L was Lewis Hamilton's 88th career -Pole have to wait. The record holder has not been able to set the fastest lap in qualifying since the German GP. Until the GP Abu Dhabi. On Saturday evening, under floodlights, the world champion relegated the competition to the other places and grabbed the pole in the emirate for the fifth time.
Hamilton determined the qualifying for all knockout laps. In the third section, the six-time title holder distanced his teammate by almost two tenths with a lap time of 1: 34.779 minutes. “It didn't work yesterday. I had to rearrange myself. It's worked out. Today I felt much more comfortable in the car, ”explained Hamilton afterwards. Valtteri Bottas cannot be happy about second place. An engine penalty throws the Finn from the front row down to the last place.
Max Verstappen is the first to benefit from this. Red Bull couldn't quite keep up with the Silver Arrows on one lap. Verstappen lost 0.360 seconds. This makes Hamilton the clear favorite to win the race. Mercedes had also determined the long runs on Friday. “We couldn't have done better today. Mercedes is too fast here. But I think that we could have a few opportunities in the race, although Mercedes will be very fast there too, ”said Verstappen.
Ferrari played no role. Charles Leclerc decided the team-internal duel against Sebastian Vettel for himself. Nevertheless the Monegasse was annoyed. On the one hand, there is a car that clearly lags behind the competition in the last sector with its many corners. On the other hand, through his strategists, who refused him a second attempt in Q3. Ferrari sent Leclerc out too late.
Sebastian Vettel started qualifying in the first round with a spin in the target curve, but luckily he didn't hit the wall. In Q3 the Heppenheimer and his team mate lacked speed. “The backlog was not unexpected. It's a long lap here and there are lots of slow and medium-speed corners. That hasn't been our forte all year, ”said the Ferrari driver.
As the only driver in one of the three top cars, Vettel starts the race on the softest tire. His rivals start on the medium. “The thought behind the soft tires at the start was just something elsethan the others. ”
Alexander Albon lost nine tenths of a second on pole time and over half a second on his team-mate. So the sixth fastest lap of the day came out. McLaren prevailed behind in a duel with Renault. Lando Norris was the fastest man in midfield, followed by Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Nico Hülkenberg. For the 2015 Le Mans winner, it was the last qualifying in Formula 1 for the time being.
Perez misses Q3
In the third training session, Sergio Perez was still leading the midfield. In qualifying on Saturday evening, the Mexican slipped back. It wasn't even enough for the third part of the qualification. For that, Perez would have had to drive two tenths faster. After all, the Racing Point driver is the first driver to have a free choice of tires at the start. By relocating Bottas, Perez moves up to fifth row next to Hülkenberg.
As so often, the 29-year-old decided the qualifying duel against Lance Stroll. The Canadian posted the 13th fastest lap. A consolation for Racing Point: Alfa Romeo does not seem to be in danger in the fight for seventh place in the championship.
For both Toro Rosso, Q2 was the final destination. Pierre Gasly cursed on the radio and had to be censored by the director. The former Red Bull driver took 12th place. Things looked even more promising for Toro Rosso after practice. The team is fighting for fifth place in the team championship with Renault, but the starting position is bad. Toro Rosso is eight points behind and starts from further back.
Weak weekend for Alfa
Haas experienced a disappointing qualifying after good practice sessions. Kevin Magnussen won a place in Q2, but was the slowest driver. Romain Grosjean's crash also followed a strong training Friday. After the collision with Valtteri Bottas, the Frenchman had to drive with an old underbody. As a result, the speed was lost. The Haas driver missed the climb in Q1 by three tenths of a second. Grosjean almost spun in the pit lane like at Silverstone because Daniil Kvyat was right in front of him and he had to avoid it. The stewards are investigating the incident after qualifying.
After the interim high in Sao Paulo, Alfa Romeo in Abu Dhabi also experienced one of the weakest weekends of the year. It was already indicated in the training sessions that all midfield teams except Williams are faster. In the qualification, the cars from Hinwil could not improve significantly. Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen climbed out of their cars after the first 18 minutes. As in all previous races, none of the Williams drivers made it into the second run. George Russell kept his clean slate. The Englishman won the team-internal duel against Robert Kubica for the 21st time in a row