Lewis Hamilton beaten to Abu Dhabi pole by Valtteri Bottas

Formula 1


Valtteri Bottas beat world champion Lewis Hamilton to pole position at the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Finn was 0.172 seconds quicker than Hamilton as the two Mercedes dominated qualifying – Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was 0.546s off the pace in third.

Bottas set the pace on the first runs, but Hamilton appeared set to displace him only to lose out in the final part of his last lap and fail to improve.

Hamilton wrapped up his fourth world drivers’ title in Mexico last month.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo pipped Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen to take fourth place.

Sunday’s race is live on the BBC Sport website and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra at 13:00 GMT.

Nico Rosberg: How to beat Lewis Hamilton to the title

More than pride at stake

Hamilton and Vettel both came to Abu Dhabi saying they wanted to end the season on a high, for slightly different reasons.

Hamilton wants to prevent Vettel ending the season with two wins. And Vettel wants a positive end to a season which promised so much for the German only for Ferrari’s challenge to implode in September and October.

But, if they are to win on Sunday, they will now have to fight their way past Bottas.

“It was a very clean session and I managed to find time every run,” Bottas said. “The car was feeling much better than any point of the weekend and that allowed me to work on the details.”

The Briton wore a gold helmet to celebrate his achievement, which makes him the joint third most decorated F1 driver of all time

Hamilton ‘gave it everything’

Hamilton praised Bottas’ effort in beating the two former title rivals.

“What a lap,” Hamilton said. “He had an incredible qualifying. Congratulations to him. It was the last qualifying of the year and I gave it everything.

“Ultimately winning the championship is the one. Now it is about trying to finish on a high. Having a one-two is great and that’s the goal. If we are able to finish minimum where we’re starting, it’s going to be a good result.”

Hamilton was on course to pip Bottas by a few thousandths of a second after two thirds of his final lap but he could not improve in the twisty final sector and actually ended up going fractionally slower than his first attempt.

Bottas also failed to improve on his final run as the track cooled as night drew in during this twilight session.

It was Bottas’ fourth pole in 2017 and he said it “could be” his best qualifying of the year. “It felt like everything was under control and not very often this year I have had that feeling.”

Vettel did take a step forward but had no answer to the pace of the Mercedes. He said he believed he would be more competitive in the race but admitted Mercedes had been “very fast” at the Yas Marina circuit.

“Valtteri did a very good job, a great lap he put in,” Vettel said. “I was thinking we could be closer but we were not. In the race, I hope we are and hopefully we can put them under pressure.”

Marcus Mumford from the band Mumford & Sons came along to watch qualifying unfold

Millions still to fight for

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praised Ricciardo’s lap as one of the best of his season as the Australian lapped 0.728secs off pole to beat Raikkonen by 0.026secs.

The second Red Bull of Max Verstappen, who has out-qualified Ricciardo 13 times in 20 races this season, was 0.369secs behind in sixth place.

Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg was seventh, ahead of the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, again separated by a tiny margin which this weekend was just 0.023secs.

When Froome and Rosberg met in Monaco

Williams’ Felipe Massa continued his strong end to his final season before retirement with 10th place, ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, the second Renault of Carlos Sainz and Alonso’s team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.

Hulkenberg’s position gives Renault a great chance to overhaul Toro Rosso for sixth place in the championship – and with it several million pounds in prize money. Renault head into the race just four points adrift of the Red Bull junior team, with Haas two points behind the car manufacturer.

Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean will start 14th and 16th, while Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly was 17th and his team-mate Brendon Hartley 20th and last, with a 10-place grid penalty for his efforts.

F1 prepares to say goodbye to Felipe Massa after 17 years
Sparks could fly further down the grid this weekend, as the midfield teams battle for several million pounds in prize money



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