Lewis Hamilton takes pole at season-ending Abu Dhabi GP
"We were quite pessimistic, but we got to Q2, so happy with that," Alonso told television reporters. "Priority is to finish the race. If we are in the points that would be a dream."
Lewis Hamilton seized pole position for today's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas who completed a front-row lockout for Mercedes in the final qualifying session of the year. The Briton, who clinched his fifth championship crown with two races to spare in Mexico last month, dazzled under the floodlights, lapping the Yas Marina circuit in one minute 34.794 seconds.
Bottas, who won from pole in Abu Dhabi last season but is still seeking his first win this year, had been hoping to score a repeat of that result but fell short by 0.162 seconds. Sebastian Vettel took third for Ferrari 0.331 seconds off Hamilton's pace. "It was quite an emotional qualifying session for me because it's the last time I'm going to be qualifying in this car," said Hamilton after the session. "I've been closest to this than probably I've been to any car." Yesterday's pole was Hamilton's 11th this season and a record-extending 83rd of his career. He has also now taken pole in 52 of the 100 qualifying sessions that have been held since Formula One's turbo-hybrid era began in 2014.
Bottas had gone into the session with his sights set squarely on seizing pole. The Finn seemed like he would mount a genuine challenge to his team-mate after setting the fastest time through the middle sector but Hamilton was unbeatable over the final sector of the lap. "For sure I was aiming for the pole," said the 29-year-old. "Personally, second wasn't what I was expecting. I think I lost a little bit of time in Turn 17, 18, just very difficult to get perfectly right."
Kimi Raikkonen will line up on the second row of the grid for his Ferrari swansong, alongside team-mate Vettel, after having gone fourth fastest. Renault-bound Daniel Ricciardo, who was sidelined with engine trouble in the final practice session, will start fifth in his last race for Red Bull. Team-mate Max Verstappen was sixth ahead of Romain Grosjean who took best-of-the-rest honours for Haas.
Charles Leclerc, replacing Raikkonen at Ferrari next year, was eighth ahead of Force India's Esteban Ocon, who will move into a reserve driver role for Mercedes with his seat set to be taken by Lance Stroll. Renault's Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top ten. Fernando Alonso, taking part in his final qualifying session, made it through the first knockout phase. The Spaniard will start what for now seems to be his final Formula One race 15th. "We were quite pessimistic, but we got to Q2, so happy with that," Alonso told television reporters. "Priority is to finish the race. If we are in the points that would be a dream."
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