Lewis Hamilton secured the eighty-eighth career pole position of his impressive career on Saturday as he took top spot in Qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a new track record.
Remarkably, it was the German Grand Prix in July that Hamilton last started at the very front of the grid, but he ended a nine-race run without a pole position in style at the Yas Marina Circuit, eclipsing the previous lap record with a lap of 1:34.779.
Even though both championships have long been sewn up, his Mercedes AMG Motorsport team have continued to push to be at the front of the field, and Hamilton wants this to continue into Sunday as he bids to end the season with victory.
“It was a very good Qualifying session for us,” said Hamilton. “Qualifying hasn’t been the easiest this year, but it’s been something we’ve just been chipping away it.
“Yesterday was a bit difficult for me, I had to re-centre myself for today. But it’s the best thing when you get to Q3 and you pull out two good laps. A big thank you to the entire team for their continued effort.
“Even though we have both titles won, we continue to push and strive to be better and that’s so inspiring to me. It’s been an incredible journey with this car this year, so to finish the year off with a pole is a great feeling.
“It’s not even half the job done, but this result puts us in the best position possible for tomorrow when we’ve got to battle with the Ferraris and Red Bulls.”
Hamilton was ‘Too Quick today’ – Bottas
Despite knowing he would be starting at the back of the field following a multitude of grid penalties for two engine changes, team-mate Valtteri Bottas participated fully in Qualifying and fought hard for pole position, only to come up a few tenths of a second short.
Never-the-less, the Finn, who has been fighting through illness this week in Abu Dhabi, is looking forward to the challenge of fighting through the field from the back of the grid on Sunday and secure as many points as possible and perhaps a podium.
“Congratulations to Lewis – 88 pole positions, that’s an impressive number,” said Bottas. “My lap was good, but it felt like Lewis was a bit too quick today.
“We used different set-ups in Qualifying and overall I felt a bit more comfortable in the car yesterday. Anyway, my main focus is on the race tomorrow as I knew going into Qualifying that I’d be starting the race from the back owing to the grid penalty.
“I still pushed as hard as I could, but I only did one run in Q2 to save a set of tyres for tomorrow. I think it’ll be an entertaining race tomorrow and I’ll try to make up as many places as possible. It’ll be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Wolff Heralds ‘Fantastic’ Final Qualifying of 2019
Toto Wolff, the Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, was delighted to see Mercedes finish first and second in Qualifying, and despite Hamilton and Bottas bookending the grid, he wants the team to end the season in style with both cars at the front of the field.
“It’s fantastic to conclude Qualifying for the season with a 1-2, a perfect result for us,” said Wolff. “It’s been a little while since Lewis was last on pole back at Hockenheim, but he really got into the rhythm today.
“This is a track that seems to suit us well and it clearly suits him too. Valtteri did a great job too and it’s a shame he will have to start the race from the back. It’s going to be exciting to watch him go through the field tomorrow.
“We’ve got our drivers at either end of the grid, but our aim tomorrow will be to end this remarkable season in style with both of them.”