Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton secured his twelfth and his Mercedes team’s 20th pole position of the 2016 Formula One Championship season. For Hamilton, it is the 61st pole position of his career, his fourth in a row, and his third at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Lewis was impeccable and unbeatable from his very first lap in the opening to his last in the third and final session where he became the only driver to record a time in the 1:38’s. In fact, the only session he didn’t top all weekend was the third free practice session earlier in the evening.
“It's been an awesome weekend so far. It's rare that you end almost every session on top, so I'm very, very happy, with that. It's down to the hard work done by the mechanics and the engineers to get the car where I need it, so I'm grateful to them for that, as always,” he said afterwards. “I felt so great out there tonight. It's really sad that this is the last Qualifying session we're going to do in this car!”
“It's a dream for any driver to have something this good to drive. I've been doing my practice starts from the pole slot all weekend as I wasn't planning on being anywhere else for tomorrow. I came here knowing that was a big part of what I needed this weekend and, now I've got that, I can focus on the race. Getting away in front will be the next important step.”
“You need a big pace delta to overtake here, so the start will be crucial. Tonight, though, I need to look at strategy and how things need to work for me to get the win. At the moment, my pace is that little bit better. But I can't control what happens behind me. All I can do is focus on my own race. You never know what might get thrown into the mix, so I'm just hoping my car is as beautiful as it has been so far this weekend and aiming for the win.”
Starting alongside Lewis on the front row is none other than his title challenger, Nico Rosberg, who heads into the final race here this eventing 12 points ahead of Hamilton. So, even if Hamilton does find the right strategy to claim victory, all Rosberg needs to do is finish on the podium to take the first ever Formula One crown of his career.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo will be hoping to throw his Red Bull into the ring and take a podium finish as well with a third place grid spot. The Aussie racer is on a different strategy to the two Mercedes in front of him after setting his best time in Q2 on the slower supersoft rubber versus the ultrasoft. While this means he won’t be as quick at the start, it means he will be able to go longer into the race and hopefully score positions and time as a result.
Alongside Daniel on row two is the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, who also out-qualified his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, who qualified in fifth. Max Verstappen, who had a moment on his final lying lap, could only muster the sixth fastest time, followed by the two Force India’s of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez on row four and former Ferrari teammates, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa on row five.
Qualifying from Abu Dhabi
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:38.755
2. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, + 0.303
3. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, + 0.834
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, + 0.849
5. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, + 0.906
6. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, + 1.063
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, + 1.746
8. Sergio Perez, Force India, + 1.764
9. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, + 2.351
10. Felipe Massa, Williams, + 2.458
11. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:41.084
12. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:41.272
13. Esteban Gutierrez, Haas, 1:41.480
14. Romain Grosjean, Haas, 1:41.564
15. Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1:41.820
16. Pascal Wehrlein, Manor, 1:41.995
17. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1:42.003
18. Kevin Magnussen, Renault, 1:42.142
19. Felipe Nasr, Sauber, 1:42.247
20. Esteban Ocon, Manor, 1:42.286
21. Carlos Sainz, Toro Rosso, 1:42.393
22. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:42.637
(Times courtesy of Sky Sports)