Hamilton Claims Pole For Abu Dhabi Finale

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Lewis Hamilton (right) bested teammate Valtteri Bottas (left) to earn the pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. (Steve Etherington Photo)
Lewis Hamilton (right) bested teammate Valtteri Bottas (left) to earn the pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. (Steve Etherington Photo)

YAS ISLAND, Abu Dhabi – Lewis Hamilton snapped a pole drought dating back to July’s German Grand Prix by claiming the pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday at the Yas Island Circuit.

Hamilton put his Mercedes on the pole with a quick 1:34.779 lap time during Q3, which put him just ahead of his teammate Valtteri Bottas.

“It was a very good qualifying session for us. Qualifying hasn’t been the easiest this year, but it’s been something we’ve just been chipping away it. Yesterday was a bit difficult for me, I had to re-center myself for today,” Hamilton said after his 88th career Formula One pole. “But it’s the best thing when you get to Q3 and you pull out two good laps. A big thank you to the entire team for their continued effort. Even though we have both titles won, we continue to push and strive to be better and that’s so inspiring to me. It’s been an incredible journey with this car this year, so to finish the year off with a pole is a great feeling. It’s not even half the job done, but this result puts us in the best position possible for tomorrow when we’ve got to battle with the Ferraris and Red Bulls.”

Bottas settled for second during qualifying, but he won’t start there. Instead, he’ll have to start from the rear after his team swapped in new power unit parts for the season-ending race.

“My lap was good, but it felt like Lewis was a bit too quick today,” Bottas said. “We used different set-ups in qualifying and overall I felt a bit more comfortable in the car yesterday. Anyway, my main focus is on the race tomorrow as I knew going into qualifying that I’d be starting the race from the back owing to the grid penalty. I still pushed as hard as I could, but I only did one run in Q2 to save a set of tyres for tomorrow. I think it’ll be an entertaining race tomorrow and I’ll try to make up as many places as possible. It’ll be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Max Verstappen qualified third, but will move up to second thanks to Bottas’ grid penalty. The Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel will start third and fourth, with Alexander Albon and Lando Norris set to start fifth and sixth.

Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz Jr., Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez will start seventh through 10th, respectively.