Lewis Hamilton: Abu Dhabi Win for British world champion
Lewis Hamilton has ended the season in which he won a fifth world title with his 11th pole of the year at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Mercedes driver was 0.162 seconds ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas and 0.331secs ahead of erstwhile title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.
Kimi Raikkonen locked out the second row for Ferrari, ahead of the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.
“It was emotional because it is the last time in this car,” Hamilton said.
“The emotional rollercoaster I have been through with this car, I am probably closer to this car than any other. It has not been easy, it has been a struggle, but I am so grateful to the team for putting it all together for me.
“Today was so much fun, to be able to go out and express yourself was a great feeling.”
Hamilton has taken it as a point of pride this season to keep winning after clinching the championship, the first time he has done that in his career.
He was fortunate to take victory in Brazil two weeks ago, after leader Verstappen collided with a backmarker, but he wants to end what many believe has been his greatest season on a high
A nice ending of sorts for Alonso
Beyond the battle at the front, which is about little more than honour and a positive feeling going into the winter, the other focus of the weekend is McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who is bowing out of Formula 1 after this race.
The two-time champion had as good a qualifying session as could be expected in his difficult car, making it into the second knock-out session and 15th on the grid.
In the process, the Spaniard completed a whitewash of team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne in qualifying this season, the only driver to achieve it.
Alonso’s engineer Will Joseph described his lap, nearly 0.7secs quicker than Vandoorne’s, as “magic”. But the McLaren did not have the pace to do any more than be last in the second session.
McLaren have painted the car in a special livery reflecting Alonso, and he is wearing a unique helmet design and overalls for the occasion.
Split tyre strategies
The top six have split tyre strategies for the race.
Hamilton, Bottas and Vettel all chose to go through second qualifying on the more durable ultra-soft tyre for a better race strategy, but Raikkonen will be on the hyper-softs after Ferrari decided to split their choices.
Red Bull also ended up split, with Ricciardo on the ultra and Verstappen on the hyper, but only because of an unusually messy session for Verstappen.
The Dutchman’s ultra-soft run went awry in Q2 so he had to take the hyper. His first lap in the top 10 shoot-out was 0.188secs slower than Ricciardo’s and he aborted his second.
Haas’ Romain Grosjean took seventh, ahead of Sauber’s Charles Leclerc – who is moving to Ferrari to replace Raikkonen next season – Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.
What they said
Vettel said: “They looked very competitive all weekend. Qualifying it has been a bit up and down. Q2 was not representative. Lewis had a very strong lap on the ultra-soft. We tried everything and gave it everything we had.
“It was very close after the first run. I thought half a tenth was in reach. I was quite happy with the second lap but dropped back to third.