Into the twilight zone

After 21 races, three wins, three pole positions, eight podium finishes, five fastest laps and 2,311 laps raced, we’ve reached the final round of the 2019 season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

And fittingly for the last race of the season, the sport’s only twilight start will see us race off into the sunset in pursuit of the final pieces of silverware on offer this year. 

And securing a trophy here is well within the bounds of possibility too, as Abu Dhabi has been pretty kind to the Team in the past. Since it joined the calendar in 2009, it’s provided us with three wins – in the inaugural year, 2010 and 2013 – and seven podium finishes overall. 

The most recent of those came last year courtesy of Max, who bagged third place last year despite an engine issue at the start that cost him some places. And after his victory in Brazil two weeks ago Max is keen to sign off on 2019 in similar fashion. 

For Alex, it’s a chance to get back in the saddle after the pain of missing out on his first F1 podium in Interlagos and at a track the rookie knows well. 

Max Verstappen 

You’re into a nice little run at the moment with a podium in the US and victory in Brazil, can you extend it in Abu Dhabi? 

After a great weekend in Brazil, the Team is in good spirits to have one final go at it in Abu Dhabi. We move from a flowing track like Interlagos to a tight and twisty circuit at Yas Marina where the car needs to be set up in a completely different way to Brazil in order to get the best out of it. This is always a challenge in Abu Dhabi as we transition between day and night practice sessions, with FP2 the most important session as it gives you the most representative read of qualifying and race conditions.

Looking back I think we can be pleased with our season this year, which is our first with Honda, and hopefully we can end it on a high this weekend before everyone breaks up for Christmas and New Year. 

Alex Albon 

For the first time since Sochi at the end of September you’re back at a track you have prior experience of. Are you looking forward to getting stuck into Yas Marina again?

I like Abu Dhabi and Yas Marina is quite a cool track that I know well. Everyone has different views on it but I like it. I think the last sector is pretty good, it’s technical, and every corner is very similar to the other so if you’re good in one, you’re good in most! 

There’s always a pretty good atmosphere in the paddock in Abu Dhabi too isn’t there? 

The weekend will have a different atmosphere for two different reasons. Firstly because it’s the last race of the season, so everyone is looking forward to the Christmas break and getting some rest. Secondly, Abu Dhabi is usually where the championship is decided in the junior categories like F2 and F3, which is what I was doing before F1. We have the test to look forward to the week after the race, but my focus right now is on finishing the year strongly and on a high so we take this momentum into 2020.