Renault Sport Formula One Team’s Nico Hülkenberg will start the season-ending Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from a superb seventh position after a strong qualifying session. The German negotiated the ultra-modern Yas Marina Circuit in 1:38.282secs to start the crucial 2017 finale from the fourth row. Team-mate Carlos Sainz will line up twelfth.
Tomorrow’s 55 lap race will start at 17h00 local time as the sun sets and will conclude under the floodlights in darkness.
Nico Hülkenberg, #27, R.S.17-04, Q: P7 1:38.282 FP3: P12 1:39.396
“We know it’s only qualifying and anything can happen in the race, but we’ve put ourselves in a good position. I had one of my best quali laps this year in Q2 and I was very pleased with that. In Q3 I was starting to struggle a bit more, as the temperatures were dropping off but we see that every year. The long run pace has felt pretty good and I have felt strong in the car so we are as confident as we can be at this stage. We will approach tomorrow as a normal race, but are hoping we can hang on to that seventh place.”
Carlos Sainz, #55, R.S.17-01, Q: P12 1:38.725 FP3: P9 1:39.340
“I have to say that from my side it was a bit disappointing in the end, particularly as we felt we had the pace in FP3 and Q1 to make it through to Q3. Unfortunately Q2 was a bit compromised by front tyre warm-up – I had a poor out lap and couldn’t put temperature in the tyres so the fastest lap was not optimum. We have shown we have the pace over the long runs, so tomorrow we are targeting a good race and getting into the points. Nico is in a very good position and it puts the team into a strong place for the race tomorrow, which is very important.”
Alan Permane, Sporting Director:
It was a very decent effort…
What are your thoughts on the qualifying performance today?
It was a very decent effort from Nico in Q3. His lap in Q2 was exceptional and we felt that if we could repeat that in Q3 we would be in really good shape. We couldn’t quite replicate it exactly, but it was good enough for seventh, which is where we need to be for the race tomorrow. Naturally we are a little bit disappointed for Carlos. He didn’t seem to quite get a lap together. He struggled with traffic on his out laps and didn’t get the tyre preparation exactly as he wanted, but he’s nevertheless just outside the top ten in a competitive position.
With the championship so close, what is the approach tomorrow?
Running the race is reasonably straightforward. We need a good first lap then to sprint away from the cars behind. I don’t think we will be able to stay with the top six cars ahead but I’m hoping for a very boring, lonely race to give us the points we need.