Max Verstappen has sent out a warning to his front-running Formula 1 rivals ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix claiming “they will be worried that at the start I will be coming to them”.

The Red Bull driver endured a frustrating qualifying at the Yas Marina Circuit with overheated tyres during his final Q3 run, which he blamed his team for, to leave him in sixth place on the grid for the 2018 finale.

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Verstappen is also the only driver from the top three teams to start on the softest compound tyres, Hypersoft, which theoretically makes him faster for the opening laps but will need to pit earlier than the rest.

Despite being on the alternative strategy, Verstappen is confident of making progress early on to attack and won’t alter his approach the final race of the season.

“I don’t see it [starting on Hypersofts] as a negative because they will be worried that at the start I will be coming to them,” Verstappen said. “So yes, maybe it’s nice in a way that we are different. At least we have two cars with different tyres so we can do different things.

“The approach is the same. The outcome is less of an issue because may be in the middle of the season you have bad qualifying or whatever, but you can really feel it in the paddock that everything is already decided. But definitely you still want to do a good job.”

At the last race Verstappen carved through the front-runners to lead the Brazilian Grand Prix with a stronger race pace before tangling with the lapped Esteban Ocon to lose out on victory to Lewis Hamilton.

Mathematically, Verstappen can still claim third place in the final F1 drivers’ standings as he trails Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen by 17 points with just three points splitting him from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in fourth place.

 

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