Bottas out shines Hamilton for Abu Dhabi GP pole

Valtteri Bottas beat Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to secure pole position on Saturday in qualifying for the F1 2017 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Bottas and Hamilton were quickest throughout qualifying, with the former setting the pace in Q1 and the latter best in Q2. However, in the all-important top-ten shootout with darkness descending and the circuit lit up, it was Bottas that took first blood with a 1 minute 36.231 second lap, 0.172secs up on Hamilton. Bottas then abandoned his final lap when he knew it was slower, and while Hamilton went quickest in the first sector on his last tour, a mistake in the final corner cost him.

It was Bottas’ second pole in as many races and his fourth of the season.

“Today things were getting better and better for me during the practice session and also in quali. I just managed to find time here and there and it was all under control and just felt very good in the car,” Bottas said.

“The Q1 lap 1 run was very good and that was enough for pole and so I am really happy.”

Quizzed on if he can get the job done on Sunday, he replied: “I was so gutted in Brazil in the last race: Being on pole and missing out on the win. So I have a clear target for tomorrow.”

“What a lap [from Valtteri]!” Hamilton added. “He just had an incredible qualifying and congratulations to him.

“The last qualifying of the year, I gave it everything, but I think I lost a little bit of pace going into qualifying. It was just little bits here and there. I was up I think a tenth and a half in Turn 1 [on my final run in Q3] and then I lost it.

“Either way, though, it has been an incredible year of qualifying and one I have really enjoyed. [As I said] Valtteri did an exceptional job and I am really happy for him.”

Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel was third for the Scuderia, albeit just over half a second off pole position.

“I think it was a good session. Obviously a bit of a shame to be that far back, but tomorrow on race pace we can be a bit closer. They [Mercedes] have been very strong and Valtteri had a mega lap, so congrats to him,” Vettel noted. “Let’s see now. It should be a fun race. Overtaking is not always straight forward but not impossible here.”

Daniel Ricciardo will start alongside his former team-mate on the second row, a late flier putting him ahead of both Kimi Raikkonen in the other Ferrari and the sister Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Ricciardo wound up 0.026secs up on Raikkonen and just over three tenths up on Verstappen.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was ‘best of the rest’ in seventh – a full second behind Verstappen and 2secs shy of pole, while the Force India’s of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon finished up eighth and ninth, 0.023secs the difference.

Veteran Felipe Massa qualified tenth for Williams ahead of his final F1 race, sneaking into the shootout when he edged out Fernando Alonso in Q2 by 0.071secs. Alonso will start 11th for McLaren-Honda.

Renault’s Carlos Sainz also went out in the second session and will line-up 12th – hindered by suspected engine issues – with the second McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne 13th ahead of Haas F1’s Kevin Magnussen in 14th and Williams’ Lance Stroll in 15th.

In Q1, Romain Grosjean was pushed into the drop zone right at the end when Stroll improved, beating the Haas man by a slender 0.013secs. Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly was next up in P17 with the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson 18th and 19th, split by just 0.064secs. Brendon Hartley was slowest in his Toro Rosso – but with a 10-place penalty for power unit changes was always set to start at the back.

Full qualifying times available – HERE.

Picture credit: Mercedes

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