The final Formula One race weekend of the 2018 season in Abu Dhabi is one filled with goodbyes. Many drivers like Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne, Marcus Ericsson and Esteban Ocon will almost certainly leave the sport until at least 2020. With no championship to decide, we also anticipate the beginning of a new season in the spring. Daniel Ricciardo will move to Renault while Pierre Gasly jumps to Red Bull. Kimi Raikkonen and Charles Leclerc will, in essence, swap rides. Lando Norris and George Russell will make their debuts and Robert Kubica returns to the series.
But as change prepares to descend on the sport, there’s one name still consistently on top of the charts.
Lewis Hamilton is still firing on all cylinders weeks after winning his fifth title. He secured his 11th pole of the season and 83rd of his career with a flawless performance thus far in Abu Dhabi. His time of one minute, 34.794 seconds was two-tenths faster than the rest of the field.
Valtteri Bottas qualified second, securing yet another Mercedes front-row lockout. Sebastian Vettel was third ahead of Raikkonen in fourth, running his final race for Ferrari. The Red Bull teammates of Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were fifth and sixth, respectively. Romain Grosjean was seventh ahead of Leclerc in eighth. Ocon was ninth and Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10.
Carlos Sainz missed out on the top 10 in qualifying by .018 of a second and will start 11th. Marcus Ericsson was 12th ahead of Kevin Magnussen in 13th. Sergio Perez will roll off Sunday in 14th while Alonso ends his final F1 qualifying session as the slowest car in Q2 in 15th.
Brendan Hartley ended his 2018 qualifying season in Q1 qualifying in 16th. Gasly’s car lost power coming to the line at the end of Q1 and could not improve his time; he will start 17th. Vandoorne was out-qualified by his McLaren teammate, Alonso, and ended up 18th.
The 11th Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that will end the 2018 F1 season will go lights out on Sunday around 8:05 a.m. ET. TV coverage will be provided in the U.S. by ESPN2.