ABU DHABI (AFP) – New five-time champion Lewis Hamilton smashed the lap record as he secured pole position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and led team-mate Valtteri Bottas to Mercedes to another front-row lockout.
In a scintillating performance, the Englishman clocked a best lap in one minute and 34.794 seconds to outstrip Bottas by almost two-tenths of a second. It is his 11th pole of the season and the 83rd of his career.
Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel was third ahead of his Ferrari team-mate Sauber-bound Kimi Raikkonen, Renault-bound Daniel Ricciardo and his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen.
Romain Grosjean was seventh for Haas ahead of Ferrari-bound Charles Leclerc of Sauber, Esteban Ocon of Force India and Nico Hulkenberg of Renault.
Hamilton kissed his car after the session. ‘‘I’m so grateful for all the support we’ve had here. It’s emotional for me because it’s the last lap I’ll do in this car. I’ve been so emotionally attached to it.
‘‘I’m just happy that this car will be in the history museum at Mercedes in Germany so I can go visit whenever I can!
‘‘I never say there’s a perfect lap, but the first lap wasn’t spectacular. That last one started off kind of calm, but got more aggressive – and Valtteri did a great job, too!’’