Hamilton: Abu Dhabi pole 'extra special'

By Sports Desk November 30, 2019

Lewis Hamilton revelled in an "extra special" pole position in the final grand prix of the Formula One season in Abu Dhabi as he ended his qualifying drought.

The world champion had not claimed pole since the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in July.

However, he ended his wait in some style at the Yas Marina circuit on Saturday, his time of one minute and 34.779 seconds setting a new track record.

His Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas was second, though he will start from the back due to a grid penalty.

Hamilton, who will instead have Max Verstappen for company on the front row, said afterwards: "It was such a long slog trying to get this pole position in and we just kept out heads down and the guys have done a great job.

"Yesterday was quite wobbly so I had to re-compose myself and had to come back today and re-focus. I managed to dial in the car with the hard work of the engineers.

"Valtteri 2.0 has been rapid, especially this weekend. To end the qualifying season with a pole and to say goodbye to this car with a pole, is extra special."

Bottas added: "As a team it has been a really strong day, we've had good pace, it didn't feel as good today as yesterday but I think Lewis made some good improvements.

"In any case I'm going to start last and we will find the fighting spirit tomorrow. I believe, anything is possible, we have a very good car. Sunday is normally stronger for us and we'll give it all we have."


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  • MotoGP 2020: The tough times seem to have passed – Vinales revels in Misano success MotoGP 2020: The tough times seem to have passed – Vinales revels in Misano success

    Maverick Vinales believes the tough times may have passed for Monster Energy Yamaha after his victory at Misano on Sunday.

    Vinales claimed his first MotoGP win of the season – and became the sixth different race winner of 2020 – in the second of back-to-back races at the Misano circuit.

    It came in somewhat fortuitous fashion, with Vinales capitalising on Francesco Bagnaia's bad luck after the race leader crashed out with seven laps remaining.

    The Yamaha rider had finished sixth after initially claiming pole last time out, though, and suggested Sunday's triumph may finally mark a turn in fortunes.

    "I just want to say thank you to all the people supporting me from home. There have been tough times for me, the team, but it seems now they have passed," he told MotoGP's official website.

    "An amazing job this weekend, we prepared really good. I was pushing a lot, trying to save a bit of tyre for the last 10 laps, and then I started to really push at the end of the race.

    "I thought I was catching a little bit but after Francesco's mistake I just tried to focus on putting the wheels on the track, not crashing and getting the points.

    "So fantastic. I'm very happy, my mentality is completely the same, we just found a little bit more. 

    "I believe a lot in myself. I know what I'm able to do. We don't need to give up. For sure we've had difficult times, we've made many mistakes. I felt really strong today."

    Suzuki Ecstar's Joan Mir climbed from 11th to finish second, ahead of Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha).

    However, Quartararo was handed a three-second post-race penalty, meaning Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Tech3) clinched the final place on the podium.

    "I wanted to enjoy the race. By the end I expected a little bit of a drop in the tyre but it came a little bit earlier," Espargaro told MotoGP's official website.

    "I just wanted to keep Maverick near. I just tried to defend my position, and finally it came off, with the penalty to Fabio.

    "I never surrender because these kind of things happen and today we were lucky."

    Vinales' victory moves him up to joint-second – alongside Quartararo – in the drivers' standings, a point behind Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso.

  • MotoGP 2020: Vinales snatches victory as Bagnaia crashes out in chaotic Emilia Romagna grand prix MotoGP 2020: Vinales snatches victory as Bagnaia crashes out in chaotic Emilia Romagna grand prix

    Leader Francesco Bagnaia crashed out of the Emilia Romagna and Rimini's Coast Grand Prix as Maverick Vinales claimed a dramatic triumph.

    Bagnaia – denied a maiden MotoGP pole and another Misano lap record in qualifying for exceeding track limits – looked set to clinch his maiden success as Sunday's grand prix entered its final stages.

    Yet there was to be heartbreak for the Italian, who held over a 1.2-second advantage when he skidded off the track with seven laps remaining.

    Vinales, who had started on pole for the second successive race after missing a golden opportunity in the first of the back-to-back Misano rounds last time out, took full advantage to claim his first win of the season and propel himself up the championship standings.

    Behind the Monster Energy Yamaha rider, Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) climbed from 11th to see off Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) and Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Tech3) to finish second.

    Quartaro crossed the line in third, but a long-lap penalty cost the Frenchman top spot in the championship standings, who was handed a three-second post-race punishment, with Espargaro taking the final spot on the podium.

