Lewis Hamilton has expressed confidence that Mercedes will be fighting for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix victory on Sunday.
The Brackley-based squad enters the race weekend having picked up its first win of 2022 last time out in Brazil via George Russell.
It has mostly endured a difficult year, often competing off the pace of the front of the field.
But in the latter stages of the campaign Mercedes has turned its form around, leaving Hamilton confident after Friday practice from the Yas Marina Circuit that it can be in contention this weekend.
Verstappen ends FP2 in Abu Dhabi on top for Red Bull
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F1 2022 Abu Dhabi GP – FP2 Results
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“FP1 felt pretty good,” he said. “FP2, the balance was quite a bit off. I made some changes between one and two and they weren’t the right ones.
“So a bit of a struggle in P2 with the oversteer, which was mostly my limitation. But otherwise, we’re relatively competitive, we’re right there.
“I think the Red Bulls look quicker here, which was expected. We didn’t expect this to be our strongest race.
“But we’ll work hard overnight. We’re generally right there, so hopefully we can put on a good race.”
Hamilton is yet to win a race this year – should he fail to do so in Abu Dhabi, it will mark the first season of his career that he hasn’t stood atop the podium.
With Russell entering the round full of confidence following his maiden F1 victory in Sao Paulo, the Briton is also expecting to be competing for the top positions.
“I think we’ll be fighting for it. I’d like to think we’ll be fighting for the top three in qualifying and who knows where that can take us on Sunday,” he said.
“I think we had a very strong day in terms of what we learnt. We had quite a lot of test items, especially on my side, in FP1 looking ahead to 2023 and this is one of our last opportunities to test.
“FP2 with a cooler track temperature, the track changed completely and it felt fast out there but I think Red Bull just have the legs on us.
“Single lap, probably two-tenths ahead. Long runs, maybe even further. We’ve got a little bit of work to do overnight, but compared to Ferrari it looked reasonable.”
Keyword: ‘We’re right there’ – Hamilton confident over Mercedes’ Abu Dhabi chances