The way things are happening late, it's almost easy to forget just what a huge challenge Ferrari presented to Mercedes on several points this year.
Under the Abu Dhabi traffic lights this evening, it looks like the old days, when Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas in Mercedes fought for each other, leaving Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen in three and four places in Ferraris, as Red Bulls by Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who were so fast in the last two races, fighting in the Fifth and Sixth.
Finally, Hamilton managed to do the best, for the 83rd time in his career and the eleventh this season. For the new five-time world champion who won 50 of the last 99 awards, it has been the 52nd pole in the last 100 years.
And yet things did not look too red for Mercedes after the first qualifying session, when Vettel headed Bottas and Hamilton, 1m 36,775s at 1m 36,789s and 1m 36,828s.
"Q1 was very tight and we thought we had a better chance," Vettel admitted. But, in a way, this performance can not be sustained.
Passing from the fastest Pirelli tires from Hypersoft to the most durable for Q2, where drivers have to start the race on the tires they qualify, Hamilton went forward with a very strong tour of 1m 35,693s. Verstappen was second with 1m 36.114s, as Vettel fell on 1m 36.345s and Bottas at 1m 36.392s, all on the same rubber.
Hamilton continued to make a tremendous rhythm at the beginning of Q3as, when Mercedes returned the wick, his first race getting 1m 35.295s when he returned to the hipsters that all drivers had used and now Bottas was the closest opponent on 1m 35,419 s. But there was a hope of hope for Vettel while he pushed ahead of the Finnish with 1m 35,352s.
Bottas, who soon won a race this year, actually pushed his weight in the second run and was actually in Hamilton's time after the first two sectors, but the British had a third sector and set the pole in his favor because he made an improvement at 1m 34.794s. Bottas returned to Vettel with 1m 34,956s. Germany's turn looked good for the first two sectors, but it collapsed thereafter and dropped to third with 1m 35,125s. Raikkonen improved slightly to 1m 35,365s, but after Ricciardo reduced the time to 1m 35,401s, Verstappen stayed 1m 35,589s looking at his curiosity.
It was the fifth consecutive ranking of the Mercedes. Hamilton kissed the car as he climbed and admitted it was an emotional moment.
"It's the last time I'm qualified in this car," he explained. "I was on an emotional rollercoaster together this year and I feel closer to it than any of the other cars.
"This was an excellent qualification session and today it was so fun to be able to express yourself and your car as much as you want. There is no better feeling.
"Honestly, I never say anything is a perfect tour. My first tour was not spectacular, there were some excursions and a movement of the rear end of the car, but the second became more aggressive and the last sector was the killer for me It's not easy to do this from one turn to another.
"After winning the title, I wanted to keep pushing the limits and limits, and I want to end the season on a high level and then continue to exploit this foundation to give us a strong start for next year. where he disappeared this year and I am very happy today. It's great to finish the season with a 1-2. "
Bottas was again disappointed, but the second was still a boost after the recent races.
"Of course I was heading for the pole," he said. "I arrived here last year, but I could not repeat this. First of all, Lewis had a pretty nice tour, so I was impressed." In the second run, there was certainly an improvement but I finally got a full tour. I think we've lost time in the third sector at the 17th and 18th Towers. It was hard to understand. "Pole was possible today, but Lewis did a better job. "As Hamilton shakes hands with Vettel's mechanics, the German smiled and admitted that Ferrari did not have a skilled rhythm to challenge the silver arrows.
"I did not come home, so I enjoyed a little more of it," he said as he watched that bit of sportiness. "But I look forward to getting into the car for the last time tomorrow and we will give it all we have.
"I'm pretty confident and it's going to be a very long race. Of course I would have liked to be the first, but that's not the case, but we'll fight as much as we can and race can happen. we can do. "
Both Hamilton and Vettel expect the Red Bulls to be more competitive tomorrow.
"They will be strong," said Hamilton, "They are always in the race. They are struggling to keep up the pace we offer in quali, but in the race they come back, so I'm sure they will be there, but it's not so easy a circuit to overcome. However, I hope they have a strong end to this year. "
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