F1 -Abu Dhabi GP – Qualifying
Salam, MiniDrivers! We’ve once again reached the final weekend of racing in the season and Abu Dhabi is its witness for the sixth year in a row. We may have the World Championships decided, but there still are scores to be settled, so hop along on the ride!
Q1 stared as per usual, with those drivers in need of securing a spot in Q2 going out first, with the exception of Albon, possibly to avoid overheating of the tyres. Soon everyone was on track and there were complaints of a slippery track, common in a circuit that was built in the desert. Vettel spinned right in the last corner and over the finish line just as Hamilton set the last sector record, which prompted a bit of controversy that would end up amounting to nothing. Bottas, who will start last due to penalties regardless of his result in qualy, and Hamilton passed the first place back and forth between them before they went back to pits, as did the rest of the top team drivers, while the rest of the grid battled it out. Haas disappointed by Magnussen being saved by the bell and Grosjean being the first of the eliminated drivers, when they had both reached Q3 back in Brazil. The eliminated drivers in Q1 were Grosjean (P16), Giovinazzi (P17), Raikkonen (P18), Russell (P19) and Kubica (P20).
Q2 saw Red Bull showing they were going to try and get through to Q3 with medium tyres. Ferrari, however, surprised everyone by using softs, as did Magnussen with mediums. However, not even the red rimmed tyres seemed to be enough for Ferrari to dethrone Hamilton or Bottas. That was until Leclerc waited for the last moment to change to mediums as well and set his time with it, separating himself from a teammate whose best time was set with softs. Both McLarens and Renaults made the cut to Q3. The drivers who were eliminated in Q2 were Pérez (P11), Gasly (P12), Stroll (P13), Kvyat (P14) and Magnussen (P15).
Barely any time was lost by the drivers when Q3 started. Bottas still took part in it, possibly to show Ferrari they had nothing to do against the silver arrows. The first stint went almost as expected, with the exception of Verstappen wedging his way between Hamilton and Bottas to grasp a second place that he wouldn’t maintain to the end. Ferrari, with more than enough time to make it with both cars to a last lap, ended up with only Vettel being able to try and improve his time due to him slowing down in the last sector and preventing his teammate from going over the finish line in time. However, this backfired and the German driver didn’t improve his time.
Hamilton reclaimed a pole position that he hadn’t been able to grasp since Germany, closely followed by Bottas, snatching yet another front row lockout that won’t be appearing on the grid tomorrow due to the Finish driver’s penalty, which will see him starting from P20. Verstappen grasped a third place that almost looked impossible prior to qualifying. Both Ferraris followed him, with Leclerc yet again managing a higher placement than Vettel, and Albon closed the top 6. McLaren and Renault shared the last four places in the top 10, helping Sainz on his quest to grasp the top midfielder title tomorrow, despite him getting a P9 that could have easily been a P7.