Lewis Hamilton ‘angry’ as Red Bull’s Max Verstappen starts on pole at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen analysed by Coulthard

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes Lewis Hamilton’s “anger” will help fuel the fire ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after missing out on pole by 0.371s to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Hamilton and Verstappen are equal on points heading into the final race of the season, with the winner, or the driver who finishes higher, crowned champion.

Red Bull’s spectacular strategy call during the final part of qualifying helped the championship leader shoot to the top of the timing screens, with Hamilton starting in second with McLaren’s Lando Norris P3.

According to his boss, the seven-time world champion will be channeling his frustrations into the race on Sunday.

When asked if he will speak about the start of the race with Hamilton, Wolff told Sky Sports F1: “I think there’s nothing you need to say. I think he’s going to be angry, and that’s good and motivated for tomorrow to just hunt him [Verstappen] down.

“We on the back foot and sometimes you need to see the positive and that’s not too bad as a starting point.”

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After using the tow from his team-mate Sergio Perez, the 24-year-old will start the race on the soft compound of tyre, with the Mercedes both on the medium and therefore will be able to run longer than the Red Bulls.

Wolff added: “I’d much rather start on the medium from P2.

“We will have a slight disadvantage on the start and the first six, seven laps if he drives fast.

“If he manages, then that’s not a big advantage for him but we can go longer. We can go for an aggressive undercut also.

“I tried to control track positions so overnight they will be running lots of programmes and algorithms to see where it ends.”

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The title, which will be decided on Sunday, has ebbed and flowed between the two drivers, with the title coming down to the wire in Abu Dhabi for the first time since Nico Rosberg in 2016.

Yet, the Austrian admitted tyres weren’t their only concern going into the final winner-takes-all race.

“I’m also worried for tomorrow because their long runs were much better on Friday,” added Wolff. “Our times were just not in the window, they were.

“You can see Q1, Q2 was ours. It looked like a pretty easy run and then suddenly you lose all the performance.”

The final race of the 2021 season gets underway at 1pm GMT on Sunday on Channel 4 alongside its usual home of Sky Sports F1, with the normal coverage on BBC 5 Live in the UK.

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