Abu Dhabi GP: Hamilton storms to final pole of 2019 in qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton continued his remarkable qualifying record at Yas Marina by claiming his fifth pole in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

The Briton dominated the session under the lights as Valtteri Bottas completed a Mercedes 1-2, but it will be Max Verstappen lining up alongside the world champion on the front row.

Q1

At the front, the two Mercedes' led the way with Hamilton three-tenths clear of Bottas, as they were the only front runners to go for a second run.

The top three teams comfortably made it through in the top-six places, though Sebastian Vettel would have to regroup after spinning coming into the pit straight to start his first timed lap.

At the other end of the grid, Haas and Alfa Romeo were in a battle to avoid elimination but only Kevin Magnussen of the four drivers would make it through.

The Dane's teammate Romain Grosjean would finish 16th and also be involved in an unsafe release as he had to take evasive action to avoid Daniil Kvyat exiting his garage.

Antonio Giovinazzi would have the edge on Kimi Raikkonen at Alfa Romeo in 17th and 18th as George Russell and Robert Kubica, likely in his last F1 qualifying, brought up the grid in the two Williams.

Q2

The top three teams split tyre strategy initially, with Mercedes and Red Bull choosing the medium compound to start the race and Ferrari the soft rubber.

But Leclerc would join the others on medium and go faster than his first run to be on the same strategy, leaving Vettel as the only top-six runner on soft.

In the fight to make the top 10, Nico Hulkenberg left it until the very last moment to knock Sergio Perez down to 11th in the Racing Point.

Pierre Gasly's chances of sixth in the Drivers' standings received a blow in 12th as he became the meat in a pink sandwich with Lance Stroll 13th.

Kvyat and Magnussen completed the top 15.

Q3

Hamilton led by three tenths after the first run as the only driver to break into the 1m34s bracket.

Verstappen, Bottas and Leclerc were covered by just 0.08s in P2-P4 with Vettel half a second off the provisional pole time in fifth.

The final flying laps of 2019 began with disaster for Leclerc who failed to reach the start/finish line in time to start his lap.

Ultimately, though there'd be no stopping Hamilton who improved fractionally to post a 1m34.828s and claim pole with Bottas giving Mercedes their sixth straight 1-2 in qualifying in Abu Dhabi.

Of course, the only caveat is the Finn will start from the back of the grid after taking a new engine for this weekend.

That promotes Verstappen back onto the front row with Leclerc third and Vettel fourth and Albon rounding out the top five.

In the midfield, Lando Norris secured the qualifying head-to-head 11-10 over McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz by finishing 'best of the rest in seventh.

Daniel Ricciardo had one shot in Q3 and made it count to finish eighth ahead of Sainz in ninth and Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10.

 Full results from qualifying at Yas Marina can be seen below: (Note, all drivers except Hamilton move up one place after Bottas penalty)

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