over half a second clear of the field after what had previously been a close battle, with Hamilton only able to close that to 0.4s on the final laps. Despite the gap, the two title contenders will start side by side on the front row and Hamilton says being able to see the equation in front of him isn’t the worst place to be.
“The car was good,” Hamilton said. “Max did a great job on that final lap. Generally through practice, P3 at least, the car was feeling solid; through the qualifying session it felt like it got a bit harder to try and gain speed and then the last two laps weren’t easy to really pull out the time. I don’t know if it’s track temp or what… The last lap was OK, I definitely can’t complain, but of course we wish we were a bit quicker today.
“I feel good, happy I’m on the front row. I can see my opponent. Obviously it’s going to be a little bit harder off the start with the medium tire as opposed to the soft tire. Nonetheless, giving it everything.”
Hamilton says a tow from Valtteri Bottas wasn’t discussed despite Red Bull successfully executing one on the first Q3 run, and he is also unsure if his rival’s decision to start on the soft tire was truly down to damage on his mediums in Q2 or a planned move.
“It’s interesting. I’m always kind of skeptical with everything so it’ll be interesting when we go back and look at the information and onboard laps. It’s very rare that people lock up in Turn 1 but if he truly did lock up in Turn 1 then maybe…
“Whether or not we’re in a better position in terms of that tire or maybe they know something we don’t and that soft tire was their plan all the time… We struggled a bit more on the soft tire for the long runs, so I think we’ve got the right tire, but we’ll see tomorrow.”
However, Hamilton had a positive reply to Verstappen’s comments that the pair had pushed each other to new heights during this season, saying he wants to fight the Dutchman in a similar fashion in the future too.
“I agree fully — it’s been an incredible year, an amazing battle. I’m grateful I’ve had such a great battle with Max and his team. I think they’ve done an exceptional job and shown true strength and so it’s pushed us to the limit in ways that we needed. And we have grown stronger as a team in ways we didn’t know we could grow. It’s been amazing. I hope that we have many more seasons like this.”