Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying: Lewis Hamilton on pole for F1 2018 finale
Hamilton heads Mercedes one-two, Vettel 0.3s back for Ferrari in third; Alonso beats Vandoorne 21-0 in qualifying; Sunday's race starts at 1.10pm, live on Sky Sports F1 and Sky One
By Matt Morlidge
Last Updated: 25/11/18 12:23pm
Lewis Hamilton will start the final race of the F1 2018 season from pole position after edging out Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas in Abu Dhabi GP qualifying.
The world champion was in fine form throughout the shootout under the Yas Marina lights, and beat Bottas by a tenth of a second with a blistering new track record on hypersoft tyres.
It is Hamilton's 11th pole of the season, and Mercedes' seventh front-row lockout.
"It's quite an emotional qualifying session for me because it's the last one with this car," said Hamilton, who beat his previous provisional pole benchmark by 0.5s on his final lap.
"I'm probably the closest I've been to a car. It's been an emotional rollercoaster. To go out there and push yourself, there's no better feeling."
Ferrari were Mercedes' closest challengers but Vettel finished 0.331s behind his perennial title rival, and he will be joined on the second row by Kimi Raikkonen, who was more than half a second off the pace.
Vettel will be disappointed he couldn't at least split the Mercedes with his last effort - he was a tenth up on Hamilton before losing a huge amount of time in the final sector.
"I improved but not enough to be a threat," admitted the German.
Red Bull, lacking power for the long Abu Dhabi straights, finished fifth and sixth, with Daniel Ricciardo beating Max Verstappen on a Saturday for only the fifth time this season.
The team, preparing for their final race with Renault engines, are optimistic that they can challenge Mercedes and Ferrari for the win on Sunday.
Verstappen a threat at the start?
There will be added intrigue at the start of the final grand prix of the season as Verstappen, the star performer in Mexico and Brazil, is set to begin the race on the faster, but less durable, hypersoft tyres.
Verstappen was forced into an aggressive strategy after failing to hook up a Q2 lap on ultrasoft tyres, though the rest of the top six will start on the harder compound.
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Following Verstappen on the grid will be Romain Grosjean, best of the rest in another strong qualifying session, and Charles Leclerc, the soon-to-be Ferrari driver who continues to dazzle.
Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg completed the top-10, but won't have free choice on tyres like the drivers just behind them.
What are the final qualifying scores?
|Mercedes||Lewis Hamilton||15-6||Valtteri Bottas|
|Ferrari||Sebastian Vettel||17-4||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Red Bull||Max Verstappen*||15-5||Daniel Ricciardo|
|Renault||Nico Hulkenberg||13-8||Carlos Sainz|
|Haas||Romain Grosjean**||11-8||Kevin Magnussen|
|McLaren||Fernando Alonso||21-0||Stoffel Vandoorne|
|Force India||Esteban Ocon||16-5||Sergio Perez|
|Toro Rosso||Pierre Gasly||13-6||Brendon Hartley**|
|Sauber||Charles Leclerc||17-4||Marcus Ericsson|
|Williams||Sergey Sirotkin||12-8||Lance Stroll*|
|* Missed 1 Qualy|
|**Missed 2 Qualys|
Alonso signs off with a blemish-free record
It's a shame not to see Fernando Alonso fighting towards the front of the grid on what is likely to be his last F1 weekend, but the two-time world champion certainly got the maximum out of his qualifying by dragging his McLaren into Q2.
By doing so, Alonso, who will start 15th, completed his Saturday whitewash over Stoffel Vandoorne - becoming the first driver to beat a team-mate in every qualifying session of the season since he dominated Nelson Piquet Jr at Renault 10 years ago.
Pierre Gasly will also have been expecting to make it through to the second portion of qualifying but appeared to suffer a reliability failure at the worst possible moment.
Gasly was up on the time he needed to progress on his final Q1 lap before smoke started to pour out of his Toro Rosso exhaust. He finished 17th, a place behind team-mate Brendon Hartley as both Honda-powered cars exited early.
Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying Timesheet
|1) Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||1:34.794|
|2) Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+0.162|
|3) Sebastian Vettel||Ferrari||+0.331|
|4) Kimi Raikkonen||Ferrari||+0.571|
|5) Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||+0.607|
|6) Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.795|
|7) Romain Grosjean||Haas||+1.398|
|8) Charles Leclerc||Sauber||+1.443|
|9) Esteban Ocon||Force India||+1.746|
|10) Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||+1.748|
|Out in Q2|
|11) Carlos Sainz||Renault||1:36.982|
|12) Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||1:37.132|
|13) Kevin Magnussen||Haas||1:37.309|
|14) Sergio Perez||Force India||1:37.541|
|15) Fernando Alonso||McLaren||1:37.743|
|Out in Q1|
|16) Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso||1:37.944|
|17) Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||1:38.166|
|18) Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||1:38.577|
|19) Sergey Sirotkin||Williams||1:38.635|
|20) Lance Stroll||Williams||1:38.682|
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