Lewis Hamilton says making the cut for Q3 in Abu Dhabi will be a challenge in itself after precious little Friday running.
Hamilton sat out the opening session of the race weekend as Frederik Vesti took over his W14 to satisfy the final Mercedes rookie outing of F1 2023, but Hamilton’s return to the cockpit for FP2 did not allow for many laps to be put on the board.
Carlos Sainz crashed his Ferrari early in the session, triggering a lengthy red flag delay, while Nico Hulkenberg came a cropper in the Haas after FP2 had resumed.
Lewis Hamilton sees making Q3 as big challenge
Hamilton said he only managed four timed laps in that severely disrupted second practice session, one which he ultimately finished P8 and half a second off Charles Leclerc’s P1 time of a 1:24.809.
Asked by Sky F1 if he was happy with his Friday, Hamilton replied: “Not particularly, no. It was not the greatest of days.
“I think I only got probably four timed laps really, so that’s not a lot in a day in terms of your knowledge of the car and the track.
“But the car doesn’t feel bad. I think we’re not in a terrible place. I hope I get some more running tomorrow.”
A repeat of his FP2 result would place Hamilton in the final Q3 stage of qualifying where the top 10 drivers battle for pole, but having missed the Q3 cut last time out in Las Vegas, plus the limited track time, Hamilton is far from certain of his spot in Q3 come Saturday.
Asked if he is optimistic that he can get high up in the Q3 order, in what will be the final qualifying session with the troublesome Mercedes W14, Hamilton replied: “At the moment, no.
“Just going to try and see if there’s a way to get into Q3.
“We’ve had difficult qualifying sessions and getting out of Q1 into Q2, for example, has always been a tough battle. And even just getting into Q3 is a challenge.
“So the work tomorrow morning, it just has to be making sure that we can try and get into Q3, but I think it’s going to be close.”
Hamilton’s team-mate George Russell topped FP1 and claimed P6 in the second session, two tenths up on Hamilton who continues to build his lap tally up ahead of qualifying.
“I think George is looking good, so he might be in a better place,” Hamilton continued, “but he didn’t miss FP1.
“But nonetheless, I’m not going to make any excuses, I’m going to just try and get on it tomorrow.”
Hamilton knows the way to success at Yas Marina Circuit, having claimed five Abu Dhabi GP wins in his career, the most of any driver.