Red Bull’s Max Verstappen believes that “there are no guarantees” heading into his title-deciding showdown against Lewis Hamilton, despite clinching pole position for 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Verstappen finished second in FP3 before managing to top Q2 and Q3 to claim pole position ahead of Hamilton, despite suffering a flat-spotted medium tyre in Q2 which forced him to set his fastest Q2 lap on the soft tyres.
Victory from pole would therefore see Verstappen become the first Dutch F1 champion who enters the race locked on 369.5 points alongside Hamilton.
“It’s always good to have a performance like this one today, but there are no guarantees for tomorrow, I still expect it to be a really hard battle.” said Verstappen who is consequently slightly nervous heading into the race as he finds himself on a trickier tyre strategy than initially planned.
Reflecting on his weekend so far, Verstappen said: “So far, the car has been good and throughout the practice sessions we made some good improvements to the car. I think everything worked out well, especially with Checo’s help, it was nicely executed.”
Perez helped Verstappen secure pole position after providing the Dutchman with a slipstream tow for his opening Q3 lap which was good enough for pole, with Verstappen hailing the Mexican as “a great teammate and a real pleasure to work with so a big thank you to him.”
Perez who qualified fourth in turn revealed that he and Verstappen had discussed the tow with Red Bull and is delighted that it paid off, despite the trickiness of “very difficult” timing to nail its maximum impact for Verstappen without hurting his downforce.
On whether he would be willing to deploy that strategy again in future, Perez simply said; “I think if we tried it again then it is very likely it would go wrong!”
Whilst Verstappen was jus “okay” about starting on the soft tyres, Perez on the other hand is more excited as he added; “There is still a lot we can do starting on the soft tyre; it is a long game and we don’t think the starting tyre is going to dictate too much. I think there is a great race ahead of us.”