Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton will start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with the most crucial pole position of the season, after beating teammate and rival Nico Rosberg to the front of the grid by just three-tenths of a second.
In Q1, Hamilton stayed more than a second ahead of Rosberg after the German suffered from a troublesome lap, with oversteer coming out of Turn 9.
Going into Q2, Rosberg looked set to beat the Brit’s time, as he set fastest times in the first two sectors, however after running slightly wide in the final sector, remained behind his teammate once more.
Hamilton managed to maintain his advantage over Rosberg in Q3, after setting an initial benchmark time that was three-tenths faster than the German, only for Rosberg to set a faster time. Hamilton then went on to set an even faster time of 1:38.755, which Rosberg was unable to beat, as he will start tomorrow’s race in second.
On the second row, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo will start third, and after him and his teammate Max Verstappen went into Q3 on super-soft tyres, rather than ultra-softs, the two could potentially play a big part in the title contender.
“I’m definitely pleased I got the third place I was after,” spoke the Australian.
Verstappen however, qualified a disappointing sixth, following “difficulties with braking”, as the Dutchman locked up. However, his starting super-soft tyres could perhaps help him in moving up through the pack tomorrow.
Alongside Ricciardo, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen will begin tomorrow’s race from fourth position on the grid, ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.
“Today we went a lot faster than we had been in practice, we did our best and it was almost enough for third place, but my last lap was not perfect in some places,” reviewed Raikkonen.
“It’s hard to say if we’ll be able to fight with the Mercedes tomorrow: usually in race conditions we are a bit closer, but I’m sure they will also be very strong.
“Tomorrow we can only do our best, we’ll try to make a good start and then we’ll see.”
Force India’s Sergio Perez qualified seventh, and will start the race alongside his teammate Nico Hulkenberg for what will be the German’s final race with the team, before his move to Renault for next season, ahead of McLaren’s Fernando Alonso in ninth.
Williams’ Felipe Massa managed to gain the final top-ten spot on the grid in his final Grand Prix before his retirement.
“It definitely was not a very easy qualifying today, but I was happy with the result,” spoke the Brazilian.
“To be honest, I wasn’t happy with the tyres but I just tried my hardest to set a good lap. I had a very good time in Q2, which was important.
“We’re not far from where we expected to be and we will see what we can do compared to the other cars.”
Going into the season’s final race tomorrow, Rosberg has a point advantage of 12 points, whereas Hamilton has the advantage of pole position. In what could be the most exciting race of the season, it is all to play for for the two Mercedes drivers.