F1 Winter Break
Hamilton leads record-breaking all-Mercedes front row for Abu Dhabi F1 GP
Posted By: Editor   |  24 Nov 2018   |  3:17 pm GMT  |  117 comments

With Mercedes F1 looking to finish their double-championship-winning campaign with a flourish, Lewis Hamilton took his eleventh pole position of the season to head an all-Mercedes front row at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Out-pacing team-mate Valtteri Bottas to the tune of 0.162 of a second, Hamilton will lead Mercedes’ fifth consecutive Abu Dhabi front-row lockout in a row, breaking the Formula One record for most consecutive front-row lockouts at the same venue.

Both Ferrari and Red Bull looked to be a threat to Mercedes, but their nearest challenger, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, fell three tenths short in the contest for pole position.

“I’ll never say that it was a perfect lap, but the first lap wasn’t spectacular,” admitted Hamilton after qualifying. “There was a couple of excursions and a bit of movement on the rear end. The last one… it started off kind of calm, and then I just got more and more aggressive as I went through.

“The last sector was the killer for me, that’s where I was really able to make the difference. When I came round I think I was four tenths up, so that’s not easy to do from one lap to another, so I’m truly grateful for that.

“I’m so grateful for all the support we have here. It’s quite an emotional qualifying session for me because it’ll be the last time I ever qualify in this car and, I know you guys watch it, the emotional roller-coaster I’ve gone through with this car…I’m probably the closest I’ve been to this car than any other car.”

Kimi Raikkonen qualified fourth in his final race for Ferrari, whilst Daniel Ricciardo will begin his bid for a final Red Bull podium from fifth on the grid, ahead of team-mate Max Verstappen, who will be the only driver in the top six to start on the hypersoft tyres. Haas’ Romain Grosjean secured the midfield qualifying honours for the final race of 2018.

Qualifying Session One

Despite Hamilton topping the final free practice session, Ferrari whetted the appetite for a Ferrari vs Mercedes qualifying shootout by heading their first session of the weekend with Sebastian Vettel.

In FP3, Daniel Ricciardo was forced to pull over with a water pressure issue but, fortunately for the Australian, it appeared to be having no knock-on problems in his final qualifying session for Red Bull.

At the foot of the standings, neither Williams driver could drag their cars off the back row of the grid, with Sergey Sirotkin in nineteenth and Lance Stroll in twentieth.

Stoffel Vandoorne qualified eighteenth for his final race for McLaren, whilst the two Toro Rossos were narrowly eliminated in Q1.

Brendon Hartley in sixteenth out-qualified Pierre Gasly, but the Frenchman had to stop his car due to power unit issues, which appeared to be occurring in the final corners of his flying lap.

Qualifying Session Two

With the ultrasoft tyre considered to be the more favourable race tyre, all of the top six drivers attempted to qualify on the ultrasofts instead of the hypersofts.

Any fears of the tyre not being quick enough were put to bed when Hamilton delivered the fastest time of the weekend so far; a 1:35.693. However, Verstappen’s first flying lap was only good enough for tenth, so he was forced to run again, albeit this time on the hypersofts tyres. His lap time improvement means he’s the only driver in the top six who will start on the hypersoft tyre.

Force India also took a chance on the ultrasoft tyres, but their challenge for the top ten fell a few tenths short and they elected to run the hypersofts for their final laps.

Narrowly missing out – but with a free choice of tyres for the race – was Renault’s Carlos Sainz. He was joined on the sidelines by Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen, Perez, and Fernando Alonso, who qualified fifteenth in his final race in Formula One.

Qualifying Session Three

With drivers turning their cars up to the maximum qualifying modes for one last time in 2018, the top six were separated by just three tenths of a second after the first flying laps.

Lewis Hamilton led the first stints despite minor errors, narrowly ahead of Vettel, Bottas and Ricciardo.

However, the Briton saved his best lap for last; completing a much tidier tour of the circuit, he delivered a stellar final sector to set a 1:34.794 and take his eleventh pole position of the season.

