The 2018 Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton scored his eleventh pole position in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver was fastest on both runs in the Q3 top ten shootout to take pole by 0.162 seconds from team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Although Bottas had a slight advantage in the middle sector and was up on his team-mate at the start of the final part of the lap, Hamilton was quicker in the first and third sectors to take P1.
Sebastian Vettel couldn’t improve by enough on his last run thanks to losing time in the final sector and admitted there was maybe half-a-tenth missing, which would not have been enough to get onto the front row.
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen jumped Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo for fourth position on the final runs despite the honey badger setting a stunning pace in the final sector – fastest of anyone.
Max Verstappen was sixth fastest after abandoning his final run having complained about the tyres being too hot when he left the pits.
Five of the top six will start on the ultrasofts Pirelli having used that compound to set their times in Q2, the exception being Verstappen.
The Red Bull driver wasn’t quick enough on his ultrasoft run in Q2 and reported struggling for grip on turn-in, meaning he had to use hypersofts for his second run to ensure he reached Q3.
Carlos Sainz was unable to make Q3 after being relegated to P11 by Verstappen’s late improvement on hypersofts in Q2.
He was a tenth-and-a-half faster than Ericsson, who beat Haas driver Kevin Magnussen to P12.
Force India driver Sergio Perez was P14, two tenths ahead of McLaren driver Fernando Alonso – who is making, for now, his final Formula 1 appearance.
Despite a P15, Alonso has achieved a remarkable qualifying result by out-qualifying his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in every Grand Prix. That’s 21 out of the 21 events. Incredible achievement in speed and commitment.
The Toro Rosso pairing of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly were fastest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 and P17.
They were shuffled back by improvements by Magnussen, Ericsson and Perez despite both improving on their final laps.
Hartley complained of a lack of entry stability compared, while Gasly suffered an engine problem at the end of his fastest qualifying lap and was ordered to stop on track after reporting smoke from the rear of the car.
Stoffel Vandoorne ended his final Formula 1 qualifying session before heading to Formula E in P18, just ahead of Williams pairing Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll – the duo separated by less than half-a-tenth.
So congratulations Mercedes in ending a wonderful championship-winning season with a front row lock-out. The sheer class by the W09 chassis is just magnificent and Lewis Hamilton admits this 2018 car will join the hall of fame of Silver Arrows achievements.
Qualifying positions, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.794s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m34.956s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m35.125s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m35.365s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1m35.401s
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Renault 1m35.589s
7 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1m36.192s
8 Charles Leclerc Sauber-Ferrari 1m36.237s
9 Esteban Ocon Force India-Mercedes 1m36.540s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m36.542s
11 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m36.982s
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1m37.132s
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m37.309s
14 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1m37.541s
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Renault 1m37.743s
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rossa-Honda 1m37.994s
17 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1m38.166s
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren-Renault 1m38.577s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams-Mercedes 1m38.635s
20 Lance Stroll Williams-Mercedes 1m38.682s