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Hamilton beats Rosberg to pole

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 27-11-2016 skysports.com
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Lewis Hamilton has taken pole position for the title-deciding 'Duel in the Desert' Abu Dhabi GP ahead of championship rival Nico Rosberg. 

In commanding and imperious form, Hamilton has been faster than his Mercedes team-mate in every session so far this weekend and beat Rosberg to pole by three tenths in qualifying's top-ten shootout.

It was Hamilton's 12th pole position of the season and a record-breaking 20th for Mercedes.

"I've got the car in a real sweet spot," enthused Hamilton. "I'm in a perfect position for tomorrow."

When is the Abu Dhabi GP on Sky F1?

The title odds remain stacked against the Englishman, but his performances over the last month have carried the unmistakeable stamp of a champion driver at the peak of his powers.

"That was a real statement of intent," observed Sky F1's Damon Hill. "We are seeing the very best from one of the very best drivers of all time."

Hamilton's wheel-perfect lap of 1:38.755 was the second-fastest pole position time ever recorded at the Yas Marina Circuit and Rosberg conceded: "It just wasn't possible for me to do that time today."

Rosberg is certain to be crowned champion if he finishes on the podium even if Hamilton rounds off the season with a fourth consecutive victory.

But Red Bull have given the German something to think about - and a potential strategic headache on race day - after electing to start the race on the slower but longer-lasting supersoft tyres.

Daniel Ricciardo will line up on the second row in third place, just ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, but Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen was only sixth after an error on his final flying lap. "We just tried something different. If you use the same tyres, you are just following," said the teenager. "It will be an interesting race."

Raikkonen's defeat of Sebastian Vettel means the Finn ends the year 11-10 up on his Ferrari partner in their intra-team battle.

In what is likely to be the final qualifying session of his illustrious F1 career, Jenson Button was 12th for McLaren, two places behind team-mate Fernando Alonso. Felipe Massa, making his last appearance in the sport, rounded off the top ten after beating Williams team-mate for only the fourