Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position for the final Grand Prix of the year, held at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabu.
Lewis Hamilton put in a 1:34.794 to claim his 83rd career pole position with his final qualifying run at Yas Marina. The Mercedes man had claimed provisional pole with his first run in Q3 but had made some minor errors which cost him time relative to the pack. On his second run, he eliminated those errors and went almost half a second quicker than his first run. This proved crucial, as there were late improvements from Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to bring them within that half second.
Bottas was forced to settle for P2, ending up 0.162 down on Hamilton’s time, while Vettel had to settle for P3 and 0.3 down on the pole position time.
Kimi Raikkonen made it an all Ferrari second row by claiming P4, a further 0.2 seconds down on Vettel’s time. It was a Red Bull Racing third row, with Daniel Ricciardo taking P5 in his final qualifying session with the team. This meant he starts ahead of Max Verstappen, who will be the first of the frontrunners to start the race on the HyperSoft tyre. While the top five all managed to get through Q2 on the UltraSoft, Verstappen was forced to run the HyperSoft to ensure he didn’t get eliminated. He finished the session just under 0.2 off Ricciardo’s time in Q3.
Behind the usual top three teams, Romain Grosjean was best of the rest as he claimed P7 for Haas after a tense battle with Sauber’s Charles Leclerc. The Monegasque, starting his final race with Sauber before heading to Ferrari to replace Kimi Raikkonen, was consistently fast throughout the qualifying hour and he wrapped up 0.3 clear of P9 Esteban Ocon’s Force India and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg in P10.
Renault’s Carlos Sainz took P11 in his final race with the team before heading to McLaren, outqualifying Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson by 0.2 in his last qualifying before heading off to IndyCar. Kevin Magnussen was P13 for Haas, clear of Force India’s Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso’s McLaren. Alonso, who leaves Formula 1 after this race, made it through Q1 after a last gasp lap moved him up to P14 but he couldn’t keep up with the increase of pace in Q2 and was forced to settle for P15.
It was a bad session for Toro Rosso. Both Brendon Hartley & Pierre Gasly were eliminated in Q1, with Gasly forced to pull over to the side of the track at Turn 2 after the chequered flag with an apparent loss of power. He may have made it through into Q2 without the problem, which made him slow down going through the final corner of his last flying lap. Stoffel Vandoorne claimed P18 in his final race with McLaren before heading off to Formula E, ahead of the Williams duo of Sergey Sirotkin & Lance Stroll.