Lewis Hamilton dominated the final qualifying session of the 2016 Formula 1 season as he took pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by more than three-tenths of a second from team-mate and championship rival Nico Rosberg.
The first runs saw Hamilton take the advantage with a stunning lap of 1:39.013, with Rosberg 0.346 seconds back, but the reigning World Champion improved still further to a 1:38.755, and despite being faster in the first sector, the German could not get closer than a 1:39.058, 0.303 seconds down.
It was the fourteenth front row lockout for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team of the season, and the twentieth pole position of the year, twelve of which have been taken by Hamilton.
The pole gives Hamilton the advantage for race day at the Yas Marina Circuit, but even if he wins on Sunday he knows Rosberg will need to finish off the podium to be able to take a third consecutive championship.
Daniel Ricciardo jumped up to third in the final moments of the qualifying session in the leading of the Red Bull Racing machines, but a mistake at turn eleven on his final run denied team-mate Max Verstappen the opportunity to improve, with the Dutchman down in sixth as a result.
In between the Red Bull’s were the two Scuderia Ferrari drivers, with Kimi Raikkonen getting the better of team-mate Sebastian Vettel for the eleventh time in 2016, this time by just 0.057 seconds.
Nico Hülkenberg secured seventh on the grid for his final outing with the Sahara Force India F1 Team before he leaves for the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team for 2017 and beyond, with the German outpacing team-mate Sergio Perez by just 0.018 seconds.
Fernando Alonso was able to make it through to the final segment of qualifying, with the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team racer ending up ninth on the grid, albeit 2.351 seconds down on Hamilton’s pole time.
Felipe Massa also advanced to the top ten shootout for his 250th and final Grand Prix before he retires, with the Williams Martini Racing driver qualifying tenth on the grid.
Valtteri Bottas was unable to follow team-mate Massa into the top ten shootout, missing out by just 0.040 seconds, while Jenson Button’s final race weekend before his sabbatical saw the second McLaren driver finish only twelfth fastest, finishing 0.228 seconds down on team-mate Alonso in the session.
Esteban Gutierrez managed to out-qualify his Haas F1 Team team-mate Romain Grosjean in his final outing for the team, the duo separated by just 0.084 seconds, although the latter endured a tough opening to the session with a half spin in Q1 at turn eighteen.
Jolyon Palmer made it through once more to Q2, and the Renault driver finished the session in fifteenth, while Manor Racing MRT’s Pascal Wehrlein did another great job to put his MRT05 sixteenth in his fifth appearance in the second segment of qualifying for the German.
Scuderia Toro Rosso’s nightmare weekend continued as both drivers found themselves eliminated in the first session, with Daniil Kvyat only seventeenth and Carlos Sainz Jr twenty-first. The team have had a disjointed weekend with tyre rim failures for Kvyat on Friday and subsequent fixes being made to ensure the cars are safe to run, with final practice on Saturday morning being used primarily to check if the fixes worked.
A lock-up on entry to turn seventeen on his final lap saw Kevin Magnussen qualify only eighteenth in his final race for Renault before he switches to the Haas team for 2017, while Felipe Nasr was nineteenth in the leading of the Sauber F1 Team machines ahead of Manor’s Esteban Ocon, Sainz and Marcus Ericsson, who will bring up the rear for the final race of the year.
Yas Marina Circuit Qualifying Result
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