Vettel staying optimistic in Abu Dhabi despite Mercedes pole

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Sebastian Vettel remains optimistic he can get in the fight for victory in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix despite trailing Mercedes Formula 1 drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton in qualifying at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Mercedes picked up its 15th pole position of the season on Saturday as Bottas edged out Hamilton in a close-fought Q3 session, leaving Vettel half a second off the pace for Ferrari in P3.

After winning the last race in Brazil, Vettel hoped to close out the season with his first set of back-to-back victories in over four years, but is not giving up just yet.

“We tried everything,” Vettel said after qualifying. “I think the balance of the car was good all weekend. We trimmed it in the right way. Practice this morning was a bit tricky but qualifying really came together, so I’m quite happy with that.

“The gap is big but also it’s a long lap, so naturally the gaps are a bit more spread. I think in the race we usually get a little bit closer.

“Qualifying we’ve seen all year that we’ve never had the car to put half a second between us and somebody else.

“For the race I’m fairly optimistic. I think yesterday was good, we tried some stuff, so we’ll see how close we get tomorrow.

“On overtaking, it’s not the easiest one but it’s not impossible, so let’s see what we can do.”

While Vettel may have little more than securing P2 in the drivers’ championship up for grabs in Abu Dhabi, the German stressed the importance of laying foundations for next year by signing off with a victory.

“I think the last race is important. Obviously if you’re not in the fight for the championship, it still is important to set things up for the winter, just give a boost to the whole factory,” Vettel said.

“So let’s see what we do. I don’t believe that the result tomorrow determines next year – but for sure a good result always helps you, gives everyone a boost over the winter, so we try our best.”

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.