Hamilton wins pole in Abu Dhabi
Lewis Hamilton had not won a pole in 9 races but in Abu Dhabi that all came to an end with Hamilton comfortably on pole with a time of 1m34.779s - a new track record - in his Mercedes.
His teammate Valtteri Bottas was 2nd quick 0.194s back but he will have to start at the back due to an engine change.
That will move 3rd quick Max Verstappen's Red Bull up to the front row for the race. The Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel will fill the 2nd row of the grid after rounding out the top-5 in qualifying with the second Red Bull of Alexander Albon sixth.
That was Hamilton's fifth pole of the season and 88th of his career, to match the tally of his teammate. "I'm looking forward to the battle," is Hamilton's assessment of lining up alongside Verstappen.
The Ferrari team showed how inferior they are as Charles Leclerc did not make it across the line in time to make a final run for pole.
Lando Norris found a bunch of time on his second run to leapfrog McLaren team mate Carlos Sainz and end up seventh, meaning he wins the team mate head-to-head 11-10. Daniel Ricciardo was eighth and Sainz ninth, the trio separated by just 0.023s. Nico Hulkenberg, competing in potentially his last ever F1 Grand Prix, closed his season out with 10th.
Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
Valtteri Bottas (2nd, 1:34.973): "Congratulations to Lewis - 88 pole positions, that's an impressive number. My lap was good, but it felt like Lewis was a bit too quick today. 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 tires 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."
Toto Wolff, Team Principal: "It's fantastic to conclude Qualifying for the season with a 1-2, a perfect result for us. It's been a little while since Lewis was last on pole back at Hockenheim, but he really got into the rhythm today. This is a track that seems to suit us well and it clearly suits him too. Valtteri did a great job too and it's a shame he will have to start the race from the back. It's going to be exciting to watch him go through the field tomorrow. We've got our drivers at either end of the grid, but our aim tomorrow will be to end this remarkable season in style with both of them."
James Allison, Technical Director: "We were hopeful after Friday that there was some good pace in the car. It seemed like we had some strength, but we could also see from Max's running and from the Ferraris, that they were capable of threatening us. So we went into Qualifying with no idea where we would be - it could be the front row, or fifth and sixth. It was very gratifying to see, as Qualifying unwrapped, that we were strong in each session and have been able to finish Qualifying for the year in the same vein that we started it - with a dominant first and second on the grid. Of course, it's sad that Valtteri will start from the back of the grid, but I'm really excited to see how the race pans out for both our drivers."
Charles Leclerc (4th, 1:35.219): “Qualifying was tough today. The lap I did on the first run for fourth place was good, but you can always do better. It’s a shame that we didn’t manage to get back out in time to do another lap. Though pole seems to have been out of reach today, I do believe that we had an opportunity to have a better result, but that’s just how it goes sometimes. Ahead of the race, we will mainly have to work on making improvements in the last sector. That’s where we lacked the most in terms of our performance. It is the last race of the year, the last chance to get third place back in the championship, which will not be easy. I will have to take some risks at the start to fight for it and will give it my all. Let’s see what we can do.”
Sebastian Vettel (5th, 1:35.329): “I will start from P4 tomorrow but today’s Q3 was not ideal. We are struggling a lot in the final sector where there are some corners in which we are simply not quick enough. It’s probably not the best track for us, but we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. In the last part of the session it was a pity because everybody was so slow. As a result, my tires were too cold when I started my lap and I lost the car immediately in the first corner. And Charles wasn’t even able to start his lap. The reason why we are slow in the last corner is maybe that we are sliding more than the others, because we are struggling to get the tires working correctly. Tomorrow we will do our best, but it won’t be an easy race. But we are looking for opportunities. That’s why we have chosen a different tire compound and will see if we are right to start on Softs.”
Mattia Binotto, Team Principal: “We went into qualifying today knowing that, all weekend we were not fast enough in the third sector, so we had to come up with something. In the first run in Q3 we were still a long way off pole so we decided to really go for it at the end, when the track was improving, by going out at the very last minute, aiming to have the track in the best conditions. We knew it would be tight and we were well aware of the risk we were taking, but we had to take it. Unfortunately, we encountered some traffic and that meant it didn’t work out for us. The call concerning which tire to start the race on was very tight and here again we went for different strategies in order to make sure we’ll have the most opportunities tomorrow.”
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Max Verstappen (3rd, 1:35.139): "I'm pretty pleased with qualifying and we got the most out of the car. Of course you always want to be ahead or a little closer to pole but I think this was the best we could do and there wasn't much more in it. There are always tracks on the calendar where certain cars work better than others and it's easier to find a good set-up. This is a Mercedes track and for us it was a bit more tricky to get everything out of the last sector. With Valtteri's penalty I will start from the front row which will help in the race. The start will be important as overtaking is difficult around here but it's a long race and we will of course be going for the win as always. Mercedes will be quick and it won't be easy but as a Team we will make it as hard as possible, put them under pressure, and fight them until the end."
