Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton ends pole drought with track record

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton will start in pole position after topping the qualification charts at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton topped the times in qualifying for the first time since Germany, nine races ago.   -  Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton claimed his first pole position in 10 grands prix as he topped the timesheets with a scintillating effort ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Hamilton had not secured pole since the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim but he set a new track record of one minute and 34.779 seconds at the Yas Marina Circuit.

His performance led a Mercedes one-two, though his team-mate Valtteri Bottas - who was 0.194s behind - will start from the back of the grid due to a penalty for going over the engine limit.

Max Verstappen will instead join Hamilton on the front row after he qualified in third for Red Bull, with his team-mate Alexander Albon classified in sixth.

READ| Bottas to start at back of the grid in Abu Dhabi

Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel were fourth and fifth in the classification and will share the second row, though their qualifying debrief will likely be dominated by discussion over the former not crossing the line in time for a final flying lap.

Vettel was ahead of Leclerc on the track but driving slowly, preventing the Monegasque a run at a potential spot on the front row.

"We are not going to make it - Seb is slowing down," Leclerc said over team radio in another unwelcome development for Ferrari as they attempt to manage the rivalry between their drivers.

Lando Norris was seventh for McLaren, producing a superior qualifying result to team-mate Carlos Sainz - who was ninth – to win their qualifying battle 11-10 for the season.

Renault's Daniel Ricciardo qualified eighth, with Nico Hulkenberg rounding off the provisional top 10 for the French team in his last race for the team. Racing Point's Sergio Perez was 11th and will move into the top 10 as a result of Bottas' penalty.

PROVISIONAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:34.779
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +0.194s [has grid penalty]
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +0.360s
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +0.440s
5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +0.560s
6. Alexander Albon (Red Bull) +0.903s
7. Lando Norris (McLaren) +1.657s
8. Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) +1.677s
9. Carlos Sainz (McLaren) +1.680s
10. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) +1.931s

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