Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2019

Hamilton on pole as last-lap mix-up costs Leclerc his final run

2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

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Lewis Hamilton will start the final F1 race of 2019 from pole position.

However Mercedes have been denied a sweep of the front row as Valtteri Bottas, who qualified second, will be relegated to the back of the grid by his engine change penalty. Max Verstappen, who qualified third, will start alongside Hamilton.

The session didn’t go well for Ferrari. Charles Leclerc was unable to complete his final lap after being held up behind team mate Sebastian Vettel.


Lewis Hamilton led the way in Q1 though a late improvement by Alexander Albon propelled the Red Bull driver up into second place, two-tenths of a second off the pace setter. Their team mates came next, followed by Charles Leclerc.

The Racing point pair found good pace from their car. Sergio Perez took advantage of a spin by Sebastian Vettel to beat the Ferrari driver to sixth. Vettel lost his car at the exit of the final corner, and briefly ran backwards along the start/finish straight before rejoining. Lance Stroll needed a strong last lap to escape the drop zone and delivered it, moving up to 12th, albeit over half a second off his team mate.

Stroll’s final effort pushed a dejected Romain Grosjean into elimination. Already forced into an overnight set-up change following his collision with Valtteri Bottas yesterday, he was held up on his way out of the pits when Daniil Kvyat was waved out in front of him. Thestewards are investigating the incident.

The other four eliminations were in line with the performance seen in practice. Antonio Giovinazzi out-qualified Alfa Romeo team mate Kimi Raikkonen, while George Russell completed a clean sweep of qualifying victories against Robert Kubica.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Romain GrosjeanHaas-Ferrari1’38.051
17Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’38.114
18Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’38.383
19George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’38.717
20Robert KubicaWilliams-Mercedes1’39.236

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[icon2019autocoursempu]Perez came close to reaching Q3, but fell short by a tenth of a second. Behind him the gaps were close – his team mate and both Toro Rossos were within a tenth of a second of him – but none could stop the four Renault-powered midfield cars advancing to Q3.

Inevitably the McLaren and Renault drivers had to use the soft compound tyres to do it. With most of the other drivers getting through on mediums, that could put them at a disadvantage for the race.

The Mercedes pair easily got through on the harder rubber. The Ferrari drivers took a different approach – both set times on softs initially, but Leclerc chose mediums for his final run and improved, heading the times overall. Albon, who earlier in the session had complained that he always has to leave the pits first, missing out on the benefit of a tow, went the other way, switching from mediums to softs for his last effort.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Sergio PerezRacing Point-Mercedes1’37.055
12Pierre GaslyToro Rosso-Honda1’37.089
13Lance StrollRacing Point-Mercedes1’37.103
14Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Honda1’37.141
15Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari1’37.254

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A tidy first effort by Hamilton gave him a comfortably three-tenths margin over his rivals. He was especially impressive in the final sector – a part of the track where he has usually been strong – where even Verstappen couldn’t get within two-tenth of a second of him.

The Red Bull driver was second after their first runs, followed by Bottas and the Ferraris. The red cars flew down the long straights in the first two sectors, but Charles Leclerc was dismayed to lose six-tenths of a second to Hamilton in the final third of the lap.

“Am I doing anything wrong in the last sector?” he asked on the radio, “Is Seb also losing this amount of lap time?” The team pointed out he had been a tenth faster than the other car on the first run.

It all went wrong for Leclerc on the final run. With cars backing off in front of him – the closest of which was Vettel – he wasn’t able to begin his last lap before the chequered flag fell. “We’re not going to make it, Seb is slowing down” he warned them shortly before reaching the start/finish line where the lights had turned red.

Fortunately for Leclerc, neither Vettel nor Albon improved sufficiently to demote him far. The final runs changed little: Verstappen lost second to Bottas, but will take it back when his rival is relegated to the back of the grid.

That left Hamilton sitting pretty, set to start the season finale from the front, and ending a 10-race streak without a pole position.

