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Qualifying - Hamilton on pole for title showdown

26 Nov 2016

Lewis Hamilton kept his championship hopes firmly alive by soundly beating points-leading Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg to pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session for the 2016 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Three-tenths of a second separated the title rivals, who will have Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen immediately behind them on the grid.


Pos. No. Driver Team Time Fastest Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton HAM Mercedes 1:38.755 6
2 6 Nico Rosberg ROS Mercedes 1:39.058 6
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo RIC Red Bull Racing 1:39.589 6
4 7 Kimi Räikkönen RAI Ferrari 1:39.604 6
5 5 Sebastian Vettel VET Ferrari 1:39.661 6
6 33 Max Verstappen VER Red Bull Racing 1:39.818 5
7 27 Nico Hulkenberg HUL Force India 1:40.501 6
8 11 Sergio Perez PER Force India 1:40.519 6
9 14 Fernando Alonso ALO McLaren 1:41.106 6
10 19 Felipe Massa MAS Williams 1:41.213 3

Sebastian Vettel finished fifth for Ferrari, while a mistake on his final run restricted Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to sixth. Notably, Verstappen and team mate Ricciardo are the only top-ten runners who will start Sunday’s race on the more durable supersoft tyre.

The Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez took seventh and eighth, with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Williams’ Felipe Massa completing the top ten.

Q1 saw Hamilton obliterate everyone with a superb lap of 1m 39.487s, to which Rosberg’s reply was a modest 1m 40.511s which was eventually only good enough for fifth as Raikkonen and Vettel maintained Ferrari’s FP3 performance with 1m 40.338s and 1m 40.341s. As Verstappen took fourth with 1m 40.424s, Ricciardo struggled to eighth on 1m 41.002s.

Further back, Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein jumped into Q2 with 1m 41.886s, leaving Daniil Kvyat as the first faller for Toro Rosso on 1m 42.003, ahead of Renault’s Kevin Magnussen on 1m 42.142s, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr on 1m 42.247s, Esteban Ocon in the second Manor on 1m 42.286s, Carlos Sainz in the second Toro Rosso on 1m 42.393s and Marcus Ericsson in the second Sauber on 1m 42.637s.

Hamilton dominated Q2 with 1m 39.382s, but Rosberg was second with a much more convincing 1m 39.490s from Raikkonen on 1m 39.629s and Verstappen, on 1m 39.903s. Red Bull alone ran the supersofts instead of the ultrasofts, meaning they will start on the longer-lasting - but slower - rubber.

As Alonso took 10th, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas led those who failed to get through, with 1m 41.084s, just 0.40s off the Spaniard’s time. McLaren’s Jenson Button improved to 1m 41.272s but it was not enough to get him into Q3 for the last time, as Esteban Gutierrez again out-qualified Haas team mate Romain Grosjean, 1m 41.490s to 1m 41.564s. Jolyon Palmer was 15th on 1m 41.820s for Renault, as Wehrlein completed the group with 1m 41.995s.

Hamilton again nailed it on the first runs in Q3 with a lap of 1m 39.013s against Rosberg’s 1m 39.359s, and he maintained that on the second runs with a stunning 1m 38.755s which left Rosberg gasping just a little, even though he too improved, to 1m 39.058s.

Behind them, Ricciardo displaced Raikkonen for third on their second runs; the Australian improved to 1m 39.589s and the Finn also improved, to 1m 39.604s, but not enough to stay ahead.

Verstappen was on for improvement too, but ran off the road in Turn 11. That let Vettel up to fifth with 1m 39.661s, as the Dutchman had to rely on his first run time of 1m 39.818s.

Behind them, Hulkenberg took seventh for Force India with 1m 40.501s from team mate Perez on 1m 40.519s. Alonso underlined McLaren’s improvements with ninth on 1m 41.106s, and Massa will start his final Grand Prix 10th, after lapping his Williams in 1m 41.213s.

Thus the provisional grid lines up: Hamilton, Rosberg; Ricciardo, Raikkonen; Vettel, Verstappen; Hulkenberg, Perez; Alonso, Massa; Bottas, Button; Gutierrez, Grosjean; Palmer, Wehrlein; Kvyat, Magnussen; Nasr, Ocon; Sainz, Ericsson.

Rosberg may have a 12-point advantage heading into Sunday's title-deciding race, but for now the momentum is with Hamilton - it was his first pole at Yas Marina against the German since they became team mates, his 12th of the season and his 61st overall.

WATCH: Qualifying highlights from Abu Dhabi