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Mercedes in Abu Dhabi on the front row: where does Ferrari lose time?

Wilhelm
Mercedes in Abu Dhabi in the front row
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D he records in Abu Dhabi have to be rewritten . Sebastian Vettel has set off the fastest lap ever driven on the Yas Marina Circuit. Valtteri Bottas undercut the qualifying record from 2011 by 2.250 seconds. And the Finn was 2.524 seconds faster than Lewis Hamilton in his pole position the year before.

Bottas' best time was not necessarily to be expected. In the third training session and on Friday, Lewis Hamilton still dominated. “I changed the setup a little before qualifying in order to anticipate the cooler temperatures in the evening. The shot backfired. The car was no longer optimally balanced, ”said the world champion. Then Hamilton praised his team mate: “Valtteri did a great job. After the first corner I was one and a half tenths below my best time to date. I lost that again later in turns 5 and 6. ”

Bottas crawled step by step towards his fourth pole position. “The car ran great, the setup was right. I was able to concentrate fully on driving and improved curve by curve, detail by detail. In the end there were so many details that it was enough for pole. ”Looking at his defeat at the Brazilian GP, ​​the Finn said:“ Now I have to do it in the race. In the end, only Sunday counts. If you start from pole, there can only be one goal. You have to win. ”

It is not the first time that Bottas has told this story. Whenever the Silver Arrow worked from day one, the third place in the World Cup was a candidate for top places. The difference to Hamilton is that the world champion did not need this feel-good factor. Team principal Toto Wolff sums up: “We never doubted Valtteri's speed. Lewis just hit the point where the car and tires harmonized more often. ”

Mercedes on the straights and faster in the corners

Mercedes was a force on one lap in Abu Dhabi . Sebastian Vettel lost half a second on the fastest in training despite a well balanced car and an almost perfect lap. On paper, the Yas Marina Circuit should be a Ferrari track. The 5.554-kilometer circuit demands a lot of downforce and it stresses the rear tires.

Nevertheless, Mercedes entered the final battle of the year with optimism: “Just breaking it down to downforce istoo simplistic, ”Wolff defends. “We don't automatically have a problem with a lot of contact pressure. Abu Dhabi has always suited us. Maybe it's also the type of corners that suit our car. There is no plausible explanation. '

Sebastian Vettel is annoyed by the assessment that Mercedes did not build a good car this year:' They had the best car in qualifying. And you don't win two world championships with one crutch either. ”Like Wolff, the World Cup runner-up is of the opinion that you shouldn't think in boxes. Because of a lot of downforce speaks for Ferrari and little for Mercedes. “The Mercedes gained a lot of time on us in the second sector with the two straights and lost nothing in the corners. Or even made up time there. ”

A look at the route layout shows why Mercedes is breaking the rule in Abu Dhabi. The three straights make up almost half of the route. Mercedes can afford to drive a lot of downforce. Not the others with less power. They also pay for that in the corners. The sector times and top speeds of the top 4 tell the whole story:

Bottas will be more aggressive at the start

Vettel can only keep up with his fast corners in sector 1. The Ferrari driver loses 0.25 seconds on the top speed section and the last sector with a total of 11 corners. Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo a little more. In summary: Mercedes had the faster car on the straight and in the medium-fast and slow corners of the last part of the route. There is only a tie in the fast corners. Vettel explains the big difference with the length of the lap. What is half a second at 96 seconds would be 0.39 seconds behind with a lap time of 1.10 minutes. That sounds nicer.

For Vettel and Bottas, the last race of the year is about second place in the World Championship. Vettel could push a calm ball in the race with a 22 point lead, but he has nothing to do with that. “I want to win, even if second place is still important for us. The goal is to end the season with dignity. ”A good start like in Brazil would help. Wolff warns: “In Brazil, Valtteri was too cautious because he didn't see Sebastian in the mirror and didn't know where he was. That could be a different story this time. 'Vettel sees a chance not only at the start:' Overtaking is not easy here, but also not impossible. '

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