Alexander Albon (6th, 1:35.682): "Qualifying was pretty average for me and I'm not all that satisfied with my result. I struggled from the beginning of Q1 and just didn't get the most out of it which is frustrating. It was tricky out there and quite slippery but the race pace looks ok for tomorrow. Mercedes look quite fast so they'll be strong and I expect Valtteri to make his way through the field, so we'll need to get a good start. I think the degradation is quite high which is why most of us are starting on the medium tire but it will be interesting with Seb who starts on the soft. We'll give it everything tomorrow and try to make something happen."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "I think it was a really solid qualifying with P3 for Max and P6 for Alex, which with Valtteri's penalty, will be P2 and P5. I think both drivers did a very good job today with good grid positions to hopefully attack tomorrow. We elected to start the race on the harder compound whilst Ferrari went down a different route with the soft so that will make for an interesting and tactical race tomorrow. We've equaled our best qualifying result here at Abu Dhabi in the hybrid era so that's really encouraging and we tend to have good race pace so hopefully we can challenge the Mercedes tomorrow."
Renault Sport Formula One Team
Daniel Ricciardo (8th, 1:36.456): "I'm really happy with today's qualifying. It's cool for both cars to be in Q3. We've made a good turnaround from Friday and that's what I'm most proud about. The jump we made is really strong and encouraging and credit to the team for working hard overnight. It was close out there again today but we're in the mix inside the top ten. There's a bit of pressure in the fight for fifth and there's a job to do. We delivered today and now we have to deliver tomorrow."
Nico Hulkenberg (10th, 1:36.710): "We'll take tenth today. I was pleased with the laps I produced throughout all three sessions. It was a bit tricky at the start, I was chasing the feeling in the car and I did the best I could. We were on the backfoot a little bit after yesterday, but we recovered well and found some performance overnight and today. It's positive for the team, with both cars in Q3. I think it's going to be exciting and tight tomorrow. We're in a race for fifth and it's all to play for."
Alan Permane, Sporting Director: "It was a slick qualifying and everything went perfectly to plan; traffic management, timings, garage turnarounds and driver performance. We did our homework and got both the balance and tire temperatures under control for FP3 and qualifying. With solid sessions from both drivers and also the race crew in the garage, we can be pleased with that outcome. It's given us a good basis for the race tomorrow."
Haas F1 Team
Romain Grosjean (16th, 1:38.051): "It was very close and very far today. After three sessions where we were sixth, seventh and 11th, I think we were ready for qualifying. We were thinking we could be around tenth or 11th. We got out there and the car just behaved very differently. Obviously, we didn't run the same package as yesterday with the same track temperatures, that surely didn't help us. It's been the story of our season. You get things set up and then you go into qualifying and the car just doesn't behave the same. I'm disappointed with that, but there's nothing the guys could have done differently. We've done the best job we could. I'm looking forward to next year."
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal: "Our expectations weren't high for qualifying, and we were right. Finishing up 15th and 16th is the best we can do at the moment. I'm happy that it was the last qualifying session of the year, and I'm also happy that tomorrow's the last race of the year. As always, we're looking forward to going racing, even if we know our chances for points are slim."
McLaren F1 Team
Lando Norris (7th, 1:36.436): "A good quali for me, Carlos and the team. We achieved P7 but a P6 grid start taking into account the Bottas penalty, so I'm happy. It's been a pretty good couple of days. I've generally been fairly comfortable with the car, which has been positive. We knew quali was going to be tough and our aim was to get into Q3 and we did that. We're ahead of the midfield guys we wanted to beat, so that's a bonus. It couldn't have been any better in terms of positions – it's a good way to end the season."
Carlos Sainz (9th, 1:36.459): "I'm very disappointed with that P9 when I'd been very strong in Q1 and Q2. I was looking forward to putting another good lap together in Q3, but the out-lap was far from ideal. We got ourselves into trouble with the Mercedes and Ferrari and my last attempt was compromised. It's a shame, because matching my Q2 lap would have put us P7 easily. I expect a tough race tomorrow and we need to switch our focus quickly."
Andreas Seidl, Team Principal: "After a challenging Friday, the team here at the track, together with the support we got from the factory, made the right calls on improving the performance of our cars overnight. The team executed well again today in quali, both drivers pulled it off when it counted and it's great for us to finish the last quali of the season with both cars in the top 10. Starting tomorrow in P6 and P8 gives us a good chance to climb further up the standings in the Drivers' Championship which will be our focus. We're looking forward to an exciting last race of the season and sending the MCL34 into retirement in race mode with a good result."
Racing Point F1 Team
Sergio Perez (11th, 1:37.055): "Unfortunately I lost the rear end in Turn 1 on my last run, which meant that I missed my final chance in Q2. I don't really know what happened. With the penalty for Bottas, we should start from P10 tomorrow, which is not a bad place to be with a free tire choice. I think we can move forwards from there because our race pace should be stronger. We just want to end the season on a high note."
