It was an increasingly familiar refrain from Lewis Hamilton after he was edged by team mate Nico Rosberg after the first day of running in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s very hard to overtake here so of course it’s better to be up on pole,” the world champion said. “But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to win from further back.”
Beating Rosberg to pole position has proved beyond Hamilton in the last five races, and in the last two Rosberg has converted it into victory. But with the number six Mercedes also at a slight disadvantage on the straights, Hamilton must fancy his chances of denying his team mate a hat-trick of wins over the final three races.
Hamilton found his super-soft tyres went off quickly during his brief stint on them but race engineer Peter Bonnington suggested he would be able to make them last as long as Rosberg with more careful management of them at the beginning of the stint.
Kimi Raikkonen spent far longer on the super-soft than Hamilton but also couldn’t sustain his pace on them as well as Rosberg was able to. His team mate Sebastian Vettel did a long and very consistent run on the softs, but afterwards was dissatisfied with the team’s initial performance: “I would like the gap to be smaller [to Mercedes] and bigger to the cars behind.”
Degradation was far better on the soft than the super-softs, and peak performance was little worse, indicating the strategy this year will be much the same as it was 12 months ago: start on super-softs then switch to softs for two stints. Any drivers who can make the super-softs last well may be in a position to use them again at the end of the race, ideally if they have a fresh set left over from qualifying.
The closest challenger to Mercedes over a single lap was Sergio Perez. “Force India were quick and surprisingly strong here,” noted Daniel Ricciardo, although Perez’s long run was scuppered by a fairly serious brake fire.
“Both drivers were happy with the baseline balance,” said chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer. “The cooler temperatures in the second session were much more representative of what we expect for qualifying and the race, and both Nico [Hulkenberg] and Sergio remained happy with the balance and the changes we made between the sessions.”
Longest stint comparison: All drivers
This chart shows all the drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint. Very slow laps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, right-click to reset:
Longest stint comparison: Fastest drivers
This chart shows six drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint on the super-soft tyres. Very slow laps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, right-click to reset:
This chart shows six drivers’ lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint on the soft tyres. Very slow laps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, right-click to reset:
Complete practice times
|3||Sergio Perez||Force India-Mercedes||1’44.934||1’42.610||50|
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull-Renault||1’44.893||1’42.647||61|
|6||Daniil Kvyat||Red Bull-Renault||1’44.702||1’42.798||57|
|8||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1’44.751||1’42.928||57|
|13||Max Verstappen||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’45.718||1’43.662||71|
|14||Carlos Sainz Jnr||Toro Rosso-Renault||1’46.220||1’43.854||41|
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