11 Dec 2021
2021 ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX QUALIFYING
- Nicholas Latifi qualified 16th and George Russell 17th for the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
- Nicholas set a 1:24.388 using the soft Pirelli tyre on his final flying lap, only missing out on progressing to Q2 by 0.113s
- George, also running the soft compound tyre, set a 1:24.423 on his penultimate lap of Q1 and was unable to improve with his final effort
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance: We’ve had a difficult end to the season’s qualifying sessions. The car had the pace to get into Q2 but only if we could get the tyres into the perfect window. This worked well for George in the opening run, but Nicholas had a slightly more difficult out-lap. For the second run, we opted to split the cars, with Nicholas going early and George letting the main group go before setting off. Neither got a perfect out-lap, but George was in a great position until the very end of his out-lap when he had to let the early leavers past because the cars ahead started fanning out.
It is frustrating not to have got a better result, especially as this is George’s last race weekend with us; we’ll review what we did and understand if we could’ve done something better. However, we have both cars ahead of Räikkönen, and Giovinazzi is only a couple of places ahead and so there is still a good opportunity tomorrow.
Today we did what we have done all season: aimed for the small window of perfection in a bid to outqualify the basic pace of the car, but today it didn’t pay off as well as it has at previous races. That is the nature of Formula One, especially in Q1 when 20 cars are vying for a short piece of track.
Nicholas Latifi: I think we were hoping for more on track today as the car felt decent. It’s rare that neither of us make it to Q2, it’s the minimum goal so to not achieve that as a team is frustrating. There are definitely things we could have improved; my lap time could have been better and we struggled a bit with traffic ahead of that last lap. It’s always an issue in Abu Dhabi when everyone is trying to get position in the final sector. It means you arrive at Turn One not really knowing what the car will do when you hit the brakes, so I expect we could have found some extra time there. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow, it’s a long race and the new layout should improve overtaking.
George Russell: The car was feeling great on our flying laps and I was really confident that we could progress into Q2. We went for one push lap at the end and unfortunately, the tyres weren't quite ready so we didn't improve our best time and that was a shame. However, the points are scored tomorrow and the most important thing is to secure P8 in the Constructors' Championship. I believe we can achieve that, but we know it's not over until it's over. We will be doing everything we can to finish ahead of Alfa Romeo.