Hamilton Takes 11th pole of Season in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates—R.I.S.—Lewis Hamilton proved Saturday evening that even after a slow beginning, he can still become the king of qualifying as the Briton clocked a track lap record of 1:34:794 to take his 11th pole of the season, for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina circuit, ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in third.
For the Mercedes team, it is their fifth consecutive front row lockout in a row at this circuit, and the 57th since the hybrid turbo era began five years ago. But for Hamilton, it was an emotional moment.
“It was quite an emotional qualifying session for me because this is the last time I am going to be qualifying in this car.” Hamilton said. “I know you guys watch it but the emotional rollercoaster that I’ve gone through with this car – I’m probably the closest with this car than I have ever been with any cars in terms of emotionally attached.”
Hamilton really had no competition on the track that could get close to him, as his Ferrari rivals could only improve early in the first session and drop down as the evening went on. Pierre Gasly lost power in the opening period as his Toro Rosso-Honda failed to advance following round one. As Stoffel Vandoorne looks forward to formula E next season, the Belgian goes into tomorrows final race being outqualified by his teammate Fernando Alonso, also in his final grand prix, all season long. For Alonso himself, his final qualifying experience ended in the second session,and will start Sunday’s race in 15th position.
Kimi Raikkonen finished fourth in his final race for Ferrari, while Red Bulls Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen took fifth and sixth, respectively. Romain Grosjean was the best finisher for the American Haas F1 Team in seventh, and Charles Le Clerc, who will take Raikkonen’s spot as Ferrari taking eighth. Esteban Ocon, another driver leaving F1 next season for the time being, finished ninth, and Nico Hulkenberg took the last top ten position for Renault. For the other Haas F1 car driven by Kevin Magnussen, the Dane could only finish 13th and was eliminated in the second session with a water leak problem.
Although to many, Hamilton seemed to easily cruise to pole and race wins this year. But Hamilton does not see it that way.
“It has not been the easiest,” Hamilton continued, “It has been a struggle at times with her (meaning the car) but it has been a real privilege to work with her this year.”
ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX
At Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Final Qualifying Results
1 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes—1:34:794
2 Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes
3 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Ferrari
4 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari
5 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing
6 Max Verstappen (FRA) Red Bull Racing
7 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team
8 Charles LeClerc (MON) Sauber
9 Esteban Ocon (FRA) Force India
10 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault
11 Carlos Sainz Jr. (SPA) Renault
12 Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber
13 Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team
14 Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India
15 Fernando Alonso (SPA) McLaren
16 Brendon Hartley (NZL) Toro Rosso
17 Pierre Gasly (FRA) Toro Rosso
18 Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren
19 Sergey Sirotkin (RUS) Williams
20 Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams
A 16 year veteran of writing formula one racing weekend race reports, features and team launches, Mark has worked for such companies as all-sports, e-sports, The Munich Eye newspaper in Germany, racingnation.com and Autoweek. A former member for this site four years ago, Mark now is a contributor for R.I.S.