The six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton signs off the 2019 Formula 1 season with an important pole position at the Yas Marina circuit.
The Mercedes driver was fastest on the first runs in Q3 with a time of one minute, 34.828 seconds. Hamilton then shaved a few hundredths off that time on the final run to post a one minute, 34.779 seconds to claim his grid position at the top of the timesheets.
Teammate Valtteri Bottas was second fastest, 0.194 seconds slower, but has to serve a back-of-the-grid penalty for power unit changes.
This means Max Verstappen will start in second position having set the third fastest time, 0.360 seconds off the pace.
Charles Leclerc won the intra-Ferrari battle by beating Sebastian Vettel to fourth position despite not reaching the line in time to start his final lap.
He complained of his teammate’s slowing ahead, although Vettel himself was being backed up as drivers prepared for their final quick laps.
But Vettel did not improve on his final lap, ending up 0.560 seconds off pole.
Alex Albon was sixth fastest for Red Bull, nine tenths off the pace.
All of the fastest six qualifiers will start on medium-compound Pirellis, except for Vettel, who used softs to post his fastest Q2 time.
Lando Norris won the midfield battle with seventh-fastest time, beating Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo by just two-hundredths.
In addition, Norris won a heated qualifying battle against his McLaren teammate. In the end, the Formula 1 rookie beat Carlos Sainz Jr. by 11-10.
Carlos Sainz Jr. was a further 0.003 seconds down in ninth position, with the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg a distant tenth.
Racing Point’s Sergio Perez was eliminated at the last moment in Q2 by Nico Hulkenberg’s late improvement after being pushed down to P11 – although Bottas’s penalty means he will start P10.
Pierre Gasly ended up P12 having briefly dipped into the top ten on his final run before being relegated by Norris and Hulkenberg.
Lance Stroll took the second Racing Pint to P13, 0.038 seconds faster than the Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat.
Haas driver Kevin Magnussen was P15, over a tenth slower than Kvyat – who is being investigated by the race stewards for a potential unsafe release during Q1.
Romain Grosjean was quickest of those eliminated in Q1 in P16 after being put into the elimination zone by Stroll at the end of the session.
Grosjean was vulnerable thanks to a poor first sector on his final lap, although he was still 0.341 seconds away from reaching Q2, apologising to the team over the radio for something going wrong on the lap.
Alfa Romeo duo Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen were P17 and P18, with both briefly lifting themselves out of the bottom five in the final flurry of laps before being shuffled back.
George Russell made sure of a clean sweep of Williams teammate Robert Kubica by taking P19, just over half-a-second ahead.
Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with this pole position. It’s been a while since the champion last started out front – Germany – so it’s nice to see the Mercedes driver back in the winner’s circle.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, qualifying positions:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.779
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:35.139
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:35.219
4 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:35.339
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:35.682
6 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:36.436
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:36.456
8 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:36.459
9 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:36.710
10 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes 1:37.055
11 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso-Honda 1:37.089
12 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:37.103
13 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Honda 1:37.141
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:37.254
15 Romain Grosjean Haas-Ferrari 1:38.051
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:38.114
17 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:38.383
18 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:38.717
19 Robert Kubica Williams-Mercedes 1:39.236
20 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34.973*
*Grid penalties following power unit changes