(Conducted by Mark Webber)
Q: Valtteri, you’re impressive mate, you’ve even turned up with no car. How did you get pole with no car?
Valtteri BOTTAS: I’m a good runner!
Q: You’re a very good runner. Also, I know your wife is here, so did she bring you some luck, because she doesn’t come to too many races, so it’s a special pole, your fourth career pole. To beat Lewis, we know how tough it is, so run us through your session tonight.
VB: Yeah, of course family support is always nice first of all. Today things were really getting better and better for me in the practice session and also in the quali, I just managed to find time here and there and it was all under control, and I just felt very good in the car. The Q3, run one lap was really good and so that was enough for pole and so I’m really happy.
Q: Sensational, mate, really good effort. Lewis, pretty handy lap from him wasn’t it?
Lewis HAMILTON: What a lap. He just had an incredible qualifying and congratulations to him. How you guys doing? You good? We have a great crowd here today. The last qualifying of the year, I gave it everything, but I seem to have lost a little pace going into qualifying, Valtteri did an exceptional job, so really, really happy for him.
Q: Yeah, but it’s easily done here to overcook the last Q3 lap isn’t it? It’s such a Mickey Mouse sort of track, so easy to overcook that rear tyre. We saw you run maybe a bit wide off the back of the straight right?
LH: Yeah, I think just overall it was just little bits here and there. I was up, I think, a tenth and a half out of Turn 1 and then I lost it in Turn 5 and 6. Either way it’s been an incredible year of qualifying and one that I’ve really enjoyed and it’s great to see so many British flags here, so many people here today, so I appreciate it.
Q: Good job, mate. Sebastian, well done, mate. It was a bit of a Mercedes show tonight unfortunately. You’re handy around here, but you couldn’t fight enough for the pole position, right?
Sebastian VETTEL: I was going to say: I’m getting better, you always had the edge here in qualifying. It think it was a good session. Obviously a bit of a shame to be that far back, but tomorrow we see, on race pace I think we can be a bit closer, but they have been very, very strong. Valtteri obviously had a mega lap, so congrats to him. We’ll see. It should be a fun race. Overtaking is not always straightforward but not impossible here, so let’s see.
Q: Good luck, mate, I’m sure you can give them a good crack. We’ll finish with Valtteri, we’ve got to convert this into a win haven’t we. Run us through your emotions about how you’re going to get the job done tomorrow and beat this legend that’s had pretty big season?
VB: Yeah, I was so gutted in Brazil, in the last race, being on pole and missing the win, so I have a clear target for tomorrow and I’m sure you guys will support me, so thank you.
Q: Valtteri, pole number four, your first here in Abu Dhabi, two and a half seconds inside last year’s pole time, and a great fight against your team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Two in a row as well, so tell us about your emotions. You were very excited after the pole in Brazil but I wonder after what happened after the start are you containing your emotions and saving them for this time tomorrow night?
VB: Yeah, thank you, definitely a good feeling. It’s only the fourth for me. It was just a really clean session for me, everything was really seamless. The team did a really good job on the timing, what time to be on the track, and we had to make very minimal changes during the qualifying to any settings really. I could just really focus on the driving itself and finding lap time here and there. I managed to get pretty much everything together in Q3, run one. It was a good lap. In the end that was enough for pole. I know the day is tomorrow and there is no point in getting too excited. Of course, you need to enjoy the good feeling, but it’s only today and tomorrow is the day that counts.
Q: Lewis, it’s been a strong weekend so far, you’ve looked good in all conditions. You were nine one thousandths of a second up on Valtteri’s time going into the final part of the lap. Was it that last exit of the corner where it got away from you? Tell us about that and also how you plan to turn it round tomorrow?
LH: First of all, congratulations to Valtteri, he did an exceptional job through qualifying and it’s great to see to him performing at this level, particularly at the end of the season, which puts him in a great position for next year. For me, I was good through practice and P3 was great and then I made some changes in anticipation of the track cooling and in hindsight it probably wasn’t the right one. But it was nice to experiment, which I hadn’t really done all season long. I experimented and then I struggled a little bit with the balance generally through the laps. I think at the end I was a tenth and a half up out of Turn 1 and then I lost it somewhere else in the rest of the lap. Nonetheless it was fun to be out there challenging, the last qualifying of the year, finally it’s done and we can just get on with the race tomorrow. It’s a very hard track to overtake, there are a couple of opportunities but I’ll give it everything I’ve got that’s for sure.
Q: Sebastian, half a second the margin to Mercedes. Maurizio Arrivabene, on the pit wall, shook his head when he saw the gap. Were you shaking your head as well? Was that a little bit more than you expected in this qualifying session, and can you turn it around in the race?
SV: Overall we tried everything. I think the balance of the car was good all weekend. We trimmed it in the right way. Practice this morning was a bit tricky but qualifying really came together, so I’m quite happy with that. The gap is big but also it’s a long lap, so naturally the gaps are a bit more spread. I think in the race we usually get a little bit closer. Qualifying we’ve seen all year that we’ve never had the car to put half a second between us and somebody else. For the race I’m fairly optimistic. I think yesterday was good, we tried some stuff, so we’ll see how close we get tomorrow. We touched on overtaking – it’s not the easiest one but it’s not impossible, so let’s see what we can do.