Valtteri Bottas has beaten his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Finn was one-tenth faster than his four times world champion teammate allowing him to beat Hamilton and take his fourth pole of the season.
It was a great fight between the Mercedes duo traded lap times in the closing moments of the session. But Bottas managed to pull it out of the bag in what turned into a fight between the two Mercedes as their main rivals where well behind on the final runs in Q3.
Hamilton looked faster in the first two sectors however in the final sector the rear of the car snapped away from him as he exited the final corner.
Bottas said “Family support is always nice, today things were getting better and better in the practice session and it was all under control and I felt good in the car. I’m really happy. I was so gutted in Brazil in the last race to be on pole and missing out on the win. I have a clear target for tomorrow.”
Hamilton added “He had an incredible qualifying session and congratulations to him. I think I lost a little bit of pace going into qualifying but Valtteri did great. I’m really pleased for him.”
“I think I was up a little bit on turn one but then I lost it on turn five or six, otherwise it’s been an incredible year of qualifying and one I’ve really enjoyed.”
Sebastian Vettel was third fastest after struggling to find the pace of Bottas on his final run. Daniel Ricciardo put his Red Bull two-thousandths of a second faster than Kimi Raikkonen. It was a great lap from the Australian just a tenth down on Vettel while his teammate Max Verstappen was three-tenths of Raikkonen in sixth.
It was a good session from Nico Hulkenberg, who was best of the rest in seventh. The Renault driver was less than a tenth ahead of his former teammate Sergio Perez who was two thousandths of a second faster than his current teammate Esteban Ocon.
But the starting place for Hulkenberg will be a key factor in the outcome of the teams battle with Toro Rosso in the constructors.
Renault is just four points behind the Red Bull junior team with Haas two points behind. The battle for fifth place is worth tens of millions of pounds in prize money for the teams.
Felipe Massa will start his final race from tenth. The Brazilian was one of six drivers who managed to improve in Q2 to get out of the drop zone, in the process knocking out the McLaren of Fernando Alonso in the closing moments of the session.
Carlos Sainz found time to spilt the McLaren’s of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne to start twelfth. The Spaniard was half a second down on his teammate Hulkenberg, but the Renault driver was struggling with a power delivery issue at the end of his lap in Q2.
Haas’s Kevin Magnussen was half a second behind Vandoorne but was well clear of the Williams of Lance Stroll. The Canadian just squeezed himself out of Q1 at the expense of Romain Grosjean, by one-thousandth of a second.
It was yet another nightmare for Toro Rosso with their hopes of holding off Renault and Haas in the constructor’s championship suffering another blow. Both Brendon Hartley, who will start last thanks to an engine penalty and Pierre Gasly both dropping out in Q1.
The new World Endurance champion struggled to get the lap together and finished almost half a second down on Ericsson.