Valtteri Bottas went purple in the second sector, but fell less than two tenths short and had to settle for second place, but this allowed Mercedes to continue their Abu Dhabi qualifying domination.

Sebastian Vettel was the fastest man in the first sector on both runs, but couldn’t keep up the pace over the remainder of the lap and finished in third, three tenths away from pole and ahead of team-mate Raikkonen.

Ricciardo had the final qualifying bragging rights over Verstappen after beating the other Red Bull to fifth place by just over one tenth of a second.

Romain Grosjean led the midfield, with Sauber’s Charles Leclerc, Force India’s Esteban Ocon and Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg completing the top ten for the Abu Dhabi race.

1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m34.794s
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m34.956s 0.162s
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m35.125s 0.331s
4 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1m35.365s 0.571s
5 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1m35.401s 0.607s
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 1m35.589s 0.795s
7 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1m36.192s 1.398s
8 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari 1m36.237s 1.443s
9 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1m36.540s 1.746s
10 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m36.542s 1.748s
11 Carlos Sainz Renault 1m36.982s
12 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m37.32s
13 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1m37.309s
14 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1m37.541s
15 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1m37.743s
16 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m37.994s
17 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 1m38.166s
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault 1m38.577s
19 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 1m38.635s
20 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 1m38.682s

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

What are your predictions for the final race of 2018 in Abu Dhabi? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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nice article


@kenneth, nonsense! This article was refreshed half an hour before the race so ample time for all of us to discuss matters before the race actually begins. What is with you?


@ Lemwil…I presume that your pathetic response will be to copy all the other posters, that echo my sentiments, directly? Or will you chicken out…..


@kenneth – Same question to you as to BKF: did you actually, really, no REALLY believe I thought it was doable to generate let alone handle all those mails in 30 mins? Course not… My post was dripping with sarcasm, actually criticising the site. Fooling around with you a bit, appearing to disagree with you, which I wasn’t.
[The reverse is possible too, criticising or mocking some person/party by appearing to agree. Works a peach.]


@ lemwil….A wet response. Called out and found wanting!! You meant every word so don’t try the ‘chicken run’ it’s too obvious’.



I never resort to chicken runs. Here, incredibly I had to resort to explaining the bleeding obvious, i.e. at the same time nagging you and ventilating my anger about the site.


Lemwill assume you are on a different time warp to the rest of the globe. It had only had 0 posts updates for what seemed to be a millenia.
It was refreshed as you believe pre race. What can be discussed? Nothing. The race is about to start. It seems JAF1 is slowly being put on Ice. So everyone is forced to go on Motorsport website.


@BK, You TOTALLY missed my sarcasm, directed over kenneths back to the editors. I only appeared to scorn kenneth, actually I agreed with him of course. The post was meant as a reply to kenneths complaint but I guess I misplaced it. And since you don’t get the inverting trick, let me spell it out for you:
– I had indeed noticed the article had just a few posts, status unaltered for about a day
– this changed 30 mins or so before race begin, so utterly too late for any discussion
– like the rest of you in this time warp: that is irritating!
– so when I write that’s ample time that’s pretty thick and obvious sarcasm.
– used apparent conflict with kenneth to really address the editor. Kenneth and I do not agree very often but here appearances deceive…


@BKF Maybe a change of title! How about ‘JAused2bonF1’. As for paying a subscription to any F1 news service, well, i can afford to but i will not on principle.


Yep Kenneth it’s amazing how slow and old it seems now. Only a year back it was pulling high. The likes of Random 79 and all the others have just departed.
I can see us playing the violin Kenneth as it sinks…(now that it’s hit the Msport Ice Berg). Keep Calm and Sink with dignity.

Lemwil I apologise for me missing the sarcasm 😁 This is the 3rd time I’ve missed the sarcasm boat . Did the same with Andrew M. Think I need to watch a few Alan B#st#rd (Rik Mayal as a Tory Boy MP) episodes to get my sarcasm detector levels topped up.
What did you think to Red Bulls strategy regarding Ricci. Was it a blatant attempt for them to leave him behind Max?


