Champ aims to finish with win
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.