Abu Dhabi - Lewis
Hamilton claimed pole for Sunday's title-showdown Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
by outpacing his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg in Saturday’s tense and
dramatic qualifying at the Yas Marina circuit.
The defending three-time champion dominated the session and clocked a
fastest time in one minute and 38.755 seconds to beat the
championship-leading German by three-tenths of a second.
Hamilton’s performance gives him the ideal opportunity to claim a
fourth consecutive victory in Sunday's race in which Rosberg can secure
his maiden drivers title if he finishes on the podium.
Hamilton, who trails Rosberg by 12 points, said: "I didn’t over-cook into turn one and after that I was in total control.
"It's been a great weekend so far.
"I've got the car in a real sweet spot, with some great work done by
my engineers and faultless mechanics who've done an incredible job."
"Lewis did an incredible job - a really incredible job - and you
can’t say more," said Mercedes team non-executive chairman Niki Lauda.
It is the Briton 12th pole of the season, a personal record, his
third in Abu Dhabi and the 61st of his career. In the process, he ended
Rosberg’s hopes of a third consecutive pole at the circuit.
Rosberg reflected: "I came here to take pole and win the race and so I am not ecstatic about today, but Lewis did a great job.
"I felt good out there and had a good balance and got a good lap in the end, but it wasn’t good enough."
Australian Daniel Ricciardo produced a scorching late lap to take
third for Red Bull ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and his Ferrari team-mate
Sebastian Vettel and Dutch teenager Max Verstappen in the second Red
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh for Force India ahead of his team-mate
Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso of McLaren and retirement-bound Brazilian
Felipe Massa who was 10th for Williams.
As the sun went down in a blaze of distant late heat,
retirement-bound 2009 champion Jenson Button was on top after eight
minutes to the delight of his mother and sister, grinning in the McLaren
Hamilton and Rosberg joined the fray with the defending champion
clocking his lap in 1:39.487 to go top ahead of his Mercedes team-mate
by a full second.
By the end of Q1, Hamilton’s lap remained quickest ahead of both Ferraris and Verstappen ahead of Rosberg.
Out went Daniil Kvyat in his Toro Rosso together with Kevin Magnussen
of Renault, Felipe Nasr of Sauber and Esteban Ocon of Manor.
Surprisingly, Carlos Sainz was also eliminated in 21st place in the second Toro Rosso ahead of Marcus Ericsson of Sauber.
Pascal Wehrlein escaped the ‘drop
six’ and made it into Q2 in the final seconds together with Jolyon
Palmer of Renault. “Whooo-hoo, easy-peasy,” sang Wehrlein on team radio.
Hamilton was quickly out and back on top in Q2 with an improved lap in 1:39.382.
That was good enough for him to lead the way as Rosberg tried to
eliminate a few minor errors and draw level, finishing one-tenth down
but ahead of Raikkonen and Verstappen.
In a final flurry of action, Massa and Alonso made it through to the
top ten shootout and knocked their respective team-mates Bottas and
They missed out along with Mexican Esteban Gutierrez and his Haas
team-mate Frenchman Romain Grosjean, Palmer and Wehrlein as darkness
descended and the track temperature dropped to 29 degrees Celsius.
Hamilton was out swiftly again to improve with an initial lap in
1:39.013 ahead of Rosberg, who pushed hard, but was still down by
three-tenths of a second again in second place.
It set up a dramatic finale with Hamilton out first again to prove his mastery again with a smooth and supreme performance.
The starting grid for Sunday's Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix following final qualifying at Yas Marina circuit on Saturday:
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Red Bull)
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Ferrari)
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Ferrari)
Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull)
Nico Hülkenberg (GER/Force India)
Sergio Perez (MEX/Force India)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/McLaren)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Williams)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams)
Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren)
Esteban Gutierrez (MEX/Haas)
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Haas)
Jolyon Palmer (GBR/Renault)
Pascal Wehrlein (GER/Manor)
Daniil Kvyat (RUS/Toro Rosso)
Kevin Magnussen (DEN/Renault)
Felipe Nasr (BRA/Sauber-Ferrari)
Estéban Ocon (FRA/Manor-Mercedes)
Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Toro Rosso)
Marcus Ericsson (SWE/Sauber)