Hamilton ends 'long slog' with pole in Abu Dhabi

Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car during the third practice session at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, a day ahead of the final race of the season, on November 30, 2019. (AFP Photo/GIUSEPPE CACACE)
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton steers his car during the third practice session at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, a day ahead of the final race of the season, on November 30, 2019. (AFP Photo/GIUSEPPE CACACE)

Abu Dhabi (AFP) - Lewis Hamilton claimed his first pole position in four months with a scorching record lap at the Yas Marina circuit on Saturday as Mercedes dominated qualifying ahead Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The recently crowned champion delivered a late lap in one minute and 34.779 seconds to outpace team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who is set to start from the back of the grid after collecting penalties for taking new engines.

It was a stunning way for Hamilton to finish the 'qualifying season' and improved his career record total to 88 poles, five of them in Abu Dhabi.

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It was his first pole since the German Grand Prix in July and his fifth of the year.

"It’s been such a long slog to try and get this pole position," admitted Hamilton. "Yesterday was quite wobbly so I had to regroup overnight and come back focussed."

On team radio, he told his crew: "That’s what I've been looking for!"

Max Verstappen was third for Red Bull ahead of the two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel with Alex Albon taking sixth in the second Red Bull. The Dutchman will start alongside Hamilton on the front row.

"As a team it’s been a really strong day," said Bottas.

"We saw in qualifying that we had good pace and, as I’m going to start last, we’ll take that fighting spirit forward tomorrow."

Verstappen said: "I think today was the best we could do. We all know Mercedes are dominant here, but I think there are a lot of chances in this race."

Lando Norris won his intra-team qualifying battle with McLaren partner Carlos Sainz to take seventh ahead of Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo with Sainz ninth and Nico Hulkenberg, in his final weekend with Renault, 10th.

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