Lewis Hamilton secured the best spot to start Sunday's Abu Dhabi GP as he set the fastest time in qualifying today. The Mercedes driver was three tenths ahead of Championship leader Nico Rosberg. Daniel Ricciardo was best of the rest, but already half a second down on the second Mercedes.
As qualifying kicked off, lots of drivers were eager to go out on track, with all, except for the Williams car opting to use ultra softs.
Just 5 minutes later, Hamilton had set the fastest time with a single run, a whopping full second faster than Rosberg's lap. The German's lap wasn't all the impressive and led to Raikkonen, Vettel and Verstappen setting times faster than him. Still, it was easily enough to get through to the second part of qualifying.
The usual suspects were left to battle for the final positions to progress through into Q2, and it was Palmer and Wehrlein who just made it through in 15th and 16th. Daniil Kvyat ended up in 16th and got eliminated along with his team mate, both Sauber cars, Kevin Magnussen and Esteban Ocon.
In the second part, Mercedes and Ferrari were out first with all four drivers immediately setting times well within the range of making it into the top ten. Next up, and contrary to the earlier four cars, the Red Bulls opted for the super soft tyres to set their times, ensuring themselves of a longer first stint in Sunday's race.
It didn't prove much of a problem for Red Bull anyway, as the initial times of the cars behind them were all at least 3 tenths slower, with Hulkenberg an Perez coming closest.
Still, while both Force India's opted to gamble and not run a second time, Red Bull's Verstappen and Ricciardo did come out on ultra softs, but both men backed out of their laps in the final sector, making sure they didn't improve and maintainted the super soft tyres for the first stint in the race.
In the dying seconds, Massa improved to 9th and Alonso to 10th, demoting Bottas and Button out of the top 10. The latter said "oh, it's a shame, I just had a bit of understeer" when hearing he was 2 tenths short of making it into the top 10.
In the final shootout, Lewis Hamilton was the first to set a time. Nico Rosberg followed 10 seconds behind him. Rosberg had the upper hand in S1 after Hamilton made a slight mistake in turn 1, but the Brit clawed back and ended the lap more than three tenths faster than his championship rival.
Raikkonen was closest, at 3 tenths of Rosberg, nearly matched by Ricciardo in 4th, followed by Verstappen, Vettel, Hulkenberg and Perez. Alonso was considerably slower as he used old ultra softs on his first run whereas Massa waited in the garage , only to come out for a single flyer at the end.
On the second runs, Hamilton was again down in S1, but went purple in S2 and S3, keeping his advantage to Rosberg at 3 tenths after the latter improved as well.
Ricciardo marginally topped Raikkonen to take third on the grid, with Vettel 5th and Verstappen 6th fastest, rounding off a pack of 4 very closely matched drives.
Hulkenberg and Perez in 7th and 8th were also impressively closely matched. Fernando Alonso was a tenth quicker than Massa to take 9th as the Brazilian ended his last qualifying session in 10th.
|1||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||1:39.487||1:39.382||1:38.755||12|
|2||6||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG||1:40.511||1:39.490||1:39.058||12|
|3||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||1:41.002||1:40.429||1:39.589||17|
|6||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||1:40.424||1:39.903||1:39.818||13|
|7||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India Mercedes||1:41.000||1:40.709||1:40.501||12|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:40.864||1:40.743||1:40.519||12|
|9||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||1:41.616||1:41.044||1:41.106||17|
|10||19||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||1:41.157||1:40.858||1:41.213||15|
|11||77||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Mercedes||1:41.192||1:41.084||-||9|
|12||22||Jenson Button||McLaren Honda||1:41.158||1:41.272||-||14|
|13||21||Esteban Gutierrez||Haas Ferrari||1:41.639||1:41.480||-||16|
|14||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:41.467||1:41.564||-||15|
|16||94||Pascal Wehrlein||MRT Mercedes||1:41.886||1:41.995||-||14|
|17||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:42.003||-||-||9|
|19||12||Felipe Nasr||Sauber Ferrari||1:42.247||-||-||8|
|20||31||Esteban Ocon||MRT Mercedes||1:42.286||-||-||8|
|21||55||Carlos Sainz||Toro Rosso Ferrari||1:42.393||-||-||9|
|22||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:42.637||-||-||8|