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Hamilton relishing Verstappen battle after Red Bull topple Mercedes

Hamilton relishing Verstappen battle after Red Bull topple Mercedes

F1 News

Hamilton relishing Verstappen battle after Red Bull topple Mercedes

Hamilton relishing Verstappen battle after Red Bull topple Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton claimed it is "more exciting" for him to be starting on the second row of the grid after he was out-paced in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The returning world champion, who missed the last race with Covid-19, lines up behind polesitter Max Verstappen and team-mate Valtteri Bottas having missed out on pole by just 0.086 seconds.

Hamilton revealed he was looking forward to finding ways to get back to the front of the field and said: "It's always nice to start first, but you can't always. This makes it more exciting.

"It's a very difficult track to overtake on naturally, but with strategy and everything, the start is going to be important, the first few laps and the stints. I am definitely excited to try and find out how I can turn it around.

"I am just really grateful to be back with the team and try to close out at least the strong season we have had. It has definitely been a difficult weekend, I would say.

"Just getting back into the rhythm, even though it has only been a couple of weeks off, it felt like we have lost that momentum and really struggled with the balance of the car this weekend.

"Congratulations to Max, it is a great way for him to seal the year of great performance. We're going to hopefully give him a good run for [his] money."

Bottas was on provisional pole before Verstappen posted the fastest lap in the closing moments of Q3 and put the team's shortcomings down to a lack of understanding of the soft compound tyre.

"We saw in practice three that Red Bull - especially in the hands of Max - was very quick," he explained. "I think the main issue was we couldn't really get the soft tyres to work properly as it should.

"All the way until qualifying, the medium was feeling better for us than the soft. I think we made some improvements, but looking at the result, I don't think we got 100 per cent out of the single lap on the tyres."

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