Lewis Hamilton takes 61st pole for title decider in Abu Dhabi
By: S.Harding, Xiro Xone News November 26, 2016 Updated: 11:57 PM
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton grabbed his 61st career pole position for the championship showdown at Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“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. 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,” said Hamilton.
Hamilton beat Rosberg by 0.303s with Rosberg finishing with a 1:39.058. However, Rosberg only needs a top three finish to secure his first world championship while Hamilton must win and hope two cars finish between him and Rosberg.
“I was feeling good in the car today and put in some good laps at the end. But Lewis did a great job and was just a few tenths quicker. I’ m still in a good position to win the race and I want to end the season on a high. There are a few opportunities tomorrow, so I look forward to an exciting battle.,” said Rosberg.
Daniel Ricciardo could be one of those possibilities after finishing third on the grid behind Rosberg. Ricciardo and Verstappen will both start the race on super-soft tires with Mercedes also choosing to use the super-soft tire while the rest of the top ten will be using ultra-softs.
“I’m definitely pleased I got the third place I was after. It feels really good. This morning was hard, I did a run quite early and I was nearly a second off Max so it didn’t look good on paper but the track warmed up so much that we didn’t really know what to expect coming into quali. Q1 was a little bit slow but then I picked it up and Q3 was solid enough so I was happy,” said Ricciardo.
Ferrari drivers kimi Raikkonen and Sebastion Vettel took line up fourth and fifth, with Raikkonen beating his teammate by 0.057s. Max Verstappen was forced him to abort his lap after making a mistake on Turn 11 and will start sixth on the grid.
Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez of Force India will start seventh and eighth ahead of Fernando Alonso for McLaren-Honda in ninth and Felipe Massa for Williams in tenth for his final race ahead of his retirement from F1.
Valtteri Bottas just missed the top ten by 0.040s after losing time to his teammate Massa in the second sector. Bottas will start ahead of Jenson Button who finished 12th, who is also expecting to be retire from the sport.
Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez beat teammate Romain Grosjean to 13th in their last qualifying session as Gutierrez prepares his departure from the team. Renault’s Jolyon Palmer and Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein will start 15th and 16th while Toro Rosso's Daniil Kvyat, who missed Q2 by 0.117s to Wehrlein, starts in 17th.
Kevin Magnussen qualified 18th and was 0.367s off his teammate. Esteban Ocon who starts his next season with Force India finished 20th and was 0.400s off his teammate Wehrlein while Carlos Sainz qualified 21st and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson will start 22nd.
12 points stand between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg with Rosberg possibly facing a considerable threat from a charging Red Bull team.