Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes after securing the pole position for Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton underlined his status with an 88th career pole with a new record as the Mercedes ace dominated the qualifying at the F1 Etihad Airways 2019 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton turned on the pace in his very last lap to log a time of 1:34.779 while handing himself a fifth pole position this season — bettering his existing mark of 1:34.794 in Abu Dhabi that was set during qualifying last season. Saturday’s run also ended the champion’s drought of poles, dating back to Germany in July. His 88th pole now takes the British driver 20 ahead of Michael Schumacher’s 68 on the all-time list.

This was also Hamilton’s 10th front row start at Yas Marina, that in fact, ties the record for most front rows at any venue. A front-row start has proved crucial at Yas Marina with five victories from pole positions — including the last four races — and four wins starting from P2 on the grid. While it was Hamilton who laid down the marker, his teammate Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen followed in second and third with 1:34.973 and 1:35.139, respectively.

This was the sixth time that Mercedes has won pole position here starting from back-to-back places from Nico Rosberg (2014 and 2015), followed by Hamilton (2016, 2018) and Bottas (2017).

Hamilton is the most successful driver in Abu Dhabi has won the race here on four previous occasions — in 2011 for McLaren followed by 2014, 2016 and 2018 for Mercedes. Only Vettel is in a position to match him with three wins here — in 2009, 2010 and 2013 — all for Red Bull Racing.