Lewis Hamilton qualified second for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, behind his championship rival Max Verstappen.

The British driver said he couldn’t compete against the Red Bull’s time at the end of qualifying, despite looking strong through the practice sessions.

“First thing, Max did a great lap today,” he said. “We just couldn’t compete with that time in the end there. But it was looking really strong through practice.

“We couldn’t answer to that lap, that was a fantastic lap from [Verstappen]. We’re in a good position I’d like to think, with our tires tomorrow, and I hope that we can have a good race.

“You saw the first lap, I dropped a bit of time in the last [turn] and turn 5. But the last lap was clean, I just couldn’t go any quicker.

“I don’t know if it’s tire preparation or whatever it may be in terms of the out lap, but nonetheless, I couldn’t beat the time [Verstappen] did today, he fully deserves the pole.”

The crowd at Abu Dhabi is divided between the Verstappen supporters and the Hamilton ones. The British driver received a negative welcome to the post-qualifying interview as the crowd booed him.

“We got a great crowd here regardless of the boos,” he recognized, “but I’m just grateful to see people here healthy.”

Speaking about tomorrow’s title-deciding race, Hamilton said: “I’m still on the front row, we got the difference, obviously, between the tires.”

“I’m grateful I can see where he is and then we can try to navigate from there,” he concluded.

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