F1: Valtteri Bottas pips Lewis Hamilton to take pole in Abu Dhabi GP
Valtteri Bottas seized pole position for today's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, denying his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton the top-spot in the final qualifying session of the season
Valtteri Bottas seized pole position for today's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, denying his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton the top-spot in the final qualifying session of the season. The Finn lapped the floodlit Yas Marina circuit in one minute 36.231 seconds, a new record around the 5.5-kilometer long venue, that was also 0.172 seconds quicker than Hamilton's best. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was third.
Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas (left) with teammate Lewis Hamilton after the qualifying session in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Pic/AFP
Yesterday's pole was Bottas' fourth this season and of his career so far. It was the first time Bottas has claimed consecutive poles, with the 28-year-old also starting the last race in Brazil from the front. On that occasion, he lost out at the start to Vettel, who went on to take the win. As a result he heads into Sunday's race fired up to make amends. "I was so gutted in the last race being on pole and missing the win," Bottas said after qualifying. "I have a clear target for tomorrow."
Hamilton has set himself out as the master of qualifying this season by far, racing to 11 pole positions to Bottas and Vettel's four and Kimi Raikkonen's one. He also holds the all-time record for most pole positions with 72, after surpassing Michael Schumacher's previous benchmark of 68 at the Italian Grand Prix this year. But yesterday he had to settle for second after a scrappy final flying lap, even if Bottas similarly failed to improve on his second run.
"The last qualifying of the year and I gave it everything but I seem to have lost a little pace going into qualifying," said the 32-year-old, who clinched his fourth world title two races ago in Mexico. "Valtteri did an exceptional job, so I'm really happy for him. "Either way, it's been an incredible year of qualifying and one that I've really enjoyed."
Daniel Ricciardo took fourth, ahead of Raikkonen in the Ferrari and Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen. Nico Hulkenburg will line up seven for Renault, ahead of Force India pair Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon. Felipe Massa, set to retire at the end of the season, will start his last race from tenth. "It's a good way to retire, good races, good lap times," said the Williams driver. "I'm happy that I'm finished with my head up and competitive. "I want to have fun tomorrow. I have nothing to lose, risk everything you can. Let's have fun."
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