Max Verstappen does not believe he had the pace to compete with the Mercedes drivers in the final stage of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, settling for third place.

Verstappen qualified third on Saturday at the Yas Marina Circuit, falling three-tenths of a second shy of Lewis Hamilton’s pole time, with Valtteri Bottas splitting the pair in the second Mercedes.

The result saw Mercedes continue its streak of one-two finishes in qualifying in Abu Dhabi into a sixth year – although Bottas will drop to the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.

Verstappen was pleased with his effort when speaking after the session, believing he could not have put up much more of a fight to the Mercedes ahead.

“The end of the lap was pretty decent. There was not much I could do better I think,” Verstappen said.

“It is never a perfect lap, but it was good. I was just driving to the limits. We seem to lack a bit of grip compared to them, especially they are very quick in the last sector, and there are a lot of off-camber corners.

“They are always very dominant here on this track. We tried to be as close as we could. Unfortunately we were just lacking a bit too much in that last sector.

“Overall, I’m pretty pleased, to be third in qualifying and second on the grid. Of course I would prefer to be there on pure pace, but for us I thought it was pretty positive weekend.”

Verstappen will be chasing his fourth win of the season from P2 on the grid tomorrow, but said he needed to stay “realistic” about his chances.

“I think Mercedes is very quick. We’ll give it everything we have tomorrow in the race,” Verstappen said.



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