Sebastian Vettel will be bowing out of Formula 1 following an impressive qualifying performance in Abu Dhabi, which saw the German progress all the way to Q3 in his Aston Martin.
It initially looked like the 35-year-old would be eliminated in Q1, before a stellar late lap saw Vettel fly up the timing screens and give fans one last glimpse at his single lap pace.
Vettel currently holds the record for most pole positions in a single season, and his performance in Abu Dhabi will have reminded everyone exactly why he holds this record.
It was not plain sailing for the retiring German however, after he has to deal with heavy traffic when attempting his flying laps in each of the three sessions, with Red Bull in particular getting on Vettel’s nerves.
Vettel had to dodge and weave five cars in the last sector of his final Q1 lap, with Yuki Tsunoda doing very well to vacate the racing line going into the final corner of the Yas Marina circuit.
The four-time world champion’s main frustrations came when he repeatedly encountered slow moving Red Bulls when approaching the final corner, as both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were winding up for a fast lap attempt.
The Red Bull drivers were going too slow for Vettel’s liking, as he took to the team radio to express his annoyance at his repeated encounters that were jeopardising his laps attempts.
“How is that possible? Three times in a row I get these people,” he exclaimed over the radio.
“They don’t back off. It’s a tenth in the last corner!”
Vettel’s former employers fortunately did not affect his progression through the sessions, as he dealt with the traffic on track to storm his way to P9 on the grid.
Aston Martin will be delighted with Vettel’s final qualifying session, as Valtteri Bottas failed to escape Q1 in his Alfa Romeo, giving the Finn’s team a disadvantage going into Sunday’s race.
Alfa Romeo are currently only five points ahead of Aston Martin in the constructors’ championship, meaning that Vettel has a chance to end his career on a high with the opportunity to help his team leapfrog their rivals at the final race of the season staring him in the face.
Vettel’s teammate Lance Stroll will also be starting the race ahead of both Alfa Romeo drivers, putting the battle for sixth place arguably in their own hands.