Norris wary of challenging Hamilton/Max in Abu Dhabi

Jamie Woodhouse
Lando Norris and Max Verstappen talk after qualifying. Abu Dhabi, December 2021.

Lando Norris is not sure it would benefit his race to challenge Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen at the start in Abu Dhabi.

As expected, it was the title rivals who secured front-row spots, with Verstappen taking pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix while Hamilton will start from P2.

Behind them, Norris delivered a stonking lap to start P3, and launching on the soft rubber there is every chance he could take a shot at passing his compatriot.

However, we have seen Hamilton and Verstappen collide several times this season, both fighting tooth and nail whenever finding themselves battling over the same piece of track.

And so considering “controversy” follows the pair, Norris wonders if his best bet may be to stay back and watch the action unfold ahead.

“I’m a bit nervous because I kind of just want to stay where I am and just watch everything unfold over the first few laps, or even the whole race,” Norris told Sky F1.

“Obviously I don’t really want to get involved too much because they can cause a lot of controversy.

“I don’t know whether to go for the move, not go for the move…you tell me.

“But I’ll do my best and if I have a chance, I’ll go for it.”

Norris was able to better a Red Bull and a Mercedes to claim P3 on the grid so, although he had pole in mind, third was nonetheless a welcome surprise for the McLaren driver.

Asked where that P3 lap came from, Norris replied: “I don’t know really. It came already in Q3 run one. I made some improvements but also a few mistakes and I just did a clean lap in the end.

“I went for pole, it didn’t quite work out, I was still a little bit off. But it was a nice lap – to be P3 was a bit of a surprise.”

Norris’ team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, meanwhile, who will start from P10, cut an unhappy figure post-Q3, having found no time gain when he had a new set of soft C5 tyres bolted on.

“It’s always nice being in Q3, but then if you’re 10th in Q3 it feels kind of crappy,” he said.

“It wasn’t really that good, but I think what wasn’t good was the new tyre, I just couldn’t get a step out of it, so that’s where I lacked those extra few tenths.

“I did pretty much the same time with a used tyre, so I think that was the issue, but why I couldn’t find it I don’t know yet.

“We’ve got tomorrow, so hopefully a little more competitive over a long run.”

 

This was, by Ricciardo’s own admission, not the first time he had been hoping to start a race higher up than he is doing.

But he remains hopeful of turning the situation around in the final race of the season.

“Especially after a not so good qualy, you definitely always look forward to the race and take a little bit of anger out on Sunday,” he said.

“I’ve 50-something laps to do it, and it’s the last one of the year so we will see what happens.

“I would have loved to be further up there today, but not the first time this year I would have loved to have finished a little more on a high.

“But as I said, tomorrow could turn it around.”