Hamilton signs off 2019 qualifying with pole position


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

4 thoughts to “Hamilton signs off 2019 qualifying with pole position”

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

    World champion Lewis Hamilton may have struggled to find a rhythm on Friday, but he danced his Mercedes to an impressive tune around the turns of Yas Island in qualifying to take an impressive pole position for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – but there was yet more drama for Ferrari.

    The title may already be tucked in his pocket, but Hamilton has refused to take his foot off the gas. Bouncing back from an unusual off-day on Friday, Hamilton turned on the pace in final practice and got the job done in qualifying, ending a pole-less streak dating back to Germany in July in the process.

    Pole was Hamilton’s 88th of his career, leaving him 20 clear of Michael Schumacher in the all-time list. It was also his 10th front row start at Yas Marina, tying the record for most front rows at any venue.

    Valtteri Bottas improved on his second run to sneak into second, but he’ll be starting from the back of the pack having changed a series of engine components to trigger grid penalties. That’ll promote Brazilian GP winner Max Verstappen, who had never previously outqualified a team mate in Abu Dhabi, to the front row after the Dutchman ended up third.

    Ferrari have never had a front row in Abu Dhabi and that disappointing run continued, as there was confusion on Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc’s final runs. Vettel was released first, with Leclerc just behind. But a slowish lap from Vettel, who said he had cold tyres and had the pack backing up ahead of him, meant he only just made it across the line before the chequered flag. His team mate wasn’t so lucky…

    Vettel then had a poor first sector, which meant he was unable to improve, meaning he ended up fifth, a place behind Leclerc, with the second Red Bull of Alexander Albon sixth.

    Lando Norris found a bunch of time on his second run to leapfrog McLaren team mate Carlos Sainz and end up seventh, meaning he wins the team mate head-to-head 11-10. Daniel Ricciardo was eighth and Sainz ninth, the trio separated by just 0.023s. Nico Hulkenberg, competing in potentially his last ever F1 Grand Prix, closed his season out with 10th.

    Q1 – Mercedes impress as Alfa Romeo struggle

    The session was barely a few minutes old when Vettel caused a scene at the final corner, losing the car as he got on the power and spinning onto the start-finish straight. The Ferrari driver got going again, and clocked a lap on flat-spotted tyres that was good enough to see him through to the next segment.

    Meanwhile, Hamilton looked to have turned a corner with his speed in FP3 and stepped it up again when qualifying got under way, topping the times in Q1, comfortably clear of team mate Bottas as Mercedes opted to send their cars out with enough fuel for a series of flying laps, such was their confidence.

    At the other end of the pack, Romain Grosjean had a close shave with Daniil Kvyat when the Toro Rosso was released in front of him in the pits ahead of their final runs. The Frenchman, who had looked best of the rest for much of the weekend, failed to get the job done and made a shock exit in Q1.

    He was joined in taking an early bath by the Alfa Romeos of Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen, the duo looking painfully slow, and the Williams pair of George Russell and Robert Kubica.

    Knocked out: Grosjean, Giovinazzi, Raikkonen, Russell, Kubica

    Q2 – Frontrunners apart from Vettel qualify on medium

    Q2 coincided with sunset, the floodlights that line the track on Yas Island flicking up to full power, with the drivers swapping to a more transparent visor to help improve visibility.

    Mercedes and Red Bull plus Ferrari’s Leclerc set their quickest times on the medium tyre, while Ferrari’s Vettel did his on the soft (and still only managed fourth), meaning they will start Sunday’s race on the more durable rubber.

    Nico Hulkenberg, potentially racing in his last ever F1 race having failed to get a seat next year, popped in a tyre in the closing stages to scrape into the top 10, a fraction behind Renault team mate Daniel Ricciardo. That is the first time both Renaults have made Q3 since Russia, five races ago.

    Sergio Perez just missed out in 11th, just ahead of Pierre Gasly – with Lance Stroll – who got out of Q1 for only the seventh time this year – also getting the boot in the second segment.

    Daniil Kvyat finished the season with only one Q3 appearance in the final 15 races while Kevin Magnussen maintained his record of having never reached Q3 in five visits to Abu Dhabi. Elsewhere, McLaren’s Carlos Sainz the best of the midfield drivers with the sixth quickest time.

    Knocked out: Perez, Gasly, Stroll, Kvyat, Magnussen

    Q3 – Hamilton back on top of the pile

    Hamilton stamped his authority early in the final segment of qualifying, the six-time world champion comfortably slotting into top spot, ahead of Verstappen and Bottas.

    They then bolted on a fresh set of tyres for one last stab, with Hamilton going even faster to secure a first pole position since Germany, 10 races ago.

    Bottas held onto second, as Verstappen made a mistake in the final corner, to give Mercedes their sixth consecutive one-two in Q3 – but they will not lock-out the front row courtesy of Bottas’ grid penalty.

    Verstappen moves onto the front row, having never previously started higher than six on the grid in Abu Dhabi, while his team mate Albon starts on row three for the fifth consecutive race.

    Ferrari failed to get their act together in the final moments of qualifying, Leclerc failing to get one last lap after being timed out and while Vettel did get through, his cold tyres prevented him improving.

  2. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton admitted this this pole position drought felt longer. Motorsport.com has the news story.

    Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton says his Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pole position ended a drought that felt longer than the run stretching back to the German Grand Prix.

    Hamilton’s pole at the Yas Marina circuit was his first in nine races, having last topped qualifying in Germany – a result aided by the Ferraris suffering mechanical problems.

    The Mercedes driver ends the season with five pole positions, level with teammate Valtteri Bottas, and has taken his career tally to 88.

