Stevens impresses in maiden F1 qualifying outing

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ABU DHABI – Formula 1 debutant Will Stevens enjoyed a successful maiden qualifying outing for Caterham in Abu Dhabi today, feeling that he could have matched the pace of teammate Kamui Kobayashi had he not made a mistake on his final lap.

Following Caterham’s surprise return to the grid for the race in Abu Dhabi, Stevens was confirmed to be replacing Marcus Ericsson after the Swedish driver terminated his deal with the team last week.

The British Formula Renault 3.5 driver managed to secure his FIA super licence on Thursday, meaning that he could take part in this weekend’s race for Caterham and make his F1 debut.

After a difficult pair of practice sessions on Friday, Stevens began to get to grips with the CT-05 car on Saturday, finishing just half a second shy of Kobayashi in qualifying despite having completed far less running.

However, he feels that he could have outqualified his teammate had it not been for a mistake on his final Q1 lap.

“I was looking very strong on my last qualifying lap,” Stevens explained. “I matched Kamui through the first two sectors but I made a mistake going into Turn 17. I was actually a second quicker than my previous lap at that point.

“I’m pleased because I know that if I hadn’t made that mistake I would’ve been matching my teammate, but obviously I’m disappointed because I could’ve done better.

“Overall it’s been a positive day. This morning in FP3 we started to push and I had some good performance runs. I was pretty happy with my prime tire run but my option run was quite messy and I didn’t get the most out of the tires.

“I feel comfortable and I just need to keep a cool head and enjoy my first ever Formula 1 race tomorrow. We will all do our best as we want to show all the fans out there how much their support means to us.”

Following the exclusion of both Red Bull drivers from qualifying, Stevens will make his F1 race debut from 17th place on the grid.