26 November 2017Hot off the Press
Valtteri Bottas has secured pole position at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit for the final Grand Prix of the 2017 season, with a lap time of 1:36.231. This is the Mercedes’ drivers fourth pole of both this year and his Formula One career, and a new fastest qualifying lap at the circuit since Sebastian Vettel’s 1:38.481 in 2011.
Bottas will be under significant pressure to convert the pole position into a win, having lost the lead from pole at the first turn at the previous race in Brazil. Only adding to that pressure will be having to start alongside and in front of two four-time World Champions — his Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who qualified second after going wide on the final turn, and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who qualified third.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo snatched fourth on the grid from Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen by just 0.026 seconds, relegating the Finn to the third row, alongside the other Red Bull of Max Verstappen. Meanwhile, Nico Hülkenberg managed to qualify seventh for Renault, just ahead of the Force Indias of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon, who were separated by only 0.023 seconds. Felipe Massa rounded out the top-10 for Williams in his final Formula One qualifying session; the Brazilian will retire at the end of this season.
Massa pushed Fernando Alonso’s McLaren out of the top-10, by a narrow margin of 0.071 seconds. Also eliminated in Q2 were the Renault of Carlos Sainz Jr (who had to abandon a lap after a near-collision with a pitting Pérez), the other McLaren of Stoffel Vandoorne (complaining of engine problems), the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, and the other Williams of Lance Stroll, who scraped into Q2 by 0.013 seconds ahead of the other Haas of Romain Grosjean who qualified 16th.
It was a disappointing session for Toro Rosso, with Pierre Gasly qualifying 17th and Brendon Hartley qualifying 20th; Hartley would have already started last due a 10-place grid penalty for taking on an additional power unit element, but expressed dissatisfaction with his personal qualifying performance. The Toro Rossos were split by the Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson (another narrow margin between the teammates of 0.060 seconds).
Although both the World Drivers’ Championship and World Constructors’ Championship titles have already been claimed by Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes respectively, there are still some noteworthy points battles that will be resolved when the chequered flag is waved in Abu Dhabi. These include: