Lewis Hamilton took his fifth pole position of the season and the 88thof his career by beating team-mate Valtteri Bottas by two tenths of a second to book top spot on the grid for the final race of the 2019 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen took third place in the session a little under two tenths of a second behind Bottas but the Dutchman will start the race from the front row after Bottas drops to the back of the grid thanks to penalties incurred due to an engine change.
Hamilton set the pace in Q1 with the Mercedes driver claiming top spot thanks to a time of 1:35.851 that put him 0.3s ahead of Bottas in the final minutes of the session. Verstappen was in P3 having posted a lap of 1:36.390 on his first flying lap.
Ahead of the final runs, Alex Albon in the second Red Bull was in sixth place and 1.4s off the pace after a cautious opening run and in the final stages of the session he opted to make another attempt. The Thai driver improved significantly and his time of 1:36.102 was good enough to propel him to P2 ahead of Bottas.
The first run of the session was also a tricky one for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The German was winding up for his first attempt but as he accelerated out of the final corner to begin his lap he lost control and spun on the pit straight. He recovered and eventually took P6 in the segment behind fourth placed team-mate Charles Leclerc and Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez who rose into the top 10 in the final moments of Q1.
At the other end of the order Haas’ Romain Grosjean was eliminated in 16th place ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen and the Williams cars of George Russell and Robert Kubica.
In Q2 Hamilton again set the early pace with a lap of 1:35.634 set on medium tyres. His choice of compound was mirrored by his team-mate and by Max and Alex. However, in the opening runs both Ferrari drivers ran with soft tyres.
In the final runs both Mercedes drivers and both Red Bull pilots backed out of soft tyre runs to guarantee a start on medium tyres. Ferrari, however, split their drivers, with Vettel progressing on soft tyres, while Leclerc vaulted to the top of the table with a impressive medium-tyre lap of 1:35.543 that put him almost a tenth clear of Hamilton with Bottas third and Vettel fourth ahead of Verstappen and soft tyre-shod Carlos Sainz.
Eliminated at the end of session were 11th-placed Sergio Pérez, followed by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll, the second Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
Leclerc’s heroics wouldn’t cross over into Q3 however and Hamilton soon reasserted his dominance with a final run time of 1:35.779 that put him beyond reach of his rivals.
Bottas got closest, taking P2 just under two tenths of a second behind his team-mate, while Verstappen ended the sesison in third place, 0.164s behind the Finn. Behind the top three in the session Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel qualified fourth and fifth for Ferrari, despite Leclerc missing out on a final lap as he failed to cross the line before the chequered flag. That left sixth place to Albon. Lando Norris qualified in seventh place for McLaren, with Daniel Ricciardo eighth ahead of the second McLaren of Carlos Sainz. The final top 10 place went to Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
2019 FIA Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:34.779 7 210.958
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:34.973 0.194 7 210.527
3 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing 1:35.139 0.360 7 210.159
4 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:35.219 0.440 5 209.983
5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:35.339 0.560 6 209.719
6 Alexander Albon Red Bull Racing 1:35.682 0.903 6 208.967
7 Lando Norris McLaren 1:36.436 1.657 6 207.333
8 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:36.456 1.677 3 207.290
9 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren 1:36.459 1.680 6 207.283
10 Nico Hülkenberg Renault 1:36.710 1.931 6 206.745
11 Sergio Pérez Racing Point 1:37.055 1.512 5 206.011
12 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:37.089 1.546 6 205.938
13 Lance Stroll Racing Point 1:37.103 1.560 6 205.909
14 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:37.141 1.598 6 205.828
15 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:37.254 1.711 6 205.589
16 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:38.051 2.200 8 203.918
17 A.Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:38.114 2.263 6 203.787
18 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo 1:38.383 2.532 6 203.230
19 George Russell Williams 1:38.717 2.866 8 202.542
20 Robert Kubica Williams 1:39.236 3.385 6 201.483