Bottas outqualifies Hamilton for Abu Dhabi pole

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

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.

Results

Pos.No.DriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
177Valtteri BottasMercedes AMG1:37.3561:36.8221:36.23118
244Lewis HamiltonMercedes AMG1:37.3911:36.7421:36.40319
35Sebastian VettelFerrari1:37.8171:37.0231:36.77718
43Daniel RicciardoRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:38.0161:37.5831:36.95916
57Kimi RäikkönenFerrari1:37.4531:37.3021:36.98517
633Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing TAG Heuer1:38.0211:37.7771:37.32819
727Nico HulkenbergRenault1:38.7811:38.1381:38.28214
811Sergio PerezForce India Mercedes1:38.6011:38.3591:38.37417
931Esteban OconForce India Mercedes1:38.8961:38.3921:38.39717
1019Felipe MassaWilliams Mercedes1:38.6291:38.5651:38.55018
1114Fernando AlonsoMcLaren Honda1:38.8201:38.636-12
1255Carlos SainzRenault1:38.8101:38.725-9
132Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren Honda1:38.7771:38.808-9
1420Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:39.3951:39.298-16
1518Lance StrollWilliams Mercedes1:39.5031:39.646-14
168Romain GrosjeanHaas Ferrari1:39.516--10
1710Pierre GaslyToro Rosso1:39.724--9
1894Pascal WehrleinSauber Ferrari1:39.930--9
199Marcus EricssonSauber Ferrari1:39.994--9
2028Brendon HartleyToro Rosso1:40.471--8