Champ aims to fin­ish with win

Sunday Sun - - Motorsport -

Lewis Hamil­ton in the Pit­lane dur­ing qual­i­fy­ing for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit LEWIS Hamil­ton has vowed to throw ev­ery­thing at to­day’s sea­son fi­nale in Abu Dhabi de­spite ad­mit­ting he was beaten by the bet­ter man af­ter Valt­teri Bot­tas stormed to pole po­si­tion.

Bot­tas will start from the front of the pack for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive grand prix af­ter he edged out Hamil­ton in qual­i­fy­ing un­der the flood­lights of the Yas Ma­rina cir­cuit.

World cham­pion Hamil­ton has been in omi­nous form for much of the week­end here and was on course to seal pole po­si­tion only for a scruffy end­ing to his fi­nal lap which in­cluded him run­ning wide at the last cor­ner.

Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, who ended his seven-race win­less streak af­ter he passed Bot­tas with a gutsy move at the open­ing cor­ner in Brazil a fort­night ago, was a dis­tant third some half-a-sec­ond off the pace. Red Bull driver Daniel Ric­cia­rdo starts Sun­day’s race from fourth.

Hamil­ton may have made his­tory by be­com­ing the first Bri­tish driver to win the world cham­pi­onship on more than three oc­ca­sions at last month’s Mex­i­can Grand Prix, but the Mercedes driver promised not to take his foot off the ac­cel­er­a­tor in the fi­nal miles of his ti­tle-win­ning year.

But af­ter post­ing a lap 0.172 sec­onds slower than Bot­tas, he will have to pass his team-mate to end the sea­son on a high with his 10th vic­tory of the cam­paign.

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to Valt­teri, he did a fan­tas­tic job in qual­i­fy­ing,” Hamil­ton said. “It’s good to see him per­form­ing at this level, par­tic­u­larly at the end of the sea­son which puts Valt­teri Bot­tas smiles to his Mercedes team­mate Lewis Hamil­ton him into a great po­si­tion for next year. For me, prac­tice was great. Then I made some changes in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the track cool­ing which I think were not the right ones in hind­sight. But it was good to ex­per­i­ment a lit­tle which I hadn’t re­ally done all year long.

“In the end I was up by about a tenth and a half out of turn one, but then I lost it some­where else through the rest of the lap.

“Nonethe­less, it was fun to be out there, chal­leng­ing in the last qual­i­fy­ing of the year. Now we can get on with the race to­mor­row. It’s a very hard track to over­take, but I will give it ev­ery­thing for sure.”

Bot­tas has been out­classed by Hamil­ton for much of his de­but sea­son at Mercedes, par­tic­u­larly strug­gling in the sec­ond half of the cam­paign.

As such, he will start to­day’s sea­son fi­nale des­per­ate for a morale­boost­ing win – his first since the Aus­trian Grand Prix in July – and keen to make amends af­ter los­ing out from pole at In­ter­la­gos.

“I was gut­ted in Brazil af­ter be­ing on pole and miss­ing out on the win so I have got a clear tar­get for to­mor­row,” Bot­tas said.

“Of course you need to en­joy the good feel­ing, but to­mor­row is the day that counts.”

Kimi Raikko­nen is fifth for Fer­rari ahead of Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen.

Felipe Massa, who is set to start his 269th and fi­nal race ahead of his im­mi­nent re­tire­ment from the sport, squeezed into the fi­nal phase of qual­i­fy­ing. The veteran Brazil­ian lines up 10th, with his for­mer Fer­rari team-mate Fer­nando Alonso one spot fur­ther back.

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