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Hamilton praises 'exceptional job' from Bottas

Valtteri Bottas, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
© XPB 

Lewis Hamilton was full of praise for his Mercedes team mate Valtteri Bottas after qualifying for the final race of the season, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Bottas took pole position with a time of 1:36.231s, which was new track record at Yas Marina Circuit. Hamilton was unable to close the gap and ended up 0.172s slower.

"What a lap! He just had an incredible qualifying," Hamilton said. "Valtteri did an exceptional job, so I'm really really happy for him.

"The last qualifying of the year, I gave it everything," he insisted. "I seemed to lose a little pace going into qualifying.

"Overall, just little bits here and there," he explained. "I was up a think a tenth and a half out of turn 1, and I lost it in turn 5 or 6.

"Either way, it's been an incredible year of qualifying, and one I've really enjoyed," he summed up. "And it's great to see so many British flags here, so many people here today - I appreciate it."

For Bottas, Saturday's qualifying was a sign of a resurgence in the Finn's pace. He's struggled to match his early season performance since the summer, but now finishes the year with back-to-back poles.

"Things were really getting better and better for me during the practice session, also in the qualie," said Bottas. "Just managed to find time here and there. It was all under control.

"Just felt really good in the car," he continued." The Q3 run 1 lap was really good and that was enough for pole, so I'm really happy."

However, Bottas will be keenly aware of what happened last time out in Brazil, where he lost the lead to Sebastian Vettel at the start.

"I was so gutted in Brazil," Bottas admitted. "Being on pole and missing the win. I have a clear target for tomorrow!"

Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda was delighted to see Bottas back on top in the final qualifying session of the season.

"I'm very happy for him," Lauda told Sky Sports F1. "He really needs the car he likes to drive - his driving style needs to fit the behaviour of the car. Here we've got the car very well set up."

Bottas still has a mathematical chance of pipping Sebastian Vettel to the runners-up spot in the drivers championship. However, Lauda didn't believe that this was genuinely realistic.

"I think this is impossible with the point difference, unless Vettel has a problem which I doubt," he said. "Nevertheless they will race each other as always and we will see the outcome."

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