Abu Dhabi GP

Twelth season pole for Hamilton in Abu Dhabi

Running with the power turned down in the morning session, Mercedes would make the move into qualifying as something as an unknown, with both Red Bull and Ferrari ahead of them.

Having a torrid weekend so far, Toro Rosso were the first out on the circuit after they were stopped by the FIA to run with modifications enforced at the team before qualifying. Haas also went out on the circuit early, with a number of teams electing to stay in the pitlane early doors. Of those who went out early it was Kevin Magnussen who would set the pace on a 1:42.1 from Gutierrez and Sainz. Grosjean complained over the radio that ‘he had the same problem as yesterday’.

Jenson Button went faster though on a 1:41.8, three tenths faster than the Renault, with Mercedes making their way onto their first fast laps. Nico Rosberg was over a second slower than his teammate on their first lap, with Perez only three tenths behind the second Mercedes. Raikkonen split the pair of the Force Indias, while Vettel got up to second, eight tenth down on Hamilton. Verstappen then went third, with Ricciardo down in ninth.

With their troubles over the weekend, Toro Rosso were struggling with their drivers in 18th and 19th. Raikkonen on his second lap elevated him up to second, just ahead of Vettel. Williams were 8th and 11th after running the supersoft tyre, rather the ultrasoft tyre the other leaders had been using.

Button improved to 9th in the McLaren, ahead of Bottas with neither Ericsson or Grosjean could improve. Palmer improved, but Wehrlein was also just behind him. It was a poor end to the session though for Toro Rosso with both cars going out in the first part of qualifying.

Those out included Kvyat, Magnussen, Nasr, Ocon, Sainz and Ericsson.

Lewis Hamilton was the first driver to appear in the second part of qualifying, Nico Rosberg following together with Kimi Raikkonen. Another amazing low 1:39 for Hamilton wasnt able to be matched by Rosberg, although the German had reduced the gap to Hamilton to just a tenth. Red Bull went out and did their own thing, going out of the supersoft tyre rather than the ultrasoft, which saw Ricciardo end up fifth, Verstappen was slightly faster and split the two Ferrari drivers.

After the first run, the lower end of the top ten (Massa and Bottas) returned to the track, along with the Red Bull drivers who were the only ones to try and qualify on the supersoft. Bottas stayed tenth, although Alonso immediately knocked him out, with Button in 12th. Grosjean went 13th and Gutierrez took that place back from his teammate. Massa stayed 9th and Red Bull elected to complete their laps on the ultrasoft tyres.

Those who would drop out from the second session included Bottas, Button, Gutierrez, Grosjean, Palmer and Wehrlein.

The final 12 minutes of qualifying in 2016 started with Lewis Hamilton once again. He had Nico Hulkenberg right behind him, with Mercedes driver liking to take a leisurely warm up lap. Although not a perfect lap for Hamilton he was fastest on a 1:39.0, three tenths faster than his title rival. Raikkonen was another three tenths slower than Rosberg and only just ahead of Ricciardo. Vettel had a poor first lap ending up behind Raikkonen, Verstappen and Ricciardo.

Hulkenberg was once again behind Hamilton on the second run, with the Mercedes driver taking it easy warming up his tyres. After taking the warm up lap slightly faster than before, Hamilton was faster in the first sector, but then again was Rosberg. Hamilton did a 1:38.7, and Rosberg just didnt have enough three tenths behind. Raikkonen went third to be deposed by Ricciardo. Massa only went ninth fastest, which Alonso then switched places with him, while Vettel went up to fifth. A mistake by Verstappen brought out the yellow flags and stayed in sixth place.

About the author

Ashley Quint

Ashley founded the Purple Sector website back in 2012, later renamed to SpeedMajor which now covers both Formula 1 and Formula E. As well as writing on Formula 1, Ashley also works within the world of luxury travel and was a finalist in the Aspire Travel Trade Writer of the Year competition in 2013.

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