Valtteri Bottas pips Lewis Hamilton to Abu Dhabi pole

Valtteri Bottas secured pole position ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton at the final race of the season as the Mercedes drivers locked out the front row of the grid in Abu Dhabi.

Valtteri Bottas (Getty Images

Hamilton looked like the faster of the two Mercedes drivers throughout free practice, but Bottas pulled out an impressive lap in Q3 to snatch pole position. The gap between the teammates stood at 0.172s after both drivers failed to improve on their second runs in Q3. Hamilton’s last lap had been quicker through sectors one and two, but his final sector couldn’t match Bottas after the rear of his Mercedes snapped sideways coming out of the final corner.

Sebastian Vettel was the highest-placed Ferrari in third place, but was 0.546s off Bottas and 0.374s off Hamilton. Daniel Ricciardo managed an impressive lap at the end of the session to haul his Red Bull up to fourth and was just 0.182s shy of Vettel in third in the final standings.

Despite looking quick in free practice, Kimi Raikkonen slipped to fifth in qualifying and will start ahead of Max Verstappen on the third row of the grid. Nico Hulkenberg took seventh for Renault, which will be enough to secure his team sixth place in the constructors’ standings if he can maintain it throughout Sunday’s race and Toro Rosso fails to score.

The Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon were eighth and ninth ahead of Felipe Massa, who will start the final race of his career in tenth.

Fernando Alonso missed out on a place in Q3 by 0.071s to Massa after failing to improve on his second run in Q2. Massa’s lap was impressive and came right at the end of the session to snatch tenth place.

Carlos Sainz was 12th fastest — 0.587s slower than teammate Nico Hulkenberg — after complaining of a power delivery issue at the end of his quick lap in Q2. Stoffel Vandoorne will start 13th ahead of Kevin Magnussen, who qualified his Haas 14th with a lap 0.490s shy of the second McLaren.

Lance Stroll was over a second slower than his Williams teammate Massa in Q2, but is running an aging and under-powered engine after his planned race engine for the last two races was blown by gearbox issue during practice in Brazil.

Romain Grosjean missed out on a place in Q2 by 0.013s after a last-minute lap by Stroll, who, despite his issues, found a full second of lap time improvement over his practice pace. The two Toro Rosso drivers were split by the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, after both teams have struggled for pace throughout the weekend.

Source: ESPN Sports