Daniel and Max will start the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from row three of the grid, with Daniel edging his team-mate by just 0.188 to claim a P5 start for his final race with the Team.
In the opening runs of Q1 it was Vettel who went quickest, the German shuffling team-mate Kimi Räikkönen out of top spot with a lap of 1:36.946 that he then improved by almost two tenths. Hamilton took third spot ahead of Daniel, who posted an opening time of 1:37.117 despite hitting traffic in the final sector. Max slotted into P5, just under 0.08s behind his team-mate.
Bottas then jumped to P2 with a late flyer. He was joined by Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon, whose final flyer netted P4 behind Hamilton and ahead of Räikkönen, and Sauber’s Charles Leclerc who split the Red Bulls by taking P7. In the end, the Bulls made comfortable progress with Daniel taking P6 and Max booking a Q2 berth with P8.
In the drop zone as the final runs approached were 16th-placed Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, followed by Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and the Williams cars of Sergey Sirotkin and Lance Stroll.
Both Alonso and Magnussen pulled out good laps to rise to P14 and P15 respectively and that dropped both Toro Rossos into the drop zone.
Pierre Gasly might have made the jump to safety after posting good times in the opening sectors but in the final stretch he slowed dramatically and limped across the line reporting a loss of power and “smoke coming out of the engine”.
The issue dropped him to P17 behind team-mate Brendon Hartley and both exited the session. Also eliminated in Q1 were 18th-placed Vandoorne, followed by Sirotkin and Stroll.
- 3 – That’s a hat-trick of P6 qualifying positions for Max Verstappen at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Dutchman has started the last three races at Yas Marina from the back of row three.
- 4 – That’s four row three lock-outs for the team this year. We’ve started from P5 and P6 in China, Spain, Britain and here in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton seized the initiative in the early Q2 runs as the top three teams opted to run ultrasofts. The Mercedes driver hit the front with a time of 1:35.693 to sit almost seven tenths of a second clear of second-placed Bottas. The Mercedes pair were followed by Räikkönen, Vettel and Daniel who opened with a time of 1:36.964.
Max though was struggling on his lap and his opening flyer yielded a time of 1:37.251, which was only good enough for 10th position. The Dutchman would need another run to ensure progress and a lap of 1:36.144 on hypersofts vaulted him to P2 behind Hamilton.
Daniel’s ultrasoft gamble paid off, however, and though the Australian dropped to P10 as rivals improved, he claimed his Q3 berth with his opening time of 1:36.964 and will, like the Mercedes and Ferraris start the race on ultrasoft tyres.
Eliminated behind Ricciardo were 11th placed Renault driver Carlos Sainz, followed by Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, Haas’ Magnussen, Racing Point Force India’s Sergio Perez and Alonso.
Hamilton drew first blood in the final segment, though Vettel was exerting heavy pressure, ending the opening runs just under six hundredths of a second behind the Mercedes driver. Bottas was third ahead of Daniel with Räikkönen splitting the Red Bulls in fifth place.
There was no denying Hamilton his 11th pole position of the season and the 83rd of his career and the Briton found an extra reserve of pace on the final flyer to eventually edge Bottas by 0.162s and third-placed Vettel by over four tenths of a second.
Räikkönen improved in the final run to claim fourth with a time of 1:35.365, while the Bulls locked out row three with Daniel sealing fifth place with an improvement to 1:35.401 and Max taking P6 with his opening Q3 time of 1:35.589. Behind them Haas’ Romain Grosjean was seventh ahead of Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, Racing Point Force India’s Esteban Ocon and the Renault’s of Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying - Top 10:
1. Lewis Hamilton
2. Valtteri Bottas
3. Sebastian Vettel
4. Kimi Raikkonen
5. DANIEL RICCIARDO
6. MAX VERSTAPPEN
7. Romain Grosjean
8. Charles Leclerc
9. Esteban Ocon
10. Nico Hulkenberg