Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was downbeat after a curtailed day of practice in Abu Dhabi and said that getting into Q3 will be “a challenge.”
Hamilton missed out on running in FP1, making way for young driver and Formula 2 championship hopeful Frederik Vesti and when it was time for the seven-time World Champion to get behind the wheel of the W14 in FP2, two Red Flags cut into his running time.
A massive shunt for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz brought out a lengthy red flag period, which was immediately followed by a second shorter red flag when Nico Hulkenberg tagged the wall in his Haas.
The two stoppages contributed to Hamitlon assessing his Friday as “not the greatest of days,” leaving him with work to do tomorrow.
“I only got four timed laps really so that’s not a lot in a day in terms of your knowledge of the car and the track.,” Hamilton said.
“But the car doesn’t feel bad I think we’re not in a terrible place, I hope that I get some more running tomorrow.”
Despite a surprise pole position in Hungary earlier this year, Hamilton conceded that Abu Dhabi will be another venue where qualifying is a trick session to navigate and that he’s “not hopeful” of a Q3 appearance.
“We’ve had difficult qualifying sessions getting out of Q1, and into Q2 for example has always been a tough battle and even just getting into Q3 is a challenge,” he said.
“So, the work tomorrow morning just has to be making sure that we can try and get into Q3 but I think it’s going to be close.
“I think George is looking good so he might be in a better place but he was in P1. I’m not going to try and make excuses, I’m just going to get on it tomorrow.”
Hamilton’s teammate George Russell was filled with more optimism after Friday’s running, calling it “pretty positive.”
Russell was fastest in FP1, albeit with 10 rookies out on track and had admitted that it was “difficult to gauge where the pace of the car was at”. An interrupted FP2 session wouldn’t have done much to help that.
Despite these difficulties, however, Russell is happy with his pace after finishing FP2 with the sixth fastest time.
“I felt good out there, the long run pace seems good which is going to be the most important,” Russell said.
“I think it’s going to be close out there with the likes of Lando and maybe Charles, we always know obviously Red Bull have got a little bit more in their pocket.
“So I’m excited going into tomorrow.”
Mercedes will be needing both drivers to extract the maximum from the W14 tomorrow in Qualifying in order to steal a march on close rivals Ferrari.
The Brackley-based outfit currently holds a four-point advantage over the Scuderia for second in the Constructors’ Championship.