Abu Dhabi GP 2023

NOVEMBER 25, 2023

Saturday Team Quotes

Oscar Piastri
© McLaren

Oracle Red Bull Racing

Max Verstappen (1st, 1:23.445): "We'll try to have a good start tomorrow, focus on our own race and hopefully end the season on a high. I'm very happy to be on pole, I didn't expect it. The weekend so far has been a bit tricky but we definitely improved the car for Qualifying, we did everything we could. From lap one the RB19 seemed more together and we could definitely push more, it felt miles better than in practice. It's been a very special season, we've been enjoying it a lot and we're really proud of what we've achieved. We'll try to have a good start tomorrow, focus on our own race and hopefully end the season on a high."

Sergio Perez (9th, 1:24.171): "The podium will be the target tomorrow, no one really has much information on how they will perform in the race so we will see. Things were looking really good, we had a very competitive Q1 and Q2, but unfortunately, we ended up not putting things together in Q3 and it made it worse that we got the lap deleted. It was a little bit of a disaster with the scrub set of tyres, we had an issue with the driveability and then unfortunately I got caught out by track limits. I had a moment coming out of turn one and that made it really difficult for me to get a lap together, it wasn't a very clean lap in the end. The podium will be the target tomorrow, no one really has much information on how they will perform in the race so we will see, as I always say, anything can happen."

Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Its been a phenomenal season so far, lets see if we can bring that home tomorrow. Final qualifying of the season and it was certainly a good one. Both drivers performed very well. Checo was unfortunate at the very end with track limits but its a good track to overtake here and he will take every opportunity tomorrow. For Max, it was a text book drive, his 4th consecutive pole here, its a great summation of his year. Obviously this sets us up well as we head into our last race. Its been a phenomenal season so far, lets see if we can bring that home tomorrow."

Scuderia Ferrari

Charles Leclerc (2nd, 1:23.584): "I'm really happy with my lap, and qualifying on the front row is not something we expected today. It's not the ideal track for us and considering the high temperatures, it could be a tough one tomorrow. Our main target is to take second place in the Constructors' championship. We will give it everything to finish the season on a high!"

Carlos Sainz (16th, 1:24.738): "It was a difficult day for me. We found ourselves in a challenging situation leaving the pits late due to a small issue with the front wing. Then the traffic during the push lap didn't help and I didn't manage to put a clean lap together, so that was my bad. So far it has been a tricky weekend but the race is tomorrow and I will push to recover and fight to score important points for the team. It's not over yet."

Frédéric Vasseur, Team Principal: "It was so tight today that anything was possible to the extent that at one point I thought that not just Carlos, but also Charles might have been out before Q3. Today, the out-lap was very important and towards the end of the session we nailed the right approach and we were finally able to do a good job. Charles only had one set of new Softs available for Q3 as we had to use an extra one in Q1 to be safe. But in that last phase he drove one of his mega laps. Now it's all about doing a better job than Mercedes tomorrow. We cannot predict what will happen but I think we have the pace. We need to score points with both cars so we will have to be aggressive in terms of strategy with Carlos. Unfortunately, we were late sending him out and he found himself in traffic and was unable to prepare the lap properly. We believe he can move up the field tomorrow, the car seems quite consistent now over a long stint and we can therefore be confident we can do a good job in our fight for second in the championship. We must just focus on ourselves."

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

George Russell (4th, 1:23.788): "Ahead of the weekend, we would have taken P4 in qualifying. Having said that, after the performance in FP3 where we were quickest every single lap, we only improved six tenths from that session to qualifying. Considering that track temperatures dropped and we had less fuel in the car, we didn't extract as much as we should have. That was a little disappointing. I want to end the season on a high so ultimately my goal is to be on the podium and get the most out of the points for the team in the Constructors' Championship so let's see what tomorrow holds for us - we will aim for the best result possible. I'm excited for the final race of the season and although Lewis had a tricky session today, I am sure he will move forward tomorrow."

Lewis Hamilton (11th, 1:24.359): "It was a challenging session for me today, I've been struggling with the set-up of the car here in Abu Dhabi this weekend, although our cars are set up the same, so we need to understand what it is on my side of the garage that's causing the lack of performance. George managed to get the most out of the car today finishing in P4. It takes some good going for me to not make it into Q3 so we need to do a deep dive and try our best to move up tomorrow. The team here and back in the factory deserves a good result for the final race of the season so we will work hard as always and hopefully it will pay off and we can find improvements ahead of tomorrow."