    “It feels longer than the German Grand Prix,” said Hamilton of his wait for pole position.

    “And if I’m really honest, I don’t even understand how I got the German Grand Prix pole! It’s been really hard because you come back from the break, and the competition’s been spectacular, all the drivers have been doing an amazing job.

    “I don’t think my qualifying has been terrible, but it’s just not been at my usual standard perhaps. Of course it is incredibly satisfying to know that we put the work in.

    “Honestly [88 poles] it’s really strange, it honestly feels like the first. I don’t know why. It feels super fresh, maybe because it’s been so long since earlier on in season.”

    Ferrari’s significant and controversial upturn in form since the summer break is the main factor in Mercedes’ drop in qualifying performance, as is Red Bull’s recent return to prominence.

    However, asked by Motorsport.com if it was every a concern, Hamilton said: “No, there wasn’t a worry through the season.

    “I’m well aware that you can’t win them all and I’ve been extremely fortunate and done a relatively decent job over the years.

    “I think it’s just understanding the car and and ultimately just squeezing out the best, not overdriving, not underdriving, trying to find the right balance throughout the year.

    “Austin was the last time the car was able to be on the front row, which Valtteri did but I just wasn’t there. So it’s frustrating when you miss those sessions, I think the same in Japan.

    “But these last two races, I’ve done quite a lot of experimenting, just with my driving style and with the car, just trying to see if I can eke out a little bit more.

    “I think I’m closer to it, not 100%, but I’ll apply what I learned this year into next.”

    Hamilton said after Friday practice that his experiments had left his car feeling more “erratic” and he admitted following qualifying it had made his task tougher.

    “It’s not been the easiest in terms of qualifying throughout the year and it’s been something we’ve just been chipping away at,” said Hamilton.

    “Yesterday was a little bit difficult, I had to re-centre myself for today. The best thing is when you get to Q3 and you pull out two good laps.

    “I think my first lap it felt special, and then the second one obviously was an improvement.”

  3. Valtteri Bottas battling illness during Abu Dhabi weekend. Motorsport.com has the details.

    Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas says he has been battling an illness during the entire Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.

    The Finn, whose chances of a strong result were dashed before the weekend started when he needed an engine change, said after qualifying that he had started feeling worse since he landed in Abu Dhabi.

    Bottas finished qualifying in second place behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, but will start from the back of the grid following two power unit changes ahead of the grid-deciding session.

    “Well, I’m feeling better already than a couple of days ago,” Bottas, visibly and audibly unwell during the press conference, said.

    “I’ve been quite ill this week since Monday night. So when I travelled here, it got worse. But in the car, it doesn’t matter. You know, the adrenaline kicks in and you feel normal.”

    Bottas had been quickest in both Friday practice sessions, but was unable to match Hamilton’s pace in Q3, finishing 0.194s behind the world champion.

    The Finnish driver conceded that Hamilton was probably out of reach even with a perfect lap.

    “That lap was OK,” Bottas added. “I think still it felt like Lewis was a little bit too quick and I think we were slightly different with a set-up as well by the end of the qualifying.

    “I felt a bit more comfortable yesterday with the car overall but obviously for me the only thing I was trying to keep in my mind was the race because I knew I’m going to be starting last.”

    Despite starting last, Bottas insists anything will be possible in the race, especially if something “crazy” happens.

    “Everything is always possible. There’s no point for me to set any any limits for tomorrow. We’ll have a good fighting spirit, take every opportunity there will be tomorrow.

    “There will be some and you know, we’ve seen crazy races this year. Look back two weeks in Brazil.

    “Anything’s possible. I look forward to coming up and taking those opportunities and most importantly, having fun in the car.”

  4. Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says he would be “totally okay” with Lewis Hamilton speaking to Ferrari, amid a report that the F1 champion has had meetings with parent company Fiat Chrysler’s chairman John Elkann.

    According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, Hamilton – who, like most of his F1 peers, is out of contract at the end of 2020 – has met Elkann twice over the course of the campaign.

    And while the 34-year-old has tended to play down the possibility of racing for anyone but Mercedes in the future, Wolff had admitted that the appeal of a Ferrari seat for any F1 driver had come up as a topic during talks over Hamilton’s latest Mercedes deal.

    Asked during the final F1 race weekend of the season in Abu Dhabi what he would make of Hamilton meeting Ferrari, as per the newest reports, Wolff said: “I’m totally okay with that. I think this is a free world and I recognise that everybody needs to explore career options, and make the best decision for themselves. Drivers and everybody else included.

    “So, I have zero problem, a racing driver will always try to be in the quickest possible car, and the quickest possible car is always going to try to have the best racing driver in there. So there is a good consensus between us [over] what we are trying to achieve.”

    Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said on Friday that his organisation “can only be happy” about Hamilton, who has won five of the last six F1 drivers’ titles on offer, being on the market for 2021.

    “I actually sat next to Mattia when he said that, in the press conference, and he was asked the question what he thought about Lewis, and he said he has the highest of esteems about Lewis,” Wolff said.

    “You can also bet that if his chairman meets with him, that he’s not going to talk badly [of Hamilton] either.

    “So, I am totally relaxed about the situation. We need to push very hard to provide the drivers with the quickest possible car. And if we are able to do this, I’m 100 percent convinced that we will have the best possible driver line-up in the car.

    “And everything points to our relationship [with Hamilton] to continue, but in life you never know. And therefore, as I said before, I am very open about this. I’ve started to embrace the fact that everybody has objectives, and needs to have the best possible opportunity for their career. In that respect, I am absolutely open for everybody to explore options.

    “But obviously my personal priority as for the team would be to continue the successful journey [with Hamilton].”

    Source: Motorsport.com

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