Fair point Kenneth regarding Lemwill.
The Red Bull strategy left me with that Dr.Marko enabled lead driver up front and leaving driver behind ethos. Give the leaving driver a few moments leading the GP and then bring him in for a pit stop. By that time plenty of rubber on track lessen tyre wear and lighter fuel car, so limited chance of attacking lead team driver. They kept Ricci out too late for any chance of attacking Max.
We’re they worried about a team tangle and double DNF ?
Or was this a Marko Dr Evil mode “bye bye Ricci send off?”
Assuming they wanted Max on Podium rather than Ricci.


@ BKF….I have read your comments re Lemwil , don’t be fooled by his response. He meant what he posted. As for Ricciardo’s last race result…well, i’m not too sure. Something radical went wrong. After he put his new boots on he reduced the gap from about 8 secs to around 1.2 secs then he just settled in. Now either he took too much out of his tyres getting there, which i find hard to imagine or else he was told not to challenge!! It wouldn’t surprise me if there was some pre race agreement that whoever lead as a certain point would not be challenged. I really don’t know what went wrong. Ricciardo said that he didn’t have ‘pace’… whatever that was supposed to mean?


Has the site finally collapsed?


Kenneth it’s going down a river of pain.
Oh well assume it was a mega financial offer to James (which is fair enough);. But they need to change the name. As James website interaction was instant or every few hours updated.
It’s being scuttled slowly.


It was all in the past, now. JA has bigger fish to fry…the way of the world.


Seems that way Kenneth😳

What was once the pride and joy of Mr JA, has been turned over to a bigger concern, and we are now just a side thought, gathering cobwebs in the corner of the Motorsport.com warehouse. Sad really, after James said that nothing would change.


James k
When someone says nothing will change.
100% chance of change. It’s the Golden Hex of extinction in business. Strip dpwn assets and choke the river to a tiny trickle.
Slow death roll of JAF1 💀
I’m waiting for the resuscitation team in A&E to call the Time of Death 😱.
Reckon new tax year 2019. Flatline📉 & tumbleweed and a icy wind to follow.


@James K….Yes, it would appear so. Pity really. This site, when i first joined, was a revelation. It was simply the best. Now ? well i’ll leave that conjecture for others to make. I know where i stand.


Apparently it’s now being run by SV Corp.


Might as well be run by pigeon post James T. Probably be a lot quicker.
Unless it’s the famous pigeon called Speckled Jim, he was eaten by Captain BlackAdder.


Just go to motorsport.com already and stop making them do extra work here.

…barely any ad revenue being generated here. 🙂


I dont like that site…cut and paste journalism…everything is a breaking news


Agreed cut and paste and incoherent ramblings with flashing pop up ads that infuriate.
It’s about time we heard from JAMES ALLEN ! We loved this website but it’s tanking now.
The great leader is missing ?
Has anyone seen him ?
Do they only let him out to do race strategy report?
Have they locked him in a Motorsport office with a endless supply of bubble wrap .
All you can hear is a popping sound. Whenever a pop up ad, pops up on the Motor sport website, an alarm goes off and James pops a bubble.😉
Welcome to the Matrix !!


The only point of discussion appears to be, will Bottas finally get his win or will Hamilton deny him? I’ve got two things to say about that.

Firstly, it’s not in HAM’s interest to see Bottas win, let alone allow him to take victory. Not that it will worry Lewis too much but a Bottas win will spur the Finn confidently into next year where he just might have as good a start to the season as this year. In 2018 he was terribly unlucky early on, in 2019 he might not be. With Ferrari and possibly Red Bull challenges mounting it will be a nuissance for Lewis if he has to deal with a proud teammate as well. Better to keep Bottas in his current subdued state, just grateful to be allowed his seat. You can tell how eager and desperate he is. That desire must be denied, so Lewis should really race.

