Recapping all of the additional news and notes from the Yas Marina Circuit following Saturday's final practice and qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Crash.net F1 Digital Editor Luke Smith brings you his paddock notebook.

 

- Lewis Hamilton continued to buck the trend of his previous dips in form after early title wins by taking his 11thpole of the year in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Hamilton beat Mercedes’ teammate Valtteri Bottas by 0.162 seconds in the final stage of qualifying.

- With 11 poles, Hamilton has tied his personal record for the most poles in a season, matching his tally from 2014. He also ends the year with more than double the number of poles of any other driver, finishing six clear of Sebastian Vettel (5).

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- It marked the fifth straight year Mercedes has locked out the front row of the grid in Abu Dhabi, a record stretching back throughout the V6 hybrid era.

- Sebastian Vettel was left to settle for P3 on the grid for Ferrari after a sloppy final sector saw him fall out of contention for pole, losing half a second on Hamilton in that portion of the track. Vettel is aiming to end Ferrari’s winless streak at the Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday.

- Max Verstappen was left to angrily vent about his lap being a “f**king disaster” over team radio at the end of Q3, having qualified P6. However, he later clarified this was frustration with himself, and not down to anything else on the car or power unit.

- Teammate Daniel Ricciardo will make his final start for Red Bull from P5 on the grid. Ricciardo said he did not wish to overthink the importance of Sunday’s race: “I’m just ready to say goodbye and do a good race, finish strong, try and have a good chat on the radio and say some funny shit.”

- Ricciardo admitted he was concerned after his FP3 stoppage, only for Red Bull to later find that it was a water leak that was able to be rectified in time for qualifying a couple of hours later.

- Romain Grosjean felt his lap to secure P7 on the grid for Haas was one of the best of his F1 career. Grosjean edged out Sauber’s Charles Leclerc to finish as the top midfield driver in qualifying in Abu Dhabi.

- Grosjean escaped a penalty for his runin with Pierre Gasly during FP3 on Saturday, with the pair making contact at Turn 17. Grosjean’s engineer was quick to apologise for not telling him Gasly was close, with the stewards being satisfied by the explanation given.

- The only penalty handed down on Saturday was to Kimi Raikkonen, who received a reprimand for cutting the white line at pit entry in FP3 after opting to continue onto the start/finish straight at the last minute.

- Gasly was left frustrated as an engine failure 200 metres before the finish line on his final Q1 lap prevented him from advancing to Q2. Gasly said an engine change before the race may be possible, but that there are spares in the pool.

- The F1 paddock said farewell to Fernando Alonso with a special BBQ on Saturday evening, in which Alonso was honoured with a special print from F1 chiefs Chase Carey and Sean Bratches. The Yas Marina Circuit also confirmed it will be renaming its drivers’ briefing room after Alonso, as well as keeping the artwork it put up in the room for his final race intact.

- A number of key figures from Alonso’s F1 career paid tribute to the Spaniard with video messages, including former Renault boss Flavio Briatore, who said he gave Alonso a maximum of a year before he would be looking to return to F1.

- Alonso did confirm that he would be interested in a fulltime return to racing in 2020, saying this could come in either IndyCar or F1.

- Alonso completed a clean sweep of qualifying wins over McLaren teammate Stoffel Vandoorne, ending the year with a 21-0 victory on Saturdays. The last driver to outqualify their teammate at every race in a season was Alonso, who did so in 2008 with Nelson Piquet Jr.

- Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was in the paddock in Abu Dhabi on Saturday with McLaren ahead of his car swap event with Fernando Alonso in Bahrain on Monday. Johnson has been preparing for the car swap by completing running in the McLaren simulator.

- Haas F1 boss Günther Steiner confirmed the team has expressed its intent to appeal the stewards’ decision to dismiss its protest against Force India’s cars, giving it a 96 hour window in which to make a final decision on whether or not it will proceed with its appeal.

- The stewards dismissed Haas’ assertion that Force India was in breach of the regulations on Saturday morning, but, playing into the ongoing row over prize money, they did clarify that Racing Point Force India is deemed to be a new team, separate to the Sahara Force India entry that raced until the Belgian Grand Prix in August.

- Mercedes junior and 2019 Williams F1 driver George Russell was crowned Formula 2 champion on Saturday in Abu Dhabi, clinching the title with one race to spare by taking a convincing victory in the feature race from pole position.

- Renault-linked youngster Anthoine Hubert was crowned GP3's final-ever champion on Saturday ahead of the series' evolution into Formula 3 for 2019, taking third place in the opening race of the weekend that was won by Leonardo Pulcini.

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