Lewis Hamilton Smashes Lap Record On Way to 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Pole

Hamilton will lead the grid for the final Grand Prix of the 2018 Formula 1 season.

Mercedes-AMG driver Lewis Hamilton scored the 83rd pole position of his career in qualifying for the 2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, rewriting the lap record of Yas Marina Circuit in the process.

His teammate Valtteri Bottas occupies the slot alongside him on the grid, making for the fifth-straight Mercedes front row lockout in Abu Dhabi, and totaling 57 for Mercedes, putting it another lockout closer to the record of 62 jointly held by Williams and McLaren. Bottas denied Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel a front-row start, which would have been Ferrari’s first in Abu Dhabi.

Kimi Räikkönen is nearer to his Red Bull Racing pursuers than his Ferrari teammate, and will be hounded by both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, in that order. Verstappen no longer has the opportunity to take the record for youngest polesitter in F1 history, as he will surpass the age of the youngest—Sebastian Vettel—over winter break. His last serious chance at pole came in Mexico, where Ricciardo usurped the Dutchman to take pole for himself.

Best of the midfielders was again Romain Grosjean of Haas, more than 1.1 seconds ahead of his teammate Kevin Magnussen. Haas, Alfa Romeo Sauber, Racing Point Force India, and Renault are all split between the top and bottom ten, one of each team failing to get out of Q2. Charles Leclerc, Esteban Ocon, and Nico Hülkenberg round out the top ten, all at least four-tenths up on their teammates.

This qualifying session is believed to be the last for Ocon, Marcus Ericsson, Brendon Hartley, Stoffel Vandoorne, Sergey Sirotkin, and Fernando Alonso, all of whom are either expected or known to be racing in other series come 2019. Vandoorne is headed to Formula E, while Ericsson and Alonso are coming stateside to compete in IndyCar, Alonso solely for the Indianapolis 500 in 2019. The Spaniard managed to escape Q1 in his final F1 qualifying session, but despite another heroic lap, he finished Q2 dead last of its contestants.

A full list of qualifying times and margins of improvement from 2017 can be found below.

  1. Lewis Hamilton/Mercedes – 1:34.794, -1.609 from 2017
  2. Valtteri Bottas/Mercedes – 1:34.956, -1.275 from 2017
  3. Sebastian Vettel/Ferrari – 1:35.125, -1.625 from 2017
  4. Kimi Räikkönen/Ferrari – 1:35.365, -1.620 from 2017
  5. Daniel Ricciardo/Red Bull – 1:35.401, -1.558 from 2017
  6. Max Verstappen/Red Bull – 1:35.589, -1.739 from 2017
  7. Romain Grosjean/Haas – 1:36.192, -3.324 from 2017
  8. Charles Leclerc/Alfa Romeo Sauber – 1:36.237
  9. Esteban Ocon/Force India – 1:36.540, -1.857 from 2017
  10. Nico Hülkenberg/Renault – 1:36.542, -1.740 from 2017
  11. Carlos Sainz Jr./Renault – 1:36.982, -1.743 from 2017
  12. Marcus Ericsson/Alfa Romeo Sauber – 1:37.132, -2.862 from 2017
  13. Kevin Magnussen/Haas – 1:37.309, -1.989 from 2017
  14. Sergio Perez/Force India – 1:37.541, -0.833 from 2017
  15. Fernando Alonso/McLaren – 1:37.743, -0.893 from 2017
  16. Brendon Hartley/Toro Rosso-Honda – 1:37.994, -2.477 from 2017
  17. Pierre Gasly/Toro Rosso-Honda – 1:38.166, -1.558 from 2017
  18. Stoffel Vandoorne/McLaren – 1:38.577, -0.231 from 2017
  19. Sergey Sirotkin/Williams – 1:38.635
  20. Lance Stroll/Williams – 1:38.682, -0.964 from 2017