Lewis Hamilton secures Abu Dhabi GP pole position ahead of Valtteri Bottas

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Lewis Hamilton completed one half of his vow to end his championship-winning campaign in style as he put his Mercedes on pole position for the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who closed out his fifth title with two rounds to spare in Mexico last month, will be joined on the front row by Valtteri Bottas, with Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen third and fourth for Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso is ending his 18-season career here in the desert on Sunday, and in his final Formula One qualifying session, the two-time world champion finished 15th.

“It was quite an emotional qualifying session, because it is the last time I will qualify in this car,” Hamilton said.

“I am the closest to this car than I have been to any others. It has not always been easy, but it has been a real privilege this year.

“To go out there and express yourself, and push the car the way you want, there is no better feeling.

“The first lap wasn’t spectacular, but that last one started off calm, and then I got more and more aggressive. The last sector was a killer and that’s where I made the difference.”

Vettel, who has been victorious at just one race since the summer break, added: “I am confident for tomorrow, so it should be good fun, challenging these guys, and I will give it everything I have.”

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Lewis Hamilton posts fastest time in final practice for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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World champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time in final practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Mercedes star, who is bidding to end his title-winning campaign with an 11th victory of the year, finished 0.288 seconds clear of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen at the Yas Marina circuit, with Sebastian Vettel third.

Max Verstappen finished fourth quickest, ahead of Valtteri Bottas, with Daniel Ricciardo sixth in the order.

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Esteban Ocon confirmed as Mercedes reserve driver for 2019

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Esteban Ocon has been confirmed as Mercedes reserve driver for next season.

The Frenchman, 22, will be without a race seat in 2019, with Lance Stroll to replace him at Force India after his fashion billionaire father, Lawrence, bought the team.

Ocon is a member of Mercedes’ junior programme, and will hope his season as an understudy to Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will help him return to the grid in 2020.

Bottas, who heads into the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi on Sunday without a win, is out of contract with the Silver Arrows at the end of next season.

“We hope to do the odd test with Esteban next year,” Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said on Friday.

“He will spend a lot of time in the simulator and be ready for 2020.”

Ocon courted controversy at the last race in Brazil after he collided with leader Max Verstappen. Verstappen responded by shoving Ocon in the chest three times.

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