F1

Lewis Hamilton opens up on "difficult weekend" after returning to F1 action

Lewis Hamilton admitted it has been a "difficult weekend" as he was forced to settle for third on the starting grid after qualifying in Abu Dhabi.

Mercedes driver Hamilton, 35, returned to the paddock this week after missing last weekend's Sakhir Grand Prix with coronavirus.

But the reigning F1 champion was on the receiving end of a shock result in qualifying as Red Bull's Max Verstappen claimed pole position.

Verstappen edged out Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas in second and his triumph marks the first time a Mercedes driver has not been on pole this season – in the final race of the 2020 calendar.

Hamilton said he was struggling to find his "rhythm" but aims to "turn it around" as he assessed his display in qualifying.

"It has definitely been a difficult weekend in terms of getting back into the rhythm," said the Brit. "But I gave it my all and congratulations to Max.

"It is a great way for him to seal a year of good performances. Hopefully, we can give him a good run tomorrow.

"Of course, it is always nice to start first, but you cannot always do that, and that makes tomorrow exciting.

"The start is going to be important, and I am excited as to how I am going to turn it around."

Meanwhile, Verstappen was delighted to end Mercedes' dominance by clinching the final pole of the season.

"The whole season, behind behind and getting closer it's a bit frustrating. But very, very pleased with today," said the Dutchman.

He added: "Very happy with that. It was quite a tricky qualifying, there are so many corners where you can mistake but luckily everything came together on that final lap.

"It's a long season for everyone, with a lot of races in a row. I think this was a good final qualifying for everyone in the team and for sure we are very happy with that."

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