McLaren were the stars of the midfield in qualifying for the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Lando Norris best of the rest in fourth on the grid and Carlos Sainz in sixth.
The customer Renault team were almost a second better than the works outfit – neither yellow and black car made it beyond 2 – while Lando impressed with his 1:35.497s effort which sees hi start alongside the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton on row two.
Lando reported afterwards, “Very happy, I felt like I did a really good job. I was very comfortable in the car and felt like I nailed my lap on that final run.
“I definitely took another step forward in Q3, which I’m really pleased about. We’re ahead of a few people we didn’t expect to be ahead of, so great work by the team at track and at the factory to get us in this position.
“I’m on a Soft start tomorrow and some other cars around me are going to be on the Medium, so I think it’s going to be an interesting race.
“It’ll probably be quite tough in the first stint, but starting from the second row gives us a great chance to score some decent points. We had good pace today and we’ll do our best to carry it into tomorrow,” added the young Englishman.
“I’m happy with that one.” 🗯️📻
What a lap! 🚀👏 @LandoNorris pic.twitter.com/NIuABnyawp
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) December 12, 2020
In the sister car, Carlos was a tad over three tenths down on his teammate. The Spaniard in his last qualifying for McLaren before he begins the Ferrari chapter of his career.
The Spaniard said, “A very good day for the team. I think the main thing is that we got the two cars into the top six on split strategies as well. I started off strong, using only one set of tyres to make it into Q2.
“I had a good feeling with the Medium tyre yesterday and I wanted to give it a go in Q2, managing to put together a strong lap and qualifying for Q3 on that compound.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t put together my best lap on my final run in Q3. Some overheating on the rear axle and a couple of mistakes on my side meant I couldn’t qualify further up.
“I wanted to get the highest possible result in my final quali session with the team and maybe I pushed too hard! It’s a shame, but overall I’m happy with what we did in Q1 and Q2 with the Medium tyres, which puts us in a good spot for tomorrow.
“I’m really looking forward to fighting for McLaren one last time and hopefully bringing home a good result. Vamos!” declared Carlos ahead of his 37th and last race as a McLaren driver.
Team boss Andreas Seidl was happy, “Congratulations to the entire team, both drivers and our colleagues at Renault for one of the best qualifying sessions we’ve had this year. There was a clear plan today, it was executed well in the garage, and the drivers were able to deliver the laps when it mattered.
“Carlos did a great job to get through Q2 on the Medium tyres, which will give him a small advantage tomorrow, and Lando put in a brilliant final lap in Q3 to start P4.
“Having said that, the car has been competitive all through practice, and the team has been able to improve it step-by-step. It’s testament to a lot of great work that’s gone in back at the factory this year, continually pushing development and improving the car throughout the season.
“We won’t get carried away with one good Saturday, because the points are distributed tomorrow. We’ll focus on preparing for this final race of 2020 in the same way we’ve prepared for the previous 16. It should be a compelling Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.”
McLaren lie fourth in the 2020 F1 constructors’ championship, ten points adrift of Lance Stroll which means the battle for third in the championship is at stake at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday.
Renault are a further 12 points behind, which makes it a threeway battle for a big wad of prize-money, with a big difference between what gets dished out to third and fifth.