Finnish Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, outperforming Lewis Hamilton narrowly. Mercedes were unbeatable, and enjoyed an advantage of 3 to 4 tenths to nearest competitor Sebastian Vettel.
As the session got started, several teams only just managed to finish some furious work the cars. Ferrari for instance were extremely busy on Raikkonen's car until the very start of the session.
Pierre Gasly for Toro Rosso was the first to set a timed lap, soon bettered by Wehrlein and then Magnussen.
When the big guns arrived out on track, Raikkonen was immediately faster than Vettel, as he has been for most of the weekend. Most front runners required two laps on the ultra softs to set their best times, and when Bottas completes his second lap, he was fastest to stay there in Q1. Lewis Hamilton aborted a second flying lap, but he looked comfortable enough at the time to make it through safely.
Max Verstappen was in a similar situation, and seemed good enough to get through, but the Dutchman went out for another attempt in Q1. The Red Bull driver had struggled with his car in FP3 and may be looking for another lap to verify set-up changes.
As Q1 came to a close, Romain Grosjean just dropped out to 16th, due to a late improvement from Lance Stroll. The Canadian was relieved and reports "Oh god, that was everything", while Felipe Massa was a full second faster.
Q2 saw Mercedes again in front, albeit this time with Hamilton a tenth ahead of his team mate. Vettel meanwhile took over for Ferrari and ended up being the closest competitor to the Mercedes in front.
For Raikkonen it was a complicated session, with a reported vibration on his first set of tyres. The next attempt closer towards the end of the session was another unfortunate one, as the Finn blamed a traffic for ruining his flyer: "The f****** Force India, in the most stupid place".
In the closing stages, numerous drivers were of course out again, with Alonso being the first to cross the finish line. The Spaniard failed to improve and remained 10th, only to get eliminated by Massa as he found another few tenths on his final F1 qualifying of his career. The Brazilian jumped to 10th, dropping Alonso out, along with Sainz, Vandoorne, Magnussen and Stroll. Once again, that saw Massa go 1.1s faster than his Canadian team mate.
In Q3, Raikkonen was again out early, becoming the first to set a flying lap. Bottas was up next, and he went faster straight away, going around in 1:36.231. Hamilton did have no answer to his team mate's pace and ended up 2 tenths down. Still, that was second fastest, as other were at least half a second down.
On the second attempt, Bottas failed to improve, and the loss in S2 made him pit before he even completed his effort. Lewis Hamilton similarly lost too much in the second sector, and with nobody else becoming a threat for pole, Bottas rounds off the final qualifying of the season with a 4th pole position, and the second in a row.
|1||77||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG||1:37.356||1:36.822||1:36.231||18|
|2||44||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG||1:37.391||1:36.742||1:36.403||19|
|4||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||1:38.016||1:37.583||1:36.959||16|
|6||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer||1:38.021||1:37.777||1:37.328||19|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||Force India Mercedes||1:38.601||1:38.359||1:38.374||17|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India Mercedes||1:38.896||1:38.392||1:38.397||17|
|10||19||Felipe Massa||Williams Mercedes||1:38.629||1:38.565||1:38.550||18|
|11||14||Fernando Alonso||McLaren Honda||1:38.820||1:38.636||-||12|
|13||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren Honda||1:38.777||1:38.808||-||9|
|14||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas Ferrari||1:39.395||1:39.298||-||16|
|15||18||Lance Stroll||Williams Mercedes||1:39.503||1:39.646||-||14|
|16||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas Ferrari||1:39.516||-||-||10|
|17||10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1:39.724||-||-||9|
|18||94||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber Ferrari||1:39.930||-||-||9|
|19||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber Ferrari||1:39.994||-||-||9|
|20||28||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||1:40.471||-||-||8|