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Hamilton ends drought as Silver Arrows lock out front row

James Jose/Abu Dhabi
Filed on November 30, 2019 | Last updated on November 30, 2019 at 11.51 pm
THE TRIO: Lewis Hamilton (centre) celebrates his pole position with Valtteri Bottas (left) and Max Verstappen.

(Ryan Lim)

Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has four wins here

The mammoth Ferrari World may be sprawled across, beside the Yas Marina Circuit. But it is probably fair to say that the iconic and futuristic racetrack is Mercedes' backyard.

Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has four wins here, three with the German marquee, and the team have five victories.

And on Saturday night, the Silver Arrows continued their spree. Lewis Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas finished first and second in qualifying for the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

It was Mercedes' sixth consecutive front row lock out in the UAE capital and it also ended Hamilton's barren run.

Hamilton, who is perched on top of the tree in the all-time list for pole positions, clinched his fifth of the season and the 88th of his career.

The Briton, who wrapped up his sixth crown at the United States Grand Prix, with two races to spare, had gone without pole since the German Grand Prix in July.

But on a sparkling evening, where the twilight turned into night, Hamilton turned it on with the fastest lap to halt the run that lasted 10 races. Hamilton also extended his run of front row starts with this being his 10th.

Hamilton was quickest with a time of 1:34.779 seconds, while Bottas timed 1:34.973 seconds. But there was no rejoicing as the Finn will start from the back of the grid because of a penalty incurred due to an engine change. The team had already replaced the power unit heading into Abu Dhabi and this was a second change as a result of a pneumatic leak.

Red Bull Racing's Max Verstappen will start third from the grid after he timed 1:35.139 seconds. But he would do well to look to his side as Ferrari's Charles Leclerc starts from fourth. The Monegasque driver had a disappointing end to Q3 as he couldn't go for his final qualifying lap and couldn't improve on his time of 1:35.219 seconds.

Verstappen and Leclerc are locked in battle for third with the Dutchman 11 points ahead of the latter.

Leclerc's teammate four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel will start fifth after coming up with a lap time of 1:35.339 seconds.

The German, who just became a father for the third time, earlier went into a spin as he headed into the final corner ahead of the start-finish straight, with 10 minutes left in Q1. He then just about managed to squeeze in with fifth, a spot behind Leclerc.

Alexander Albon was sixth for Red Bull Racing, timing 1:35.682 seconds. McLaren's Lando Norris and teammate Carlos Sainz sandwiched Renault's Daniel Ricciardo with Norris in seventh and Sainz ninth.

Renault's Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10. Haas F1's Romain Grosjean, Alfa Romeo Racing duo Antonio Giovinazzi and 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, as well as the Williams pair of George Russell and Robert Kubica, didn't make it past Q1.

The field was further cut short with Racing Point's Sergio Perez, Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly, Racing Point's Lance Stroll, Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat and Haas F1's Kevin Magnussen eliminated after Q2. The remaining 10 then went into the final shoot-out in Q3. The raceday is on Sunday


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