Mick Schumacher: “It will be crucial for us to stay in front.”

Mick Schumacher concluded his final qualifying session with the American Haas F1 Team on Saturday at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. After two seasons with the team, Schumacher will depart after Sunday’s race to make way for fellow German, Nico Hulkenberg, who will drive for Haas alongside Kevin Magnussen in 2023.

Schumacher qualified thirteenth for the last race of the season but has been bumped up to twelfth due to a three-place grid penalty for McLaren F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo after the Australian caused a collision with Magnussen in Brazil the previous weekend. The German driver propelled himself into Q2 after setting his best time on his second set of the Pirelli P Zero red soft tyres, setting a lap time of 1:25.711s, which Schumacher managed to improve on later in the evening with a faster time of 1:25.255s.

However, this time wasn’t enough to graduate to Q3 and Schumacher’s last qualifying session with the Hass team ended after Q2 as only the top ten moved on to Q3.

Despite his career as a Formula 1 driver being uncertain, Schumacher was happy with his performance and exceeded his own expectations after the driver was less than two-tenths away from making it into the top ten.

“Q1 didn’t look too bad and Q2 was ok, actually. We felt like we were in a good position and it was less than two-tenths to getting through to Q3 which was very unexpected to be this close. We’ll happily take it and move forward now to the race.

“We’re quite close to the points and we have AlphaTauri quite close as well so hopefully we’ll get them at the start, and we’ll be able to manage the race from there. It will be crucial for us to stay in front of them so that’s what we’ll focus on.”

Kevin Magnussen: “It seemed like we did take a step forward from FP2 to qualifying.”

Danish team-mate, Kevin Magnussen was too hopeful to make it to Q3 for the last race of the season but an unfortunate hold up of traffic in the last sector meant that the driver lost the momentum and heat in his tyres.

After making a considerable amount of progress and improving his performance from the earlier practice sessions, Magnussen was frustrated that he had to “start [his] lap on cold tires” after a 30-second delay prevented the driver from starting a lap around the circuit.

“It seemed like we did take a step forward from FP2 to qualifying, but the traffic at the end meant we had to stop in the last sector for close to half a minute before starting our lap, so that killed it and you start your lap on cold tires.”

Had the driver not had to stop in the final sector Magnussen would’ve had the opportunity to compete for a place in Q3, but the narrow margins between the results of qualifying mean that the door isn’t closed just yet for the Haas team as Magnussen thinks the strategy and tyre degradation will play a big part in Sunday’s race.

“It’s so tight that even one-tenth would’ve got me close to the top 10. That’s a bummer, that’s what we got right last week but today we didn’t manage to do the same. It’s very tight so I think it’s going to be more about tire management and strategy tomorrow.”