Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Valtteri Bottas takes fourth career pole
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News November 25, 2017 Updated: 11:17 PM
ABU DHABI -- Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas grabbed his fourth career pole position ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton in Saturday's qualifying.
"Yeah, thank you, definitely a good feeling. It’s only the fourth for me. It was just a really clean session for me, everything was really seamless. The team did a really good job on the timing, what time to be on the track, and we had to make very minimal changes during the qualifying to any settings really. I could just really focus on the driving itself and finding lap time here and there," said Bottas.
Teammate Lewis Hamilton finished second after trying things during qualifying he wouldn't normally due to already being crowned champion.
"I experimented and then I struggled a little bit with the balance generally through the laps. I think at the end I was a tenth and a half up out of Turn 1 and then I lost it somewhere else in the rest of the lap. Nonetheless it was fun to be out there challenging, the last qualifying of the year, finally it’s done and we can just get on with the race tomorrow. It’s a very hard track to overtake, there are a couple of opportunities but I’ll give it everything I’ve got that’s for sure," said Hamilton.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was 0.546s away from Bottas in third. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth. Vettel's teammate Kimi Raikkonen took fifth ahead of Max Verstappen while Renault's Nico Hulkenberg finished seventh.
The Force India pair of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon qualified eight and ninth while Felipe Massa, who will retire after tomorrow's race, finished inside the top ten.
McLaren's Fernando Alonso finished outside the top ten in 11th but only 0.071s behind Massa. The two veteran drivers may have a tight battle when the lights go out tomorrow.
“We extracted the maximum, but when we get to qualifying everyone seems to have a magic qualifying mode button for their engines, so we step back a little bit.
“I’m also happy with the car balance – it has been good all weekend: we were seventh and eighth this morning and we’re looking quite competitive on the long runs, so for race pace we should be there and tomorrow we have a good opportunity to score points," said Alonso.
Carlos Sainz finished 12th for Renault while Alonso's teammate Stoffel Vandoorne took 13th. Haas' Kevin Magnussen finished was 0.490s behind Vandoorne and will start 14th.
Lance Stroll took 15th in the second Williams as he had to make use of an older engine which leaves him down on power.
Magnussen's Romain Grosjean finished 16th and was 0.013s behind Stroll while the Toro Rosso of Pierre Gasly took 17th. The Saubers of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson finished in 18th and 19th.
Wehrlein said, “Qualifying today was alright. Of course, I am not satisfied with the qualifying result – however, we knew that we would have some difficulties getting the tyres into the right operating window due to the drop in temperature that occurs in Abu Dhabi in the afternoons.
The race will be at the same time of day as today’s qualifying, so we will see what is possible. I will give my all to finish the race in the best possible position.” Gasly's teammate Brendon Hartley took the final place on the grid in 20th.