Hamilton signs off season with pole position at Yas Marina

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

5 thoughts to “Hamilton signs off season with pole position at Yas Marina”

  1. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    With no championships to play for in the final weekend of the season in Abu Dhabi, Sunday’s Grand Prix is set to be a straight up pride fight for victory. And the driver who put himself in the best possible position for that fight in Saturday’s qualifying session was Lewis Hamilton, who took pole position at Yas Marina with a new track record of 1m 34.794s, ahead of his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas.

    In a momentous day for the Silver Arrows, Mercedes became the first team in F1 history to take five consecutive front row lock-outs at any track, while it was Hamilton’s 11th pole position of 2018.

    Behind the two Mercedes came the pair of Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, who continued the Scuderia’s run of having never appeared on the front row at Yas Marina since the race was introduced in 2009. Then came the paired up Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, the team having already predicted that they were likely to play third best in qualifying, but more hopeful for a strong performance in the race, with analysis of Friday’s long-run pace data suggesting that their car is the fastest in race trim.

    Haas’ Romain Grosjean claimed the final ‘best of the rest’ placing of the season – denying Nico Hulkenberg the chance to claim his fourth consecutive appearance in seventh place on the grid in Abu Dhabi – while the similarly Ferrari-engined Sauber of Charles Leclerc was eighth. Esteban Ocon was ninth for Force India, while Hulkenberg ended up 10th.

    Appearing in what could be his final ever qualifying session, Fernando Alonso was P15 for McLaren.

    Vettel was the first driver this weekend to get down into the 1m 36s bracket, punching in a 1m 36.949s early doors in Q1 before improving that to a 1m 36.775s to take P1 in the segment, the Ferraris appearing to finally reveal their true pace this weekend having seemingly sandbagged in the free practice sessions.

    Vettel was ahead of the two Mercedes of Bottas and Hamilton, but with both of the Silver Arrows within a tenth of the German’s time.

    Ocon impressed to go P4 ahead of the second Ferrari of Raikkonen, while there was a cheer around Yas Marina after a superb final effort from Alonso saw him drag his McLaren into P14 – and into Q2 in his final F1 qualifying session.

    The drivers having the earliest baths in qualifying were the two of Toro Rossos of Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly – with Gasly pulling up and abandoning his car after his final lap after smoke was seen emanating out of the back of the STR13 as he crossed the line – the McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne and the two Williams cars of Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll at the back of the field.

    A stunning lap on the supposedly slower ultrasoft tyres from Lewis Hamilton saw him breeze through Q2 with a 1m 35.693s, 0.451s ahead of the Red Bull Verstappen in second, the Dutchman through on the faster hypersoft rubber. That will give Hamilton a tactical advantage in the race, while it’s an advantage that his rival Vettel will share too, the Ferrari man opting to run on the purple-walled rubber as well.

    Ricciardo, too, will start Sunday’s race on the ultrasofts. The Australian was circulating in 10th place on the hypersofts at the end of the session and nearly improved his lap with them on before his engineer smartly told him to abort. He squeaked through by just 0.018s.

    Out in Q2 went the Renault of Carlos Sainz, the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson, the Haas of Kevin Magnussen and the Force India of Sergio Perez – all four drivers having to watch on as their team mates progressed into the final segment of qualifying, while there was to be no fairy-tale Q3 appearance for Alonso, as the Spaniard went out in P15.

    Hamilton is already comfortably on top of the all-time pole positon list – but would he be bothered enough to try and add another one to the tally without the incentive of a drivers’ or constructors’ championship to play for? You bet he would.

    The first runs in Q3 saw Hamilton shading Vettel by just 0.057s at the top of the time sheets, and that with a scrappy lap where his Mercedes W09 had looked a touch flighty around the Abu Dhabi track.

    As the drivers all headed back out into the cooler evening air to try again, Hamilton’s car suddenly looked dialled in, the Briton appearing to be low-level flying as he monstered to a 1m 34.794s, 1.437s quicker than the previous lap record set by Bottas last year to claim pole number 11 for the season, and number 83 of his career.