Top ten in Q3

1Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’34.779
2Valtteri BottasMercedes1’34.973
3Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’35.139
4Charles LeclercFerrari1’35.219
5Sebastian VettelFerrari1’35.339
6Alexander AlbonRed Bull-Honda1’35.682
7Lando NorrisMcLaren-Renault1’36.436
8Daniel RicciardoRenault1’36.456
9Carlos Sainz JnrMcLaren-Renault1’36.459
10Nico HulkenbergRenault1’36.710

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2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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45 comments on “Hamilton on pole as last-lap mix-up costs Leclerc his final run”

  1. Albon was the one who slowed down causing the domino effect.

    1. I think it was Sainz ahead of Albon who setup the chain effect behind though, with Albon slowing down to get a gap, which in turn forced Vettel to wait / hang around behind him and that led to Leclerc being left out. Vettel himself seemed to have only barely made it past the line before the red lights went on.

      1. On the repeat telecast they showed onboard from Vettel’s car and it showed Albon slowing down. I didnt know Sainz was the one who started the chain reaction. Guess leaving things till last second comes to bite again.

        1. Sainz was to slow and passed by serveral drivers ( including HAM and VER) and had to slow down to get enough space.

          1. Why are people blaming the drivers.
            Ferrari are 100% to blame for sending their drivers out too late. They missed out with Leclerc and nearly missed out with Seb as well.

            Too smart by half.

  2. Congrats to Lewis!
    Valtteri also did a great job, a shame he has to start at the back.

    Ferrari?.. Well, they found yet another way to mess up. That’s also an achievement of sorts.

    1. @dallein Yea indeed it is a shame that bottas has a penalty.
      Would be great to see a boring Mercedes 1-2 in stead of Bottas fighting his way through the field while Hamilton and Verstappen battle it out for the lead… Hahah not

      1. I’m all for sarcastic comedy but this example is pretty poor. Surely you can do better? The “not” thing dates back 30 odd years to the skater/stoner period of the early 90s. It was slightly funny the first 100 times. Kind of lost its effect 30 years later though. Still…at least you tried.

        1. So you are quite old then ;)

          1. Older than young Jesper by the Sounds of it.

  3. A while ago racefans had a post titled something like “Hamilton wins, Vettel spins, Grosjean crashes.” Here we are again.

    1. Hamilton wins, Vettel spins, Grosjean bins. And all the fault of the Finn(s).

      1. And all the fault of the Finn(s).

        Marcus Ericsson is Swedish.

        1. Yeah, it didn’t really work, I meant Bottas in practice!

        2. and he is not driving a F1 car.. so what’s your point??
          Kimi and Bottas are..

  4. Vettel is embarassing binning it on start of a lap lol, how is this guy defended he is woeful. And anyone else been really dissapointed by Norris lately? He should be getting better not worst, Sainz is being made to like Alonso vs Vandoorne at the minute. Sainz is not all that, Hulkenberg made him look silly. I was so impressed with Norris first half of the season the gap in points does not do him justice but he really is getting beat badly by Sainz lately

    1. I’d say HAM is at fault! If he knew how to drive the car, LEC would have made it.

      1. Montréalais (@)
        30th November 2019, 14:56

        ++ ROPLL (Rolling On the Pit Lane Laughing)

      2. dan Yes it’s odd how Norris seems to have dropped off since the middle of the season. Or perhaps Sainz improved?

        @mg1982 I’d say Hamilton showed them all how to drive the car in Q3. He got pole!

        Also, Mercedes clearly learned from the Monza debacle. Ferrari didn’t.

      3. Slow clap for MG. Bravo sir. You have now removed all doubt.

  5. Regardless of who held up Ferrari, they put themselves in this situation. Why wait until the last moment?
    LeClerc always seems to be the victim of their screwups although this one was obviously not intentional.

    1. To say Leclerc Is always victim of this kind of mess up tells me you haven’t seen any qualifying the entire year

  6. Ferrari = best car. No doubt that, excepting VET, RAI and LEC, anybody else could have won the champs with this car!

    1. @mg1982 Don’t worry, since they were told to stop cheating with the powertrain, they are down a lot on power all of a sudden.