Secondly, P6 notwithstanding Max will again have something to say in the outcome. He was hugely dissatisfied with his setup on Saturday and ending only 6th which is not a great starting position in Abu Dhabi. In addition, starting on hypers does not seem promising. However, he can take confidence from RB’s race pace in FP2. It was the best of the pack, just like Brazil (where tyre management admittedly played a big role too). Despite the car’s great pace I can’t see Ricciardo passing too many front runners. But on hypers Max will probably pick up 2 places in the first laps. He’ll be the first to have to box but provided most of the midfield are 20s behind by then he’ll be able to close in on the top cars. If the cars in positions 3 and 4 (the two Ferraris probably) rejoin the field behind Max this thing ain’t over. If Lewis has a bad day or chooses to please Valtteri, Max will be the only driver left to deny Bottas his win.


Good qually session and congrats to ham/bottas/merc from breaking more records. Felt it for bottas though as I was hoping he got the pole. So close. Concerned we won’t be seeing him in f1 after 2019 if he doesn’t find some way to bring it to Hamilton next year. It’s going to be a very demoralising career otherwise. My ideal podium for today is still Bottas/Kimi/Riccardo. Wishful thinking but make it happen guys!


Hey Max, it’s not that hard. If you want your team to have everything perfect, and the correct temperature before they put them on your car for qualy, all you need to do is shout louder over the mic, so that it distorts and the crew will jump and hey presto, you’ve got the right temps after. Also, it will tell them who’s boss. By using more colourful language it will get through to them quicker that you’re the man abd can’t stuff you around. If that doesn’t work you should think about shubbing one of the pit crew as you get out of the car. And if that doesn’t work make sure a TV camera is looking your way and head butt someone in the team. That SHOULD make the point. The Team just can’t stuff you around, specially in qualy. Honestly… …. 🤔😑

Leclerc in 7th at qualy. Wow! Can’t wait for next year!


Mercedes 84th pole from 100 race weekends in the Hybrid era. The other 16 are shared by Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams (Austria 2014).

Amazing stats but I’m not sure anyone can claim Ferrari had the fastest car this year.


We took Hamilton out of the equation, in a previous thread, and it turned the qualifying score on its head. Where Mercedes had a 10-5 advantage at the time, it became 5-10 without Hamilton.

I’ll do an update when I have time.


Amazing that Hamilton began and finished the long 21 race race season calendar with scintillating, near perfection pole setting laps; Albert Park, Australia and now Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi. Just brilliant!


Just another day in F1 business. Good luck to all, hopefully it won’t be another snoozefest.


Pole 83. Zee hammer hasn’t stopped pounding. 🙂
Gone are the notions lewis letting up after winning a championship. Only here for the winning boys!! #teamlh


Don’t think that win will be gifted to Bottas, for many reasons

But if that would happen, how cool would it be to say no thanks, but that doesn’t make real sense either.

So yes he is in a no win situation really.

And if he wins on merit, we know how the talk would be ilke then anyway


Getting used to Mercedes in top!

Has been so in recent years, the question is, when will it be about the driver?


Hamilton’s PU fails.
Bottas wins.


feel another merc snorefest coming up


Get in there Lewis! sweet lap, are we not watching history being made. Nice laps from Daniel, Romain, Charles and Esteban. If Lewis’ engine holds together he is definitely my favorite for the win. With so many changes in the driver line up for next year, and the extraordinary 2018 season, can’t wait for 2019.


In his interview with David Coulthard immediately after the session, Hamilton made the comments quoted above and went on to say that it had been a privilege to work and race with Bottas and Vettel. He shook hands with them and then with the Ferrari crew and those tending his car and Valtteri’s.
Bottas has remarked before that he would not appreciate a gifted win and I hope that no on track or behind the scenes shenanikins takes place.
I think that he is correctly placed in this team and should stay where he is. It’s not his fault that his team mate is on such good form or that Mercedes are so strong. If they weren’t they would need his points more and that would lead to him winning races since team orders would be more difficult to arrange.


