“I’m probably the closest with this car than I have ever been with any cars in terms of emotionally attached.” Lewis Hamilton revealed the close bond he had developed with his Mercedes W09 after stepping out of the car and giving it a kiss having taken pole position for the season finale at Yas Marina.
That was the five-time world champion’s 11th pole position of the season – and with Valtteri Bottas lining up alongside him in second, it means Mercedes become the first F1 constructor in history to take five consecutive front row lockouts at any circuit on the calendar.
“It was quite an emotional qualifying session for me because this is the last time I am going to be qualifying in this car,” he said. “I know you guys watch it but the emotional rollercoaster that I’ve gone through with this car – I’m probably the closest with this car than I have ever been with any cars in terms of emotionally attached. It has not been the easiest, it has been a struggle at times with her but it has been a real privilege to work with her this year.
“It’s been such a journey this year. So many things have happened, so many trials and tribulations along the way.
“I am just so grateful for the team and everyone that put it together. To my guys, my mechanics for what they’ve done for me for the last three years or whatever it might be. Their diligence, the guys back at the factory, I am really so grateful to everyone.
“Today was so much fun to be able to go out there and express myself and push the car the way you want. There is no better feeling. To come back and see the reception from the fans – I really do appreciate it.”
Hamilton’s title rival Sebastian Vettel appeared to have the edge after the first segment of qualifying, but it was in Q2 that the Mercedes driver really showed his pace. His lap on the ultrasofts was outstanding as he topped the times ahead of the hypersoft-shod Max Verstappen.