Bottas grabs Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pole from Hamilton

Valtteri Bottas scored his fourth career pole position, beating his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to the top spot at the Yas Marina circuit.

It seems Hamilton was the favourite for the top spot after leading the way throughout free practice, and was fastest in Q2 as well, but Bottas was fractionally quicker than Hamilton in Q1 and got back ahead during the first runs in Q3, taking provisional pole with a one minute, 36.231 seconds lap.

That proved enough for top spot when neither Mercedes driver found time on their second runs, Hamilton falling short by 0.172 seconds.

Sebastian Vettel was third fastest in the best of the Ferraris, improving to a one minute, 36.777 seconds best on his final Q3 run but ending up almost four tenths down on the Mercedes pair.

Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was provisionally fourth quickest until a last-gasp effort from Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull displaced Raikkonen from the second row by just 0.026 seconds.

Max Verstappen rounded out the top six, 0.353 seconds down on Raikkonen.

Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault was best of the rest in seventh, less than a tenth clear of Sergio Perez, who in turn was only 0.023 seconds clear of team-mate Esteban Ocon.

Ocon was compromised by battling for track position with Bottas on their final Q3 out-lap.

Felipe Massa’s Williams completed the top ten, 0.153s further back after only completing one run in Q3.

Massa was one of only six drivers to find time on his second run in Q2, which proved enough to bump his old Ferrari colleague Fernando Alonso out of the top ten by 0.071 seconds.

Carlos Sainz Jr was another of those to find time after a “poor out-lap” ruined his first run. He got his Renault up to P12 ahead of the second McLaren-Honda of Stoffel Vandoorne, despite suffering a problem with his engine at the last corner.

Kevin Magnussen was P14 for Haas, almost half a second adrift of Vandoorne but well clear of Lance Stroll, who could not lap faster than one minute, 39.6 seconds however hard he tried.

Stroll at least made Q2 for the eighth time this season, his passage from Q1 coming at the expense of Romain Grosjean, whose Haas missed the cut by just 0.013 seconds as Stroll pulled the first of those one minute, 39.6 seconds laps out of the bag at the end.

“Oh God that was everything!” said Stroll over the radio upon learning he’d made the top 15.

Pierre Gasly put the best of the Toro Rossos P17, two tenths slower than Grosjean and two tenths clear of Sauber pair Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, who were separated by just six hundredths of a second.

Brendon Hartley qualified slowest of all by some distance in the Toro Rosso. Porsche’s World Endurance champion delivered a “scruffy” first lap, improved on his second run, but finished the session nearly half a second down on Ericsson.

Qualifying last negates Hartley’s grid penalty for taking a ninth MGU-H on his Renault engine ahead of practice.

So a fantastic way to sign off Mercedes’ qualifying result this season. 15 poles and another front row slot. It’s going to be a fascinating race at Yas Marina with the fight for the runner up spot between Bottas and Vettel.

Qualifying positions, Yas Marina:

1    Valtteri Bottas    Mercedes    1m36.231s
2    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m36.403s
3    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m36.777s
4    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m36.959s
5    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m36.985s
6    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m37.328s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Renault    1m38.282s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m38.374s
9    Esteban Ocon    Force India-Mercedes    1m38.397s
10    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m38.550s
11    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m38.636s
12    Carlos Sainz    Renault    1m38.725s
13    Stoffel Vandoorne    McLaren-Honda    1m38.808s
14    Kevin Magnussen    Haas-Ferrari    1m39.298s
15    Lance Stroll    Williams-Mercedes    1m39.646s
16    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m39.516s
17    Pierre Gasly    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m39.724s
18    Pascal Wehrlein    Sauber-Ferrari    1m39.930s
19    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m39.994s
20    Brendon Hartley    Toro Rosso-Renault    1m40.471s

4 thoughts to “Bottas grabs Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pole from Hamilton”

  1. Abu Dhabi qualifying review as reported by

    The Mercedes drivers staged a fantastic scrap for the final qualifying honours of the season in Abu Dhabi on Saturday evening, with Valtteri Bottas upstaging world champion team mate Lewis Hamilton to take his fourth career pole by 0.172s, as Ferrari and Red Bull were left in the silver cars’ wake.

    The former’s Sebastian Vettel and the latter’s Daniel Ricciardo will fill the second row of the grid for tomorrow’s season finale at Yas Marina, with respective team mates Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen starting fifth and sixth.

    Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg got the better of Force India duo Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon for seventh, while Williams’ Felipe Massa completed the top ten in his final F1 qualifying appearance.

    Q1 saw Bottas and Hamilton immediately tussling over fastest time, with the Finn just shading his team mate with 1m 37.356s, the fastest time thus far this weekend, to 1m 37.391s. Once again, Raikkonen outpaced Vettel, 1m 37.453s to 1m 37.817s. The Red Bulls were a bit breathless in this company, with Ricciardo on 1m 38.016s and Verstappen on 1m 38.021s. Everyone used the ultrasoft Pirelli tyres.

    Further back, Lance Stroll just made Q2 for Williams, leaving an angry Romain Grosjean 16th on 1m 39.516s in the second Haas, ahead of Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso on 1m 39.724s, Pascal Wehrlein’s Sauber on 1m 39.930s, team mate Marcus Ericsson on 1m 39.994s, and Brendon Hartley in the Toro Rosso on 1m 40.471s.

    Hamilton took the advantage back in Q2 with a new weekend fastest time of 1m 36.742s, with Bottas riding shotgun on 1m 36.822s and Vettel getting closer on 1m 37.034s ahead of Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Verstappen.

    To his great satisfaction, Massa edged out old Ferrari partner Fernando Alonso to get into Q3, leaving the Spaniard the first faller after he failed to improve on 1m 38.636s. Team mate Stoffel Vandoorne didn’t go any quicker either, so ended up 13th on 1m 38.808s, but the McLarens were split by Carlos Sainz’s Renault on 1m 38.725s.

    Kevin Magnussen hauled his Haas round in 1m 39.298s for 14th, as Stroll took 15th on 1m 39.646s.

    Bottas went back in front after the first runs in Q3 with 1m 36.231s to 1m 36.403s, with Vettel on 1m 36.859s from Raikkonen on 1m 36.985s. Red Bull were well off that pace, with Verstappen on 1m 37.696s and Ricciardo on 1m 37.716s. Hulkenberg headed the Force India boys, with Ocon ahead of Perez, and Massa.

    Neither Mercedes driver improved on their second tries, so Bottas had pole from Hamilton. Vettel improved slightly without changing position, while an heroic lap from Ricciardo took him to fourth with 1m 36.959s ahead of Raikkonen, who also didn’t go faster.

    Verstappen stayed sixth despite improving to 1m 37.328s, while Hulkenberg kept his Renault ahead of the Force Indias without improving. Perez jumped Ocon, with 1m 38.374s to 1m 38.397s, as Massa took an honourable 10th in 1m 38.550s for his final Grand Prix.

    Thus, with Brendon Hartley’s 10 place grid penalty (for a new MGU-H on his Toro Rosso) applied, the provisional grid will line up: Bottas, Hamilton; Vettel, Ricciardo; Raikkonen, Verstappen; Hulkenberg, Perez; Ocon, Massa; Alonso, Sainz; Vandoorne, Magnussen; Stroll, Grosjean; Gasly, Wehrlein; Ericsson, Hartley.

  2. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo says he will take the fight to Ferrari for a podium finish in the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Ricciardo, who is seven points ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in fourth place in the F1 drivers’ standings, outqualified the Finn in the dying seconds on Saturday. He will start the race fourth, alongside Sebastian Vettel on row two.

    “I was happy with that,” said Ricciardo. “I thought we had the pace [for the second row] and I would have been disappointed if we couldn’t show it. I really thought if I put a good lap together we could sneak ahead of at least one Ferrari.

    “Seb had a bit too much, but I was happy to get Kimi. Nice way to close out the year, hasn’t been the perfect year in terms of qualifying, in terms of what I expect from myself, but it was nice to finish with a good lap.”

    Ricciardo admitted that Red Bull’s race simulations weren’t as strong as his immediate rivals’, but believes a podium finish is a realistic target given his track position at the start.

    “It’s certainly an opportunity, we’re close,” he added. “All I need is a good start and then we’re there.

    “Yesterday our long runs weren’t as good as Mercedes or Ferrari, we’re certainly a few tenths off, but we made a few little changes overnight which I think helped.

    “As the track improves, by tomorrow it should come to us. I’m certainly keen to get my elbows out and try to fight for the podium.”

    In contrast, teammate Max Verstappen rued a lack of pace which restricted him to qualifying sixth, over a second off pole position.

    “We just clearly didn’t have the pace, for me it was a really difficult qualifying,” said Verstappen.