Lance Stroll (13th, 1:37.103): "We didn't quite make it to Q3 tonight, but I think it was still a good effort by the team. I wasn't happy with my Q1 performance, but I still made it through to Q2. To be starting from P12 gives us a good chance of a solid result tomorrow. We can think hard tonight about the strategy and we've got a free choice of tires for the start tomorrow. There were maybe a few tenths of improvement I could have found in Q2, but I'm quite happy heading into tomorrow knowing that we have a good car in race conditions."
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer: "Small margins were the story of the day with Sergio and Lance separated by less than a tenth of a second by the end of Q2. We expect to start from P10 and P12, which gives us every chance to bring home good points tomorrow. I'm optimistic our race pace will allow us to progress from our qualifying positions. The target is to end the year on a positive note."
Alfa Romeo Racing
Antonio Giovinazzi (17th, 1:38.114): "The car felt pretty good but we lacked something today. It's a pity as our race pace didn't look bad, so a good starting position would have helped. Instead, tomorrow will be a bit of a challenge: we need a good start and to make the right strategy calls if we want to make up some places and get back in the fight."
Kimi Raikkonen (18th, 1:38.383): "It's a disappointing result as we were hoping to get something more out of qualifying. The car hasn't lost much speed compared to last time out in Brazil, but we couldn't find the grip we needed over a single lap. Hopefully this should be easier over a race distance, so we can hope to make progress in the race. Overtaking is not easy here, especially from where we start, but we are going to give it a good try."
Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal: "After such a positive weekend in Brazil, to lose two cars in Q1 falls definitely short of our expectations. We struggled to bring the tires to the right temperature window today and that affected the grip we had on track. We have a busy night ahead trying to understand the causes for this and to turn our fortunes around in the race. We are confident in our race pace, but starting towards the back means we will have a fight ahead of us to get back into the points tomorrow."
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
Pierre Gasly (12th, 1:37.089): "It was a bit of trickier session for us in Qualifying compared to the rest of the weekend. We were sliding a lot and we weren't as competitive as this morning. We'll try to understand the reason for this tonight, but all in all it's not bad because we start from 11th position tomorrow and have a free choice of tires. We knew we had more degradation with the Soft compound, so hopefully this will play in our favor during the race as our long runs looked strong yesterday."
Daniil Kvyat (14th, 1:37.141): "The car didn't really feel great today and I was sliding around in Qualifying. I never really found good grip on the tires and the car didn't click. The only decent lap I got in was the first lap of Q2, the rest I just had a bad feeling in the car. We hope things will be better tomorrow, the race is different to Qualifying, you can play with the strategy and, if everything works well, there's always a chance to move up the grid."
Jody Egginton, Technical Director: "Following on from a productive Friday, FP3 was again positive with both sides of the garage fairly happy with the setup going into Qualifying. Qualifying itself was 'ok' but nothing more, as we were having to chase the balance more than ideal in Q2, which means we have potentially slightly under delivered on the potential tonight. However, the differences in tire life across the compounds here means that lining up outside of the top 10 with a free tire choice potentially provides some extra chances to battle the cars ahead. As such, we are very focused on making best use of our two cars to take whatever opportunity presents itself in what we expect it could be another exciting battle in the midfield tomorrow."
Toyoharu Tanabe, Honda F1 Technical Director: "Max produced a good lap to qualify third and he inherits a front row starting position because of Bottas' penalty. Alex also moves up one place to fifth on the grid and both these positions mean we can hope for a strong finish to the season tomorrow night. The Toro Rosso drivers missed the cut into Q3, but starting from 11 and 13 on the grid, they can still fight for points and, importantly, they have a free choice of tire. It's the last race of 2019 and we want to end this season in the best possible way with both our teams."
ROKiT Williams Racing
George Russell (19th, 1:38.717): "It was a good final qualifying session for us. Prior to the weekend, and after yesterday, we were anticipating being a second away from the next car. I think we ended up being three tenths, and a second from Q2. You have to take the small victories and be pleased that we did the maximum with the car. Tomorrow we will do our best, it is our last opportunity until next year."
Robert Kubica (20th, 1:39.236): "It wasn't an easy session. We had a small issue on the first run, so I lost a bit of confidence and knowledge about the conditions. In the end, I managed a reasonable lap, but it was qualifying as expected and unfortunately the pace is what it is. The race is long, and we have to make sure we do our best. It will be tough, but we will see what happens and try to enjoy tomorrow."
Dave Robson, Senior Race Engineer: "Using the information that we gathered yesterday evening, we made some small changes to the cars for qualifying, which enabled us to significantly close the gap to Alfa Romeo in Q1. Overall the pace of the car was as expected but, once again, the team did a good job to get the most out of the car and both drivers put in strong performances. Our high fuel pace in FP2 was more competitive than our low fuel pace. We don't expect that the changes we made to the car overnight will affect this, and so we go into tomorrow looking to challenge both Haas and Alfa Romeo."
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