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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton pips Bottas for final pole of the year

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton pips Bottas for final pole of the year

24/11/2018 at 19:24Updated 24/11/2018 at 19:30

Mercedes lock out the front row one more time in the final Grand Prix of the season, in Abu Dhabi.

Q1

There's always a slight end-of-term feeling to the race at Yas Marina, and this year is proving no exception with plenty of party spirit so far.

Sebastian Vettel would have been well pleased with his start to qualifying, going a minuscule 0.014 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, and 0.053 quicker than former title rival Lewis Hamilton.

Esteban Ocon did excellently for Force India, slotting into P4 ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari as well as both Red Bulls, who seemed to be taking their time to warm up.

Fernando Alonso, bidding farewell to this form of motorsport, was veering dangerously close to the drop zone before pulling out an epic flying lap to push the Toro Rossos down the order.

OUT: Brendon Hartley (Toro Rosso), Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso), Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren), Sergey Sirotkin (Williams), Lance Stroll (Williams).

Q2

And after a reasonably quiet start to qualifying for the newly crowned champion, he promptly smashed the track record.

Max Verstappen got a new lease of life too, going over a second quicker than he managed in Q1 to secure P2 just behind Hamilton.

OUT: Carlos Sainz (Renault), Marcus Ericsson (Sauber), Kevin Magnussen (Haas), Sergio Perez (Force India), Fernando Alonso (McLaren).

Q3

Hamilton continued his cruise, with team-mate Valtteri Bottas locking out the front row for Mercedes - and the Ferraris taking the second with the Red Bulls on the third.

The rest of the top ten was an interesting mix - the Haas of Romain Grosjean ahead of the Sauber of Charles Leclerc, followed by Force India's Esteban Ocon and Renault's Nico Hulkenberg.

TOP TEN: Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Romain Grosjean (Haas), Charles Leclerc (Sauber), Esteban Ocon (Force India), Nico Hulkenberg (Renault).

QUALIFYING IN SUMMARY

Sometimes the world champion will ease off when the title is secured. Not a bit of it here as Lewis Hamilton continues on his victory laps.

ONE TO WATCH

Fernando Alonso bids farewell to F1 this weekend - he'll want to do it in style. Even if he doesn't manage to impress in the car, he'll do something worth watching - or say something over the radio in his own inimitable style. Plus it's worth noting he's the only driver to whitewash his team-mate in qualifying this season, knocking Stoffel Vandoorne down the order every single race weekend.

BIGGEST SHOCK

Probably Max Verstappen's somewhat inconsistent showings. Having outstripped team-mate Ricciardo this year, he will want to finish ahead of the Australian in their final race together in Red Bull colours. Expect fireworks.

PREDICTED PODIUM

Lewis Hamilton - Valtteri Bottas - Sebastian Vettel

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