    “Straight away when I went out I didn’t have a good balance in the car. Tried to make the best of it, but it clearly wasn’t enough.

    “When you are chasing the car balance all the time you never really have a comfortable feeling, which was our problem today. For sure, it won’t be an easy race.”


  3. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen blames inconsistent tyres for lack of pace in qualifying. has the news story.

    Kimi Raikkonen says he could not use the full performance of his Ferrari Formula 1 car in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying due to inconsistent tyre behaviour.

    Raikkonen will start the F1 season finale only fifth, having qualified seven tenths of a second away from polesitter Valtteri Bottas’s Mercedes.

    The sister Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel was over half a second off the pace in third, with Daniel Ricciardo getting ahead of Raikkonen for fourth in the final moments of qualifying.

    “I think the car was very good but it was tricky to make the tyres work consistently,” said Raikkonen.

    “It was a good feeling with the car but the tyres were some corners very good and then a bit too snappy and hard to make them work well.”

    Asked where in particular the tyres had been a problem, Raikkonen replied: “It gave good grip but it just snapped a little bit and there was oversteer on the last lap and oversteer in [Turn] 11 on the exit that compromised the next few corners.

    “I felt there was a lot of speed but I couldn’t really use it.”

    Vettel said he had struggled with the complex leading onto the back straight, but believes Ferrari will be quicker in the race.

    “I was fighting a bit in qualifying with the sequence of [Turns] 5/6/7, but overall we are happy with the car around the lap,” he said. “A bit of a shame to be that far back.

    “Tomorrow we have good pace so should be closer. It should be a good race, overtaking is not straightforward but it’s not impossible. Let’s see.”

  4. The fight for sixth place in the constructors’ championship for Scuderia Toro Rosso is going to be “really stressed” following a difficult qualifying session. has the details.

    Pierre Gasly says his Toro Rosso team is “really stressed” about losing sixth place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship, as it can only “pray” for a favourable Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a poor qualifying.

    Toro Rosso is four and six points ahead of Renault and Haas respectively in the teams’ standings heading into the season finale at the Yas Marina circuit, and dropping down the order would cost the Italian outfit millions in revenue.

    Gasly led the way for Toro Rosso in Abu Dhabi qualifying but only managed 17th at a track where he’s excelled in his junior career – whereas Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg placed as high as seventh.

    Gasly said: “I think today was good, compared to Brendan [Hartley], I managed to do a good lap so this is the only positive, but that’s not the target.

    “This weekend we need to keep the sixth position and at the moment it’s out of our hands, really, because we don’t have the pace to fight.

    “It’s a bit annoying to look at things without being able to really have an impact on it.”

    Should the relevant teams’ cars finish where they start on Sunday, Hulkenberg’s seventh place would be enough to swing the fight for sixth in Renault’s favour – and Gasly, who in addition has reliability worries due to running “an old MGU-H”, admitted Toro Rosso’s hopes relied on other midfield teams.

    “Hopefully the Force India will be fast enough. I think at the moment the only thing we can do is to pray tomorrow morning for Hulkenberg to finish eighth,” he said.

    “At the moment I see Franz [Tost] is really stressed, as much as we are, because in the end if we want to be competitive next year, it’s really important to keep this sixth position, because it’ll have an impact on the development.

    “It’s a bit frustrating not to be a bit further on the grid, to be fighting properly – starting from 17th, it’s difficult to do something, but for sure we’ll try everything.”

    Teammate Hartley said he was disappointed with his own performance in qualifying on top of Toro Rosso’s struggles, as the Kiwi trailed Gasly by three quarters of a second.

    “We didn’t have a lot to lose so we’ve been also throwing a lot of changes at the car, because we knew we had a 10-place grid penalty, so we’ve been desperate to find some performance somewhere,” Hartley said.

    “Didn’t work out in qualifying, I didn’t get a lap together at all. A bit disappointed personally, I didn’t do a good job.”

    Explaining the STR12’s weak Yas Marina performance, Gasly said: “In terms of downforce we are not where we would like to be. And we’re not competitive in the corners, and neither in the straights.

    “There are many areas we need to improve, but when you put this problem, plus this one, plus this one, at the end the gap is pretty big, so it’s tough.”

    Hartley, who also joined the outfit mid-season, echoed Gasly’s sentiments.

    “The truth is, I don’t know, we seem to be lacking pace everywhere. The long run, we’re in the mix with the Haas and the Sauber… but points I think are going to be a tough ask.”

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