    Last weekend's winner and Quartararo's fellow Petronas Yamaha rider Franco Morbidelli came in ninth, one place behind championship leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), who now only holds a one-point advantage over Quartararo and Vinales.

    Home star Valentino Rossi was forced to retire after an early crash, while Jack Miller's race was ended by technical problems and Brad Binder also dropped out in a frantic grand prix.


    TOP 10

    1. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha)
    2. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) +2.425s
    3. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +4.528
    4. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) +6.419 (after three-second penalty)
    5. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) +7.368s
    6. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) +11.139s
    7. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda) +11.929s
    8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) +13.113s
    9. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) +15.880s 
    10. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) +17.682s



    1. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 84
    2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) 83
    3. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 83
    4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 80
    5. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha) 64


    1. Petronas Yamaha 147
    2. Monster Energy Yamaha 141
    3. Suzuki Ecstar 124
    4. Ducati 115
    5. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 110


    After successive races at Misano, the teams will head for Barcelona, with the Grand Prix of Catalonia next up.

  • MotoGP 2020: Starting grid and preview for the Emilia Romagna and Rimini's Coast Grand Prix MotoGP 2020: Starting grid and preview for the Emilia Romagna and Rimini's Coast Grand Prix

    Maverick Vinales has another golden opportunity to put himself firmly in the MotoGP title picture when he starts on pole at Misano on Sunday. 

    Vinales was on pole for the San Marino Grand Prix last time out but was unable to convert that position into a victory, finishing down in sixth. 

    The Spaniard is 18 points adrift of Andrea Dovizioso in a wide-open fight to replace the injured Marc Marquez as world champion. 

    However, he is in the prime spot to vault up the standings after an error by Francesco Bagnaia gave him pole for the Emilia Romagna and Rimini's Coast Grand Prix. 

    Yet the owner of the lap record at Misano cannot afford to take anything for granted ahead of what looks set to be a fascinating fight for the chequered flag.


    Bagnaia should have been celebrating a maiden MotoGP pole - and another Misano lap record - having smashed the previous mark in FP3. 

    He crossed the line on his final flying lap in one minute and 30.973 seconds, a time that would have seen him top the timesheets. 

    However, he crucially exceeded the track limits on the final turn, an infraction that saw his lap struck off and both pole position and the record handed to Vinales.

    Vinales will have Jack Miller and Fabio Quartararo for company on the front row, with Bagnaia dropping to fifth as a result of his error. 

    Championship leader Dovizioso heads the fourth row, with Franco Morbidelli - winner of the San Marino Grand Prix - sandwiched between Valentino Rossi and Danilo Petrucci on the third row. 


    1. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha), 2. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), 3. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha)
    4. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), 5. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing), 6. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
    7. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha), 8. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha), 9. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati)
    10. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati), 11. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar), 12. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda)
    13. Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3), 14. Johann Zarco (Avintia), 15. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)
    16. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), 17. Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda), 18. Alex Rins (Suzuki Ecstar)
    19. Bradley Smith (Aprilia), 20. Tito Rabat (Avintia)


    The searing pace displayed by Bagnaia will be a topic of discussion despite his phenomenal last flying lap counting for nothing. 

    He and team-mate Miller will surely pose a significant threat to Vinales, though Quartararo is concerned about some of his title rivals positioned further back on the starting grid. 

    Joan Mir of Suzuki trails Dovizioso by 16 points, but he produced a disappointing display in Q2 and starts 11th. However, with Quartararo branding the Suzuki "a perfect bike", a charge through the field from Mir is not out of the question.

    "Yes, I'm worried because they are fast in the straight, they are fast in acceleration to overtake people, they are so fast," Quartararo said on Thursday.


    Maverick Vinales (pole): "This weekend I tried to work always with a race setting. We make an improvement. Last weekend the bike always feels good without fuel but with fuel on the race I struggle a lot. This weekend we work a lot and it seems that we make an improvement. We wish it will work for the race."

    Jack Miller (2nd): "When we got to Q2 I only had one tyre, so it was kind of a one-shot wonder. Anyway, we made it, not a bad qualifying, I was lucky to get the two off Pecco [Bagnaia]."

    Fabio Quartararo (3rd): "Feeling great to be on the front row, that is really important. Our race pace is looking good. I'm happy because we have a good base for tomorrow."



    1. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 76
    2. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha) 70
    3. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) 64
    4. Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) 60
    5. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha) 58


    1. Petronas Yamaha 127
    2. Monster Energy Yamaha 116
    3. Ducati 101
    4. Suzuki Ecstar 100
    5. Pramac Racing 97

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