In a dominant Saturday, Mercedes Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position as his team-mate Nico Rosberg couldn’t come close to him. Daniel Ricciardo also did impressively to qualify P3.
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been an awesome weekend so far. It’s rare that you end almost every session on top, so I’m very, very happy, with that. It’ s down to the hard work done by the mechanics and the engineers to get the car where I need it, so I’m grateful to them for that, as always. I felt so great out there tonight. It’s really sad that this is the last Qualifying session we’re going to do in this car! It’s a dream for any driver to have something this good to drive. I’ ve been doing my practice starts from the pole slot all weekend as I wasn’t planning on being anywhere else for tomorrow. I came here knowing that was a big part of what I needed this weekend and, now I’ve got that, I can focus on the race. Getting away in front will be the next important step. You need a big pace delta to overtake here, so the start will be crucial. Tonight, though, I need to look at strategy and how things need to work for me to get the win. At the moment, my pace is that little bit better. But I can’t control what happens behind me. All I can do is focus on my own race. You never know what might get thrown into the mix, so I’m just hoping my car is as beautiful as it has been so far this weekend and aiming for the win.”
Nico Rosberg: “I came here to be on pole, so I’m not ecstatic today. I was feeling good in the car today and put in some good laps at the end. But Lewis did a great job and was just a few tenths quicker. I’ m still in a good position to win the race and I want to end the season on a high. There are a few opportunities tomorrow, so I look forward to an exciting battle. The Yas Marina Circuit is a great track and I’m feeling very good before the last race of the year. I am proud and happy about how this season has gone for me until now. Tonight I will relax a bit with Vivian and some friends and come back tomorrow in top shape.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “I’m definitely pleased I got the third place I was after. It feels really good. This morning was hard, I did a run quite early and I was nearly a second off Max so it didn’t look good on paper but the track warmed up so much that we didn’t really know what to expect coming into quali. Q1 was a little bit slow but then I picked it up and Q3 was solid enough so I was happy. We’ll see about the strategy. It’s just nice to do something different to Mercedes. We know on the same equipment they’re probably going to be quicker so we feel it should make us go a little bit longer at the start and then perhaps we can bring the race back to us towards the end when our tyres might be a bit different. For tomorrow of course I wish I was in their position, obviously they’ve both got a little bit more pressure than us this weekend, which I’m kind of envious about. But if the win is there for me tomorrow then I’ll go for it and there will be no holding back. You always have this level of respect as they’re fighting for the title, but if they leave the door open and I think I can pass, then I won’t make it easy for them and let them sail into the sunset.”
Max Verstappen: “I’m pretty disappointed with sixth today. Qualifying up until Q3 went very well, we had no issues and didn’t touch the car. In my last run I was pushing hard and a few tenths up but I locked up into turn 11, if not for that I feel I would have been around P3. It was a bit unfortunate as my pace was there and the car felt good. It would have been great to be a bit higher on the grid as the tyre strategy means that by starting on the supersoft we need a really strong start and to be careful with the cars behind. We should be able to stay out a bit longer, the tyre seems to work well in the higher temperatures so this suits the start of the race. The pace has been there all weekend so I am definitely aiming to go forward tomorrow and work my way to the guys up front. I will put today behind me and focus on having a strong race and closing the season with another successful result.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “It was a pretty good qualifying, the car has behaved well all day. Today we went a lot faster than we had been in practice, we did our best and it was almost enough for third place, but my last lap was not perfect in some places. It’s hard to say if we’ll be able to fight with the Mercedes tomorrow: usually in race conditions we are a bit closer, but I’m sure they will also be very strong. Tomorrow we can only do our best, we’ll try to make a good start and then we’ll see.”
Sebastian Vettel: “I’m not really happy with the result. I was struggling a bit with the balance of the car to start with. In the end it was good, but then in the last lap I had a bit of a messy last sector. I saw a bit of smoke from Verstappen ahead, enough to lose a bit of concentration. After this morning we were expecting a bit more, not really to fight the Mercedes, but to beat Red Bulls. I don’t think we were any slower, but we didn’t get the lap together when it mattered, probably we were a bit on the aggressive side trying to anticipate the track conditions. For tomorrow it should be positive, for tonight it was a bit too much. Otherwise the car feels good, we managed to improve it today. Mercedes are a bit far away, but we hope to get ahead and be in front of Red Bulls tomorrow. We are on the softer compound, which should give us an advantage off the line and for the first lap.”