Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg. Championship leader Rosberg only needs a podium finish to pip Hamilton to the title.
Briton Hamilton recorded a scorching lap of 1 minute 38.755 seconds at the Yas Marina circuit, with Rosberg of Germany 0.303 seconds slower and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo 0.834 seconds off the pace in third.
The Ferrari’s of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel were fourth and fifth and Ricciardo’s Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen sixth.
Rosberg leads Hamilton by 12 points going into Sunday’s showdown, with both on nine race wins. It was Hamilton’s 12th pole of the season, with Rosberg on eight.
"It's been a great weekend so far," Hamilton said. "I've got the car in a real sweet spot with some great work done by my engineers and faultless mechanics."
Rosberg added: "I came here to take pole and win the race and so I'm not ecstatic about today but Lewis did a great job. I felt good out there and had a good balance and got a good lap in the end but it wasn't enough."
Hamiton has won the last three races and has indicated that, in his heart at least, he will be the true champion whatever happens on Sunday.
He has to be on the podium on Sunday to have a chance of becoming Britain’s first four-time world champion and denying Rosberg a debut world crown.
"I think in my heart I will feel - and maybe I should keep that private to myself - but I feel a certain way in my heart how I have performed," Hamilton told reporters.
All year long
"If he is labeled 'the world champion' it doesn't necessarily mean that's the way it's labeled in my heart," added the 31-year-old, who was quickest in both Friday practice sessions.
The Briton said his feelings did not mean Rosberg would not a worthy winner but world champions were supposed to be “the best in all areas, all year long”.
idr/sb (Reuters, AFP)