    Bottas couldn’t match that Hamilton magic, but did well to go P2, just 0.162s off his team mate’s pace, while a final effort from Vettel wasn’t enough to maintain his place on the front row, as he slipped to P3, after a poor final sector, behind Bottas, but ahead of team mate Raikkonen.

    Red Bull won’t have minded being P5 and P6 too much, the team having never had much luck at Yas Marina in the post-2014 hybrid era but appearing to be strong on race pace, while Grosjean and Leclerc’s closely matched times in P7 and P8 demonstrated the strength of the Ferrari power unit in the midfield battle.

    Haas need to have the best weekend of their short existence in Abu Dhabi if they’re to overcome the 24-point deficit to Renault for fourth place in the constructors’ championship. That being the case, Renault will doubtless not be too miffed that their drivers finished 10th and 11th in qualifying, both Hulkenberg and Sainz just needing to keep Haas in their sights to ensure Renault take that prized P4.

    So another race weekend, another pole positon for Lewis Hamilton. And as if he hadn’t demoralised his rivals enough this season by taking his fifth world title in the face of the toughest opposition Mercedes have had to deal with since 2014, the Briton now looks poised to dish out a final piece of pain in 2018 before F1 heads into its winter hibernation.

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says “killer” final sector got him pole position at the Yas Marina circuit. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton believes the final part of his Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pole position lap was the “killer” that meant he topped the final qualifying of the Formula 1 season.

    Hamilton overcame a deficit to Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas after the first two sectors of the lap to improve on his personal best by four tenths of a second and clinch pole by 0.162s.

    “The first lap wasn’t spectacular, there were a couple of excursions and movement at the rear end,” said Hamilton.

    “The last one started off quite calm and got more and more aggressive as I went through it. The last sector was the killer for me and that is where I really was able to make the difference.

    “I came out four tenths up. That is not easy to do from one lap to another, so I am truly grateful for that.”

    Hamilton’s pole is his 11th of the season Bottas admitted his teammate had put together “quite a nice lap”.

    However, Bottas also said he had his own setbacks.

    “He just got a more complete lap in the end,” said Bottas.

    “I think what hurt me is there were a couple of runs I didn’t get the best out of it, like the ultrasoft run in Q2, and I struggled with some things on the car.”

    Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will start third having been overhauled by Bottas on the second runs.

    Vettel was provisionally second on the grid having initially lapped just 0.057s slower than Hamilton.

    “Qualifying has been a bit up and down,” said Vettel. “We tried everything and gave it everything we had, which after the first run didn’t look stupid at all.

    “It was very close, half a tenth, which I felt was within reach. The second run I crossed the line, I was quite happy with my lap, but it wasn’t enough.

    “I dropped back to third, so I guess their first run was not as strong as ours.”

  3. McLaren’s Fernando “Shy” Alonso “embarrassed” by Formula 1 farewell tributes. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Fernando Alonso says he would like to be “invisible” until after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as he admits he is not a big fan of all the tributes ahead of his final Formula 1 race.

    The two-time world champion is racing in F1 for the last time this weekend – for the time being at least – after having announced his decision to leave the sport earlier this year.

    Plans to pay tribute to the Spaniard have included a special car livery, overalls and a new helmet design.

    A farewell photo with all McLaren team members wearing commemorative T-shirts is scheduled for Sunday before the race and the team will also form a guard of honour for when Alonso goes into the garage for the race.

    Formula 1 has arranged a farewell party in the Abu Dhabi paddock on Saturday evening and Alonso admitted he wants it all to end quickly.

    “All these tributes are a bit embarrassing for me. I’m shier than people think and I want it go by quickly,” said Alonso.

    “I would like to be invisible until Monday, but I’ll have to be here and talk a bit.”

    Alonso qualified in 15th position for his final Formula 1 grand prix, later admitting that he did not expect to be able to make it to Q2.

    The result meant the Spaniard has outqualified teammate Stoffel Vandoorne in all 21 qualifying sessions this season.

    “We knew that Q1 would be difficult so we decided to use three sets of tyres to try and it worked out,” Alonso said. “We made it out of Q1, which was a surprise and not in our plans.