Toto Wolff, Team Principal: "FP3 felt strong so we're disappointed that we didn't manage to put it together in Qualifying. Both Lewis and George struggled with grip and overall performance of the car. Our expectations obviously were higher but P4 was the maximum we could achieve today with George and I think we can be content with that; Lewis had a more difficult time, and was knocked out in Q2 by just a few milliseconds. We need to understand why we struggled in qualifying after such a promising FP3 and how we can maximize our performance tomorrow. It was a challenging session for all teams and the field is so close together, so we need to work hard overnight and give it our all tomorrow to end the season on a positive note and secure our position in the Constructor's Championship."

Andrew Shovlin: "George had a really solid run over the three practice sessions and it felt like we might have done a bit better than fourth today but it was a decent lap, just seemed that in the cooler conditions we were lacking the strengths that we'd had on a hotter track. Lewis has had a difficult session, he sat out FP1 and only got three laps in due to the red flags in FP2 so was trying to fit low and high fuel work into the session this morning. That wasn't the best preparation for qualifying but hopefully it will help him tomorrow. We've done decent long run work this weekend, plenty of laps and hopefully we have a good handle on how the tyres are going to work. Hopefully we can have a strong race."

BWT Alpine F1 Team

Pierre Gasly (10th, 1:24.548): "I'm really pleased with today's result. We knew it would be tight and very close to reach Q3 and it even proved challenging to make it out in Q1 such were the fine margins. My Q2 lap was very strong, I was happy with that as it meant we comfortably made the top ten. Q3 was slightly messy for us and I feel like we did not maximise the session. We will analyse what happened, what we can do better, but still, I was certainly satisfied to be in Q3 again. We're starting in a good position for tomorrow and our target is to get some points. It will be a tough race and it's the last one of the year. I will give it my all and it would be good to end the season with a positive result."

Esteban Ocon (12th, 1:24.391): "The last Saturday of the season is over and we'll start in twelfth place on the grid tomorrow. Obviously, it is has been a disrupted week for me, so I think we did well to make the most of what we had in our hands. We'll all be pushing hard tomorrow to end the season on a positive note. It was a good but busy final Practice, trying to perfect our set up ahead of Qualifying, which started well and we had good pace to get through to Q2. Unfortunately, I did not have the best last run and we ended twelfth in the end, missing out of Q3 by just a tenth. We are not far from the points and even came from way further behind last week and into the points, so we will use that as motivation to fight for a top ten finish."

McLaren F1 Team

Oscar Piastri (3rd, 1:23.782): "It was a difficult session. It's been extremely tight this weekend. The pace was there, I just made a small mistake, but it would've had to have been quite a last corner to get on the front row. Overall, I'm happy with today, the car is very quick this weekend. It's a nice turnaround from Vegas for the team and I'm happy to be back in the top three. I'm not sure how our race pace will be, but we'll look into the data this evening. For everyone, it's probably going to be the same story. I think the most anyone's done is five laps in a row this weekend so tomorrow is going to be interesting. We'll work hard to secure positive points to finish the season strong."

Lando Norris (5th, 1:23.816): "A disappointing qualifying in the end for me. I don't know if I should have been P1, but I definitely feel like I should be starting at least P2. The pace has been very strong in the car all weekend which is a positive, so it's frustrating to come away with P5 but I'll look to gain positions in tomorrow's race to score good points for the team."

Andrea Stella, Team Principal: "A strong qualifying session here for the finale in Abu Dhabi. The car was competitive which allowed Lando and Oscar to fight for the top positions of the grid. Oscar gained confidence throughout the session, and he found his way to put the car in P3, which is a very good starting position for tomorrow's race. On Lando's side, it was there for pole position until the second to last corner, where unfortunately he had a large oversteer and lost a lot of lap-time. Nevertheless, we are confident for the race and we look forward to finishing the season on a high."

Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake

Valtteri Bottas (18th, 1:24.788): "Today's results are definitely disappointing, as up until the final practice session it looked like we had a chance to progress all the way through qualifying. In terms of feeling, we had actually made an improvement from yesterday, and our laps were decent. Unfortunately, I think there wasn't much more we could have brought out in terms of pace today. We'll be looking into the causes of this result overnight, to see what can be done to improve. Tomorrow will be a difficult one, starting from the last rows; hopefully, a clean start and some unexpected circumstances, like a Safety Car, can help us play our cards in the best way. It's the final race of the season, and we still want to wrap our year up in a decent way: we'll be giving it all out until the final corner of the final lap to achieve that."

Guanyu Zhou (19th, 1:25.159): "Before this session, our performance looked very promising, so we need to understand why we went backwards: everything felt different tonight, and it was a struggle to get the tyres working. I did a mistake in turn six, locked up both axles, and after that it was very difficult to recover: even without mistakes, though, I don't think we would have had the pace to come through to Q2. We can expect similar conditions tomorrow, and we need to see what we can change to make it better: it's the last race of the season, and we will give everything to make up some ground."

Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "We cannot deny that this has been a very disappointing qualifying session. We know the importance of a good starting position, especially on a track like this, so the balance for us, tonight, is very negative. We had a good FP3 earlier today, and both drivers confirmed they felt comfortable with both the setup and balance of the car, so we need to analyse what happened in qualifying and why we weren't even able to enter Q2. Zhou was matching Tsunoda up to turn six, when he locked both axles and lost six tenths. His lap was gone then, no chance to recover. Valtteri felt comfortable with the car and his lap was clean, but he just didn't have enough pace. We are still missing something in qualifying: we do need to understand how to extract performance from our car in these conditions. Tomorrow will be a challenge, starting from the back: we will give everything, but we will need exceptional circumstances to score points."

Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team

Fernando Alonso (7th, 1:24.084): "I'm pretty happy with seventh. We were not competitive earlier today in FP3 – 14th and 15th – so I had doubts about our overall pace this weekend. Then, in Q1, we were stronger than expected: I built up confidence through every session, so P7 is a nice result. It's an art to adjust to the rapid track evolution here and changing from scrubbed soft tyres to a fresh set means there's a lot of mixed feedback from the car. It made qualifying tricky. I think tyre degradation is going to make it a race of survival tomorrow night – let's hope for some chaos."

Lance Stroll (13th, 1:24.422): "The AMR23 felt good today and I was happy with our pace in Q1; I just didn't get the perfect clean lap in during my final Q2 run. I was pushing hard and trying to extract the most from the car, but it just didn't come together. The incredibly tight field meant that losing a couple of tenths was enough to stop us progressing to Q3. We generally have good race pace on a Sunday though, so we will see what we can do tomorrow to climb through the field and round off the season with a good result."

Mike Krack, Chief Operating Officer: "A well-executed performance by the team this evening in a session where very small gaps made the difference. Our laps were solid and we did not leave much on the table. We can race well from there and I expect both cars to compete for points tomorrow. There are some question marks over the long-run pace across the grid, but I think we are in good shape. There is plenty to play for in both championships and we will give it our all to end the season on a high note."

Haas F1 Team

Nico Hulkenberg (8th, 1:24.108): "I didn't expect this result to be honest as I hardly drove yesterday, I did one lap on the mediums, which wasn't a good starting point for today. This morning, I found a good harmony and had confidence in the car straight away, which was nice, and managed to take that into qualifying. I put in solid laps and didn't leave anything out there – so I'm happy. There's a lot of fast cars starting behind and we'll need some racing circumstances to help us, but we'll give it everything as we have done all season."

Kevin Magnussen (17th, 1:24.764): "I didn't really know what to expect as it's been a bit up and down. In FP2, in the dark, it looked good and FP3 looked fairly good – at least on mediums – as we didn't run on softs, so it might've been a different picture. It's the last race of the year, so we'll try again and I'll go out there to collect data for the team, but I'm looking forward to next year."

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "FP3 wasn't the best for us with the winds and the hot conditions, we couldn't get the car to perform. It looks like that performance came back when the winds fell and temperatures dropped. Kevin didn't make it, his lap wasn't his best, but Nico did a very good job to get into Q3 and achieve P8. That's better than we could've expected for the final race of the season, and tomorrow we will approach it as always. We'll try our best knowing in the race we don't have the best car but the whole team keeps trying – we keep pushing."

