Hamilton starts second after a slight set-up error in the cooling evening conditions during the twilight qualifying session
Lewis Hamilton is hoping for any kind of competitive scrap to give him a chance of winning today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after qualifying second behind team-mate Valtteri Bottas on Saturday.
The 32-year-old newly-crowned four-time world champion blamed himself for a slight set-up error in the cooling evening conditions during the twilight qualifying session.
"I just hope it’s not like a train," the Mercedes man told reporters. “I hope that there’s some sort of battle whether it’s degradation, or pit stops, or whatever.
"Practice had gone well this morning,” he said. “I was really comfortable with the car, but this track gets cooler in the afternoon so you make some changes to counteract it.
"I may have gone too far - probably I have gone too far. I was fighting the car the whole time….”
Hamilton was fastest in practice, but could not translate that speed into pole position later in the day when the nearest Ferrari – of four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel – was half a second off the pace of Bottas.
"I wasn’t expecting that, but generally when it gets cooler that bodes well for us,” said Hamilton, who praised Bottas.
“Valtteri did an exceptional job and he deserved to have pole this time.”
Finn Bottas set a new circuit lap record as he scorched to pole position for the second consecutive race and fourth time in his career.
The spectacular modern Yas Marina Circuit looks wonderful with its changing lighting and floodlights around the track, but has a reputation for processional racing.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo hopes to end his 2017 season with a podium finish after he split the Ferraris to secure fourth on the grid.
The Australian produced a fast finale in Q3 to leap ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari just as the session came to an end.
“I’m happy with that as I felt we had the pace to be on the second row and I would have been disappointed if did not show it.
“I really thought if I put a good lap together we could sneak ahead of at least one Ferrari. We are close and we can fight for the podium.”
His Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen settled for sixth after a difficult session following a struggle to find an effective set-up for his car.
"The whole weekend already I was struggling with the balance and not happy with it," he said.
"Sometimes you have those days. You just have to accept it’s not going to be your day, you’re just fighting the car a lot.
“You still try to do the best possible job but that was sixth today."
“I don’t know what went wrong otherwise for sure we would have changed it. What we have to do now is understand what it was and hopefully we can learn something for tomorrow."