Another master class from greatest driver ever on a Saturday. His speed and focus under pressure is just phenomenal. It’s another stain on the British public that he isn’t appreciated as he should be by his own countrymen. A true phenomenon that deserves better support from his homeland.
Anyway…points handed out on a Sunday. He wil be right in the mix as always.
Leclerc… Im not one for conspiracies but I’m almost certain Ferrari have allowed Sauber to give him full beans on that engine. A fantastic driver that is going to cause VET all sorts of problems but the times he was pulling in sector 1 and 2 ( where power is most important) were fantastic. Not somethings he’s done before his ferrari drive was confirmed.


Congratulations go to the Mercedes “Qually Engine Party Mode Cheat Boost”

“Killing F1 competition since 2014.”

Waken up Brawn, it’s like allowing Adrian Newey to sick a blown double diffuser on the Red Bull for qually.

Well done for another easy front row lockout.

Imagine the racing, not the managed “racing”, that could have been these past 5 years, without these party engine modes.

Imagine the extra value added to those vicories and championships 😉

Q1 Lewis over radio, where’s the time to the Ferrari?

Q1 Merc managed strategist to Lewis – ignore it they are using their fast engine mode (whereas we haven’t even started turning up our party mode).

Q1 gap Mercedes to Renault – 0.7s

Q2 gap Mercedes to Renault – 1s

Q3 gap Mercedes to Renault – 1.7s

Q1 gap Mercedes to McLaren – 1s

Q2 gap Mercedes to McLaren – over 2s even with Merc on slower tyres!

Merc don’t even need their extra boost modes, they clearly have the better all round car, better aero and far better at directional changes.

Ferrari may have matched or even beaten the engine speeds but have more all round weaknesses and are behind the Mercedes car overall.

Both Ferraris were an underseering mess in the final sector, not turning into the corners compared to the “on-rails” Bottas and Lewis. Wonder if Ferrari also tend to run less overall wing than Merc.

Great laps from Rom Gro surprisingly, also from Alonso in Q1.

Saubers look great! Should please Kimi!


@C4WD, how ever did we miss the gap between redbull and renault at a staggering 1.1s. Why on earth would renault give a customer extra quali modes normally reserved for the works team. Especially one that slags them off at every given opportunity.


Because they are obliged to. Rugulations say same PU/same software for customers. And to put your words around. Please me or you do not get the best material; That is the reason RB and Ron Dennis want to be a works team.


Clarks, if your theory about the Merc being the better car overall, and having a far superior quali mode to the Ferrari is true, then why didn’t they get 21 poles instead of 12?


How is it cheating again?


I think if Lewis and Bottas are running 1st and 2nd on the last lap, they may switch places to give Bottas the win.


Congratulations to Lewis, he was really on it wasn’t he? Vettel was giving it plenty as well, but this track has always suited the Merc, apparently Dan was going well, but apparently we weren’t interested in seeing any if his lap!

Will they switch the Mercs to give Valtteri his win back? I doubt they will, he can try again next year.

Charlie in p8? Great job from him, really, really looking forward to seeing him next year.


The top 6 will be way out in front again with the likes of Leclerc/RG / Ocon/Hulk and co fighting it out for 7th -10th . Don’t know why but I think Vettel is a due a win on Sunday . Kimi and Daniel look as though they are looking forward to their team moves. Let’s hope it’s a good season send off.


“Warriors are not the ones who win

but the ones who fight”

Yes, we all thought the samurai and author of this pearl of wisdom was leaving. But no, he has a ‘pitwall role’ with McLaren next year…. Maybe the year after??


Congrats to LH on win number 11 of the season on Sunday.


Lewis has been irresistible for the second half of the season. The closest thing to perfection I have seen in over 40 years watching f1.


haha thats funny


Like going off track in Mexico, being gifted a win in Russia, going off track against Verstappen in USA. I’m not bashing Hamilton, instead like to take disagreement with views like these that are with complete favouritism to any driver without realistic look at any happenings on track.


James, fluffy said Lewis’ driving was close to perfection, not perfect. Those two rather minor driving errors pale into insignificance when compared to the repeated clangers dropped by his main rival don’t they?

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