Hamilton secures crucial pole by 0.3s from Rosberg

©WRi2

Lewis Hamilton took a crucial pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he beat title rival Nico Rosberg by 0.3s at the Yas Marina Circuit.

Hamilton’s first lap in Q3 lay down the challenge for Rosberg as he set the pace by 0.3s, with Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo a similar distance adrift. Both Mercedes drivers improved by a similar margin on their final attempts, with Rosberg quickest in sector one but Hamilton responding in the second and third sectors to take the 61st pole position of his career with a 1:38.755.

While unable to beat Hamilton, Rosberg will be content after continuing his run of consecutive top two qualifying results stretching back to the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix. Rosberg only needs to finish in the top three to be champion on Sunday and ended up half a second clear of Ricciardo in third, who pipped Raikkonen on the final attempts.

Sebastian Vettel will start from fifth ahead of Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman making an error on his final run and aborting his lap. Verstappen needs to outscore Vettel by five points to secure fourth in the drivers' championship this season.

The Force India pair of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were seventh and eighth respectively, nearly two seconds slower than Hamilton but 0.6s clear of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

The second part of qualifying saw the focus on the Red Bull drivers, with Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo reaching Q3 on the supersoft compound tyre, meaning they will start on that tyre on Sunday. The rest of the top ten, however, will be on the ultrasoft. Alonso managed to take tenth place with his final run to surprisingly outqualify Valtteri Bottas, with Jenson Button in 12th place in his final qualifying session.

The Haas pair of Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean will make up the seventh row - with Gutierrez getting the better of his team-mate in his last qualifying for the team - with Jolyon Palmer and Pascal Wehrlein unable to improve on their Q1 times on used tyres.

Q1 saw Hamilton set the pace by a comfortable margin, with team-mate Rosberg making “two big mistakes” by his own admission and ending the session in fifth place. Mercedes youngster Wehrlein impressed with a lap good enough to reach Q2, knocking out Daniil Kvyat in 17th place. Kvyat’s lap was a good one after so little running, beating team-mate Carlos Sainz by 0.4s as both Toro Rossos dropped out following wheel rim issues on Friday.

Kevin Magnussen was also a surprise elimination as he was easily beaten by team-mate Palmer. The Briton had held the advantage all weekend and was 0.4s quicker than Magnussen, who dropped out alongside Felipe Nasr, Esteban Ocon, Sainz and Marcus Ericsson.

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Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:39.487 1:39.382 1:38.755
02 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:40.511 1:39.490 1:39.058
03 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:41.002 1:40.429 1:39.589
04 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:40.338 1:39.629 1:39.604
05 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:40.341 1:40.034 1:39.661
06 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:40.424 1:39.903 1:39.818
07 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:41.000 1:40.709 1:40.501
08 Sergio Perez Force India 1:40.864 1:40.743 1:40.519
09 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:41.616 1:41.044 1:41.106
10 Felipe Massa Williams 1:41.157 1:40.858 1:41.213
11 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:41.192 1:41.084
12 Jenson Button McLaren 1:41.158 1:41.272
13 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1:41.639 1:41.480
14 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:41.467 1:41.564
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1:41.775 1:41.820
16 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1:41.886 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