Notebook – Abu Dhabi Qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton has beaten his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by a tenth of a second to take pole position for tomorrow’s final race of the season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The five-times looked very strong in the middle sector to pull out a few tenths over his teammate.

It looked as if Bottas had the edge over his teammate in the final few moments of Q3, before the Englishman improved his time in the middle sector to push the Finn off pole by a tenth. ß

Pole lap comparison

Lewis Hamilton starts the lap from the inside where he stays before breaking late into turn one,. Getting the speed down as he exits the corner and weaves his way through the second corner. Runs nice and smoothly around turn four as he runs towards the chicane.

He runs a little bit wide compared to Vettel, who gets slightly ahead as they exit T6. Vettel gets a better exit allowing him to get ahead as the pull onto the long straight. Vettel stays marginally ahead of Hamilton as they enter the breaking zone. Both go to the inside on exit, but Hamilton doesn’t make the same mistake again.

But go to the outside at T11, Hamilton reacts quicker at the change of direction. Through that section they appear to be evenly matched, however, Hamilton is slightly ahead of Vettel. Vettel does claw some ground back, but he momentarily loses the rear under the hotel. Hamilton meanwhile is on course for pole, while Vettel loses the rear slightly. But Hamilton keeps going smoothly and takes pole by a tenth

Hamilton “killer” final sector

Lewis Hamilton believes the final sector of his pole position lap was “killer” and that what allowed him to take pole for the final race of the season. The five-times champion improved on his personal best by four-tenths of a second and clinch pole by 0.162s.

He said “The first lap wasn’t spectacular, there were a couple of excursions and movement at the rear end. The last one started off quite calm and got more and more aggressive as I went through it.”

“The last sector was the killer for me and that is where I really was able to make the difference. I came out four tenths up. That is not easy to do from one lap to another, so I am truly grateful for that.”

Verstappen wants answers

Max Verstappen says that Red Bull are already looking into the confusion around his tyre temperature which impacted his final run in qualifying.

Verstappen believes that his tyre temperatures were to hot in the final few moments of the session, while the team believed that they were in the window. The Dutchman said “”We will look into why they were a bit warmer because I didn’t understand why. We did a lot to get them colder. The problems is, on this, track the temperatures are so important that on the out-lap we are all going so slow.”

“If they are too hot already, you can’t cool them down that much. So, when you start hot, you know it’s already going to be worse with the tyres for the last sector.” He explained that he had already felt the tyre temperatures were too high for the first run so was surprised they were even higher.

He said having to be so aggressive in trying to cool them down meant that “at one point you can’t heat up your brakes like you want to into Turn 1, so it all got a bit compromised”.

Red Bull looked to struggle through the session with tyres, as Verstappen was forced onto the hypersoft tyres and will be the only driver in the top six starting on that higher-degradation compound.

FIA rejects Haas protest over Force India

The stewards have dismissed Haas’s protest against the Racing Point Force India. The US team augured that the Force India was running a car built by another team, and therefore ineligible to enter those cars in the championship.

But the stewards dismissed the case saying the listed parts are allowed to be run by the RRFI team as the old team could not be considered a “competitor or constructor” because it no longer exists and stated there is no regulatory support that listed parts cannot come from a former or excluded team.

Force India ceased to meet the FIA definition of both a competitor and a constructor on August 16, when its assets were sold to allow the formation of the new Racing Point Force India organisation.

The reason Haas protest the team’s entry as it believes that RPFI should not be allowed to immediately qualify for ‘Column 1’ payments, which teams need to finish in the top 10 in two of three seasons to be eligible for.

It argues that as Haas had to wait for those payments after it joined the grid in 2016 then the new Force India entry should do the same. The FIA ruled that RPFI are a “new team” and a “separate and different legal entity” and therefore “cannot be considered the same team as the former Force India”.

Meanwhile, Haas has announced its intent to appeal but has until Wednesday to submit the case to the FIA Court of Appeal. But has yet to announce a final decision.

Only Hamilton happy

As Fernando Alonso prepares for his final race tomorrow, the former champion says that Lewis Hamilton is the only one of F1 2018’s drivers who can be truly happy at the end of the season.

But Alonso insists he has no regrets about his career and points out there are many highly-talented drivers on the grid who have not even achieved his level of success yet. Speaking after qualifying, he said “In Formula 1 there is always one winning and all the others are not winning.

“Only one is happy here which is Lewis Hamilton this year. To finish second, seventh, 12th, it’s the same. I won two championships, 97 podiums and I have mates here with a lot of talent like Nico Hulkenberg, zero podiums.”

Alonso has often been criticised for making the wrong decisions in his career, but he believes few, if any drivers, would have turned up the same opportunities at the time.

“In my career, I feel extremely proud to have driven for Renault, McLaren and Ferrari. They are the three teams that I spent 17 years of my career and probably, arguably, are the three teams with more wins and success in Formula 1.

Vandoorne “relieved”

Stoffel Vandoorne says that he is “Quite relieved” following his final F1 qualifying session. He will be leaving F1 to join Mercedes Formula E team HWA ahead of next months Riyadh ePrix.

The Belgian described his final F1 qualifying of the year as “great” before expressing his relief at getting to the end of the campaign.

Saying “quite relieved, to be honest, we’ve not been in really good shape all season long. But I had a lot of fun out there today and I think tomorrow, one final race to go and I’m just going to the try and make the most of it”

“I had a lot of fun, and that’s what matters. This car is still nice to drive even though when you look at the classification it’s difficult to enjoy. But I had fun, I tried to do the best. Tomorrow we have one more race to go, which I’m just going to enjoy as much as I can.



Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.

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