Brilliant Bottas grabs pole in Abu Dhabi
The 28-year-old clinches his second consecutive pole position
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas sounded out a warning to Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel that he won't go down without a fight, by seizing pole position for the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Finn, who is battling Vettel for second in the Drivers' Championship, heading into the season-finale, lapped the 5.55km Yas Marina Circuit with the quickest time of 1:36.231 seconds, with nine minutes left in Saturday's qualifying.
The 28-year-old, who is 22 points behind Vettel, clinched his second consecutive pole position and the fourth of his career.
Bottas also put to shade last year's pole-winning lap by two-and-a-half seconds and will be gunning a third win this season after victories in Russia and Austria.
Mercedes locked out the front row of the grid with Bottas' teammate Lewis Hamilton second, the freshly-minted four-time world champion, 0.172 seconds behind.
The Briton, who wrapped up his fourth world title in Mexico, mustered a fastest lap of 1:36.403 seconds, also with nine minutes remaining.
Vettel, who won the penultimate race in Brazil, could only manage third, with a time of 1:36.777 seconds, after the chequered flag had fallen on the session.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who is tussling Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen for fourth in the Championship, got one over the Finn, with one final dash of 1:36.959 seconds. Raikkonen was fifth with a timing of 1:36.985 seconds.
The Australian is on 200 points, while Raikkonen is seven points adrift.
Ricciardo's teammate Max Verstappen was sixth followed by Renault's Nico Hulkenberg. Force India's Sergio Perez qualified eighth, while teammate Esteban Ocon was ninth.
Brazilian Felipe Massa, taking part in his 269th and final race of his career, rounded out the top 10, in the Williams. McLaren-Honda's Fernando Alonso was 11th.
Earlier, Ericsson was the first man to record a lap time, with a 1:40.692s.
Bottas exited the garage two minutes into the session even as Hamilton set the fastest time of 1:37.473, 0.2s ahead of his teammate.
Meanwhile, Vettel was third, 0.7s behind Hamilton but Raikkonen took his teammate's spot, 0.1s quicker, than the German.
It was pretty much cat-and-mouse with the top spot changing hands between Bottas and Hamilton.
Haas' Romain Grosjean, Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly, Sauber duo Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson and Toro Rosso's Brendon Hartley were eliminated after Q1.
Bottas went fastest at the start of Q2 with a time of 1:36.977s but Hamilton chipped away, going 0.2s quicker.
Meanwhile, it was an interesting battle between Alonso and Massa with the latter edging ahead with a strong run.
Joining Alonso out of Q2 were Renault's Carlos Sainz, McLaren-Honda's Stoffel Vandoorne, Haas' Kevin Magnussen and Lance Stroll in the Williams.
Q3 began with Raikkonen setting a blistering 1:36.985 seconds but the Finn's compatriot Bottas was even faster to take provisional pole.
And it went on to stay that way for Bottas denied Hamilton a 12th pole position this season.
Earlier in the afternoon, Hamilton topped the timesheets in the third and final practice session.
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