    2. C’mon that is clearly not true. Mercedes were miles ahead of Ferrari and redbull for most of the season. The only reason Ferrari and redbull have caught up is because Mercedes stopped all development of their car after the german gp and redbull and Ferrari continued to develop theirs.

  7. Lol at albon asking why red bull always sends him out first, cause they gotta protect baby max

    1. Are you at it again Carlos? Get a life. Find a different hobby.

      1. They don’t send him out first? Got the figures?

    2. @carlosmedrano In this case it makes sense though. They want Verstappen to finish the season in P3 in front of both the stumbling horses.

    3. Just for once try to make a sensible remark, @carlosmedrano.
      Or at least stop using Ricciardo’s image; he deserves better ‘fans’.

    4. I know we shouldn’t really bother with your comments, but it made sense in Q2 to send him out early. He isn’t that good in getting to Q3 on the Mediums, at least not as good as Max. And if his time on mediums wasn’t enough for a Q3 appearence, than RedBull needed to run again (and in clean air) on the Softs. So they just played it safe. Punching holes in Q2 shouldn’t be such a problem for a RedBull, you don’t need to be absolute fastest, just fast enough.

  8. Maybe I’ve been blind for a while but it appears that Mercedes and Red Bull ? have a ‘wing/slat on top of the Halo bar, this must produce down-force and surely if the car gets upside down shatter in the helmet area.. how is this legal.

    1. (@budchekov if I remember correctly, other teams have used that, even right after the Halo was introduced.

      1. “if I remember correctly”
        Image search reveals you do :)

    2. @budchekov, it’s been legal to have a separate aero fairing over the top since they introduced the Halo, and they’re not the only ones – I believe that Toro Rosso were actually one of the first teams to turn up in pre-season testing with small aero pieces on the Halo when it was first introduced.

      1. Yep, my bad I should have a said Toro Rosso who I noticed are still using it, NOT Red Bull.


      Why so emotional over an airflow conditioning bit of carbon fiber?

      If you want to nanny racing, get a job with the fia, otherwise, stop trying to ruin the sport!

      A bit of stationary cf, hit by a car going 200mph will damage a helmet visor…. a tiny flap getting smushed under a car in a crash doesn’t magically explode like a stick of dynamite… IT DOESNT WORK LIKE THAT! This comment section is becoming more and more failbait every day.

      Sad. He’ll probably get cotd for it too.

      1. At least @budchekov admitted his error and isn’t ‘shouting’ like you :P

  9. The Ferrari drivers should’ve gone out on track 20 seconds earlier for both to be safe.

    1. @jerejj Would that have helped though? Wouldn’t they still have been at the back of the train of cars?

      They should have gone before at least one of the cars that went ahead of them ‘for sure’.

      Not that it mattered anyway.

  10. Hamilton spent yesterday ‘trying out new things’ (whatever they were) in preparation for next season and his aim of beating Bottas in qualifying more often. Today he promptly beat Bottas clearly and fairly comprehensively despite Bottas having a new engine he can push as much as he wants given it has to see out just one race weekend.

    1. Remarkably to me Hamilton has won the title this year with the fewest poles since button won in 2009.

      1. @dmw The most remarkable is how he won so decisively despite that fact. Maybe it’s a reflection of both Bottas and Ferrari focusing on qualifying as a means to beat him/Mercedes?

        1. @dmw @david-br Could be a simple case of acknowledging that races are won on Sundays, and going more for a good race setup, though it must be a bit hard for one that seems to love the time trial… But I guess the result speaks for itself (in case he actually did go for a race setup).

        2. There is an irony in Bottas (porridge power) and Ferrari (qualifying engine mode) focusing on qualification to beat Hamilton, and succeeding at that, but still losing badly in the end. Leclerc alone has 7 poles! You need a complete package of car and driver to beat him.

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