Valtteri Bottas starts the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from pole position after Mercedes dominated qualifying, claiming their fourth successive lock out at the Yas Marina circuit.
As the sun set over the Yas Marina and the lights surrounding the circuit took effect, it was Mercedes’ qualifying to lose.
First Bottas and then Lewis Hamilton broke the lap record – down into the 1:36s – in Q2 as they laid down a marker ahead of the all-important pole position shoot-out.
Moving into Q3 the Ferrari drivers joined the Mercedes pairing in the 1:36s, however, it was still a Mercedes 1-2 in the early running.
A 1:36.231 for Bottas put him onto provisional pole by 0.172s ahead of Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel in third place was 0.628s down.
As the track temperature fell to 29’C, the top-ten ventured out for a second run on the ultrasoft Pirellis.
Bottas was not able to improve his time in the first sector, nor the second, while Hamilton went purple and purple.
Bottas’s overall time wasn’t better than his previous with Hamilton crossing the line seconds later having lost time in the final sector and also failing to improve.
Vettel was third, 0.546s down, while Daniel Ricciardo qualified in fourth place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen.
Nico Hulkenberg was best of the rest ahead of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon.
Felipe Massa qualified 10th for the final grand prix of his F1 career while Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson, who have yet to learn whether they’ll be in F1 next season, were P18 and 19.
Brendon Hartley, facing a 10-place grid penalty, was slowest of all as he struggled to put in a clean lap.
1 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:36.231
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:36.403 0.172
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:36.777 0.546
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:36.959 0.728
5 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:36.985 0.754
6 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:37.328 1.097
7 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Sport 1:38.282 2.051
8 Sergio Perez Force India 1:38.374 2.143
9 Esteban Ocon Force India 1:38.397 2.166
10 Felipe Massa Williams 1:38.550 2.319
11 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:38.636
12 Carlos Sainz Renault Sport 1:38.725
13 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:38.808
14 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:39.298
15 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:39.516
15 Lance Stroll Williams 1:39.646
16 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:39.516
17 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso 1:39.724
18 Pascal Wehrlein Sauber 1:40.207
19 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:40.387
20 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso 1:40.471