    “The lap was good and I’m happy to have driven on the limit again to round out a perfect year in terms of qualifying: 21-0 with the same car, I think no one else did that and I’m happy to have that at least.”

    The McLaren driver admitted he will need the cars in front of him to hit trouble in order to score points in his farewell race given the pace of his car.

    “I think that in order to be in the points we’ll need help from the people in front of us,” he added.

    “In terms of performance we are not fast enough but things can always happen here so we’ll try to stay away from the incidents and take advantage of it.”

  4. McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne says he felt “quite relieved” following his final Formula 1 qualifying session in Abu Dhabi after what has been a disappointing season for the Belgian driver.

    Vandoorne qualified 18th for his final F1 race before he joins the HWA squad in Formula E, a result that means he has been outqualified at every race in 2018 by McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso.

    The 26-year-old described his final F1 qualifying of the year as “great” before expressing his relief at getting to the end of the campaign.

    “[I’m] quite relieved, to be honest, we’ve not been in really good shape all season long,” said Vandoorne.

    “But I had a lot of fun out there today and I think tomorrow, one final race to go and I’m just going to the try and make the most of it

    “I had a lot of fun, and that’s what matters. This car is still nice to drive even though when you look at the classification it’s difficult to enjoy.

    “But I had fun, I tried to do the best. Tomorrow we have one more race to go, which I’m just going to enjoy as much as I can.

    “On the other side, I’m looking forward to seeing the chequered flag and to start a new chapter [in FE].”

    When asked how he was feeling ahead of his final race for McLaren – where he has been part of the team since joining its junior programme in 2013 – Vandoorne explained that he was feeling “mixed emotions”.

    “It’s sad to leave so many people I’ve been working very closely with,” he continued. “But on the other side I’m quite excited for the future.

    “To start working in a new environment, a new team, new people as well – it’ll be something completely different but I’m looking forward to it.”

    Vandoorne’s FE career with HWA gets underway at the Ad Diriyah E-Prix next month.

    Source: Motorsport.com

  5. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen wants answers after tyre temperature confusion which affected his qualifying. Motorsport.com has the story.

    Max Verstappen says Red Bull is looking into the tyre-temperature confusion that impacted his final run in qualifying for Formula 1’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Verstappen and his team disagreed on the temperature of his hypersoft Pirellis in the last moments of Q3, with Verstappen complaining that they were too hot and Red Bull saying they were in the window.

    The result was Verstappen failing to get ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo and having to settle for sixth on the grid.

    “We will look into why they were a bit warmer because I didn’t understand why,” said Verstappen.

    “We did a lot to get them colder. The problems is, on this, track the temperatures are so important that on the out-lap we are all going so slow.

    “If they are too hot already, you can’t cool them down that much. So, when you start hot, you know it’s already going to be worse with the tyres for the last sector.”

    Verstappen explained that he had already felt the tyre temperatures were too high for the first run so was surprised they were even higher.

    He said having to be so aggressive in trying to cool them down meant that “at one point you can’t heat up your brakes like you want to into Turn 1, so it all got a bit compromised”.

    Verstappen added that further frustration over the team radio was just a “natural reaction” to a scruffy final effort.

    “I lost the car, went off, so I was just disappointed I couldn’t finish that lap,” said Verstappen.

    “It was just not our qualifying, I could feel it straight away that it was sliding too much, and of course you keep on trying, trying, it’s not working, not working.

    “Then, I went off and said ‘ah, fuck sake’, and all of that.”

    Red Bull’s attempt to get through Q2 using only the ultrasoft tyre did not pay off for Verstappen, who had to set a time on hypersofts to progress and is the only driver in the top six starting on that higher-degradation compound.

    However, he said he does not “see it as a negative”.

    “They will be worried I will start undercutting them,” said Verstappen. “So, yeah, maybe it’s nice in a way that we are different. We have two cars on different tyres, so we can do different things.

    “I was quite alright on the hypers on the long runs [in Friday practice], so we’ll just have to wait and see what’s going to happen tomorrow. But so far I don’t have too much of an issue.

    “The ultra is also not an amazing tyre to drive on. They will have to manage, it’s not as if they can go flat out.”

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