Lewis Hamilton continued his sizzling form by putting his Mercedes on pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Briton will start from the front of the pack for the fifth time this season after the six-time world champion finished two-tenths clear of Valtteri Bottas.
The Finn, however, will be bumped to the back of the grid after receiving a penalty for changing the power unit.
Max Verstappen will line up from second ahead of the Ferrari duo of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel.
Here, we take a look at the key takeaways from qualifying at Yas Marina Circuit.
The 34-year-old completed one half of the job to winning a fifth Abu Dhabi GP by putting his Mercedes on pole.
The Stevenage man clinched his 88th pole position in Formula One and first since the German Grand Prix in July.
His delivered a perfect lap of 1:34.779 – a new track record – to edge out Bottas and put him on course for an 11th win of the season
Bottas, meanwhile, has been rapid all weekend, topping FP1 and FP2, and has the chance to do some damage from the back of the grid on Sunday.
A podium place may be unrealistic though with the likes of Verstappen and Leclerc in strong form plus the lack of overtaking opportunities at Yas Marina Circuit.
FERRARI LACK PACE
The Scuderia did not appear to have the consistent pace to beat Mercedes, despite being quicker over the first sector of the track.
Vettel and Leclerc were expected to mount a challenge on Hamilton and Bottas. But backed up by other drivers, Leclerc failed to make the chequered flag to start his second flying lap, and finished 0.440 behind Hamilton.
The Monaco man though, was fastest in Q2 on the medium tyre and that bodes well for race day.
Vettel did scrape across, but a poor first sector cost him any chance of improving and he was forced to settle for fifth – 0.560 behind the pace setter – but will move up to fourth for race day.
No matter how good the Ferrari strategy is on Sunday, it is unlikely that the Italian marque will be able topple the supreme Mercedes.
Extracting the maximum from his RB13, Verstappen will start from second on the grid due to Bottas’ change of power unit.
A stunning lap of 1:35:139 was just 0.360 behind Hamilton, and now puts him in prime position to challenge for his fourth win of the season.
It is the Dutchman’s best qualifying result at Yas Marina Circuit after three successive sixth-place starts since 2016.
His best ever result in Abu Dhabi was third place in 2018, and judging by the strides the car has made over the last twelve months, expect the 22-year-old to be a menace on Sunday.
If Verstappen can stay ahead of Leclerc, then he will secure third in the drivers’ standings. As it stands, he is 11 points ahead of the former Sauber man.
VERSTAPPEN: "Third was probably the best we could have hoped for - Mercedes are usually quite dominant here. But we're in a decent position for tomorrow and there should be opportunities there for us"#AbuDhabiGP 🇦🇪 #F1 pic.twitter.com/4mMWrkT9XB— Formula 1 (@F1) November 30, 2019
The struggles of the beleaguered Williams outfit continued as both George Russell and Robert Kubica fell at the first hurdle again in qualifying.
Williams has been the slowest car all season and have scored just the solitary point, which was Kubica’s 10th-place finish at the German Grand Prix in July.
In 2019, Russell has been through to Q2 on three occasions, while the outgoing Kubica has advanced to Q2 on one occasion in Monza.
Incredibly, Russell has out-qualified his team-mate 21-0.
Lacking pace, it’s unlikely to expect any miracles form them on Sunday as both drivers will be lingering at the basement of the grid.
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