Hamilton ends pole drought with Abu Dhabi track record

By Sports Desk November 30, 2019

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. 

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.

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.


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    The second successive weekend of Formula One racing in Spielberg, Austria, risks being disrupted by wet, stormy weather on Saturday.

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    The Formula One official website reported Pierre Gasly telling his AlphaTauri team: "If this is quali, we didn't maximise it."

    Verstappen, who won the Austrian Grand Prix last year at this circuit, clearly likes the track and the Red Bull driver's quickest time of one minute and 3.660 seconds set a target no rival could match.

    Last weekend's race winner Valtteri Bottas outpaced Mercedes team-mate and six-time champion Lewis Hamilton, finishing second in FP2, just 0.043secs behind Verstappen.

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    At least they both posted FP2 times, unlike Daniel Ricciardo who clattered his Renault into a tyre wall in the early stages of the session to bring out the red flag. The Australian avoided serious injury and was given the all-clear by medics.

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    He was eighth quickest in FP2 but was dealt a three-place grid penalty after overtaking when yellow flags were waved in the opening session.

    The 20-year-old British driver secured a maiden F1 podium last weekend in the Austrian Grand Prix, finishing third, but will have his work cut out to achieve a similar result this time.

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