Abu Dhabi looked to be happy hunting ground for Mercedes given the pace of Lewis Hamilton in Free Practice 2 but it was his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who had the ultimate pace on Saturday taking pole position.
Initial runs were tidy and set in the half light of a setting sun. Mercedes were straight to the top with Lewis Hamilton in front of teammate Valtteri Bottas. The Ferrari’s followed suit with Kimi Raikkonen leading teammate Sebastian Vettel. Mercedes and Ferrari set two flying laps on their initial run and Vettel and Bottas managed to revers their order to their teammates. Bottas’s lap set a new record.
With 6:30 minutes to play, both Haas F1 cars were comfortably in 10th and 11th but sank like a stone to the knockout line in 14th and 15th and at risk. The race in the Constructor’s Championship is down to a handful of points between Haas, Renault and Toro Rosso.
Grosjean failed to make it to Q2 and said he was struggling with pace and front-end balance. Both McLaren’s made it to Q2.
Out in Q1: Ericsson, Wehrlein, Gasly, Hartley, Grosjean
The session started with Lewis Hamilton complaining of fumes in his helmet from his garage. It didn’t seem to bother him too much as he set the initial time of 1:36.743s which was another lap record. Hamilton was followed by Bottas and a brace of Ferrari’s led by Vettel.
The final runs for Q2 started with Williams and as both were outside the top 10, they needed a good run. They were going to be challenged by both McLaren’s as well as both Renault’s for primacy.
In somewhat of a surprising result, Carlos Sainz failed to make it out of Q2 while his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, made it through. Both McLaren’s were out in Q2 with Felipe Massa’s Williams pushing Fernando Alonso out on the final lap. Massa’s teammate, Lance Stroll, wasn’t able to make it to Q3.
Out in Q2: Alonso, Vandoorne, Magnussen, Sainz, Stroll,
Initial runs seemed to be favoring Mercedes given their Q1 and Q2 results and the assumption was more shove and straight-line speed. Where Ferrari could find the pace to challenge Mercedes may come down to aero and chassis setup. They wanted pole because they’ve never had pole position in Abu Dhabi.
Bottas threw down a terrific lap which was +0.754s faster than Raikkonen, +0.628s faster than Vettel and +0.172s faster than his teammate Lewis Hamilton. The Red Bull’s reversed order with Max Verstappen finding the pace to get ahead of his teammate, Daniel Ricciardo for 5th and 6th.
With 3:45s to play, the cars came out for their final runs. An interesting radio message to Esteban Ocon to stay ahead of the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas as the Finn was behind the Frenchman as they started their out laps.
Hamilton couldn’t beat his teammate to poll and Bottas held on via his initial timed run with both Ferrari’s unable to improve. The Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo was able to leap ahead of Kimi Raikkonen to split the Ferraris.
|4||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m36.959s||0.728s|
|6||Max Verstappen||Red Bull/Renault||1m37.328s||1.097s|
|8||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m38.374s||2.143s|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Force India/Mercedes||1m38.397s||2.166s|
|17||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m39.724s||–|
|20||Brendon Hartley||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m40.471s||–|