Hamilton: I may have gone too far with my setup

Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas

Lewis Hamilton felt comfortable and confident in his Mercedes ahead of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but was beaten to pole position by Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas prompting the World Champion to admit that he had tinkered too much with his car’s setup.

Hamilton explained after the evening session at Yas Marina Circuit, “Practice had gone good this morning and I was really comfortable with the car. The track gets cooler from the afternoon so you make some changes to counteract that and I may have gone too far, I obviously went too far with it, and I struggled with the balance.

“I was giving it everything but I was fighting the car the whole time, she wasn’t too happy today but it is great to see Valtteri up there. Naturally, we’ll try to have a race tomorrow I just hope it isn’t like a train tomorrow. I hope it is a battle tomorrow whether it is through degradation or pit stops or whatever. I’m looking forward to it.”

Ferrari were expected to up the ante in qualifying, but Sebastian Vettel did not have the firepower to take on the Silver Arrows and ended the session half a second down on the pole-winning time, with Kimi Raikkonen a further quarter of a second adrift.

Hamilton was surprised that a challenge did not materialise, “It was like half a second [to Ferrari] so I wasn’t expecting that. Generally, when it gets cooler that bodes well for us. I think in the race trim they are usually quite good so I think tomorrow is coming to be close between all three of us.”

The Briton was clearly pleased to see his teammate up his game, “Congratulations to Valtteri, he did a fantastic job in qualifying. It’s good to see him performing at this level, particularly at the end of the season which puts him in a great position for next year.”