Scuderia AlphaTauri

Yuki Tsunoda (6th, 1:23.968): "Today was an enjoyable day, and especially qualifying was fun. The team did a very good job because yesterday wasn't the easiest day for us. The upgrades we brought looked good on paper, but in terms of balance, it was very different compared to the last races, so we struggled to understand them initially. We analysed the data, made changes, and progressed from session to session. I felt more comfortable in the car as we went on, so in qualifying, it was a really good car. The team was great and without everyone's effort, I wouldn't be starting P6 tomorrow. We're in a good position to score points, and even though we have some fast guys behind us, degradation seems high, so you never know what can happen. I think it's possible to finish in the top ten, so I'll do as much as I can, and finish high."

Daniel Ricciardo (15th, 1:24.442): "I didn't have any mistakes on my final lap, and I think we had a lot more to show. Our performance looked promising, but when we hit the track today, we felt we had lost some speed. We'll look through the data and find some answers. It's a shame because we looked relatively strong yesterday, so it's frustrating that we weren't able to achieve more today. Tomorrow is a long race, and it seems some teams saved a couple of hard-tyre compound sets, so hopefully, that will open some windows with strategy, and we can move forward."

Jonathan Eddolls, Chief Race Engineer: "The overnight data review showed that both cars needed to address their limitations in slightly different ways. Daniel needed more front-end, and Yuki required more stability compared to his car in FP2. Then, we had to balance that with the higher track temperature of FP3, knowing they would drop again for qualifying. The changes for Daniel went slightly too far, but it was good to have found the limit, so we came partway back for qualifying, with Yuki leaving his car setup similar to FP3. All teams entered qualifying on an even footing with tyres, having saved either two hard sets or two mediums and having four soft tyre sets for the three qualifying sessions. It was very tight, and with track evolution, we knew we would need two sets in Q1, leaving only a single new set for Q2. Daniel struggled more with his car throughout, for reasons we are still to get to the bottom of, so he didn't progress through to Q3. The gaps between cars were so close that 51ms would have put him in P12 compared to the P15 where he finished. His engineers are working hard to get to the bottom of this in preparation for the race tomorrow. Yuki did an amazing job and was super competitive throughout, progressing through to Q3 and putting in a stunning lap at the end on the last new tyre set to break into the 1:23's and line up in P6 tomorrow. Looking at those cars ahead, this was the maximum possible, and it's been a strong weekend for Yuki so far. The focus now turns to the strategy for the race, where we have to outscore Williams by 8 points to finish P7 in the Constructors' Championship. It's a very tall order with several fast cars behind, but we will fight until the chequered flag and do all we can to achieve our goal."

Williams Racing

Alexander Albon (14th, 1:24.439): "Our Q2 lap was slower than our Q1 lap, with our tyres just overheating really quickly. When the track goes quicker and you go theoretically faster and faster, by Sector 3 you've got no tyres left so you're having to do tyre management during Qualifying, which is not ideal and makes it tricky. A bit of a frustrating Qualifying but we'll have to look to tomorrow. Overheating will be a problem in the race, so I think it's going to be a toss-up between a one or two stop for most. Our long runs seem to be okay, so we'll do our own race and do the best job we can."

Logan Sargeant (20th, No Time): "At the end of the day, it's my mistake to have two laps deleted due to track limits. For sure it's disappointing but at the same time I've been driving well again this weekend. I feel like I've had the pace since the first lap on Friday. To have nothing to show from it after Qualifying is a shame. We'll move on and hopefully try to make up for it tomorrow. The car felt like we were in a good place yesterday on high fuel, quite consistent and reasonable degradation. However, there's not much data to see the pace of other cars because of the disrupted session yesterday. We'll give it our best shot tomorrow and go for it."

Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: "The car was quite good this evening and a perfect lap in Q2 might have qualified Alex for Q3, however, he couldn't quite replicate his pace from Q1 and with a congested midfield, he finished 14th, less than 0.1s from 11th. Logan had good pace on both runs in Q1 and could've made Q2, but two track limit errors cost him that opportunity and leaves him in a difficult place for the Grand Prix. Tomorrow is going to be an exciting end to the season, and we have a lot still to do to cement 7th place. AlphaTauri have a strong starting position, but the race will be long and there are a lot of cars with similar pace. We have a decent race car this weekend and with a good strategy we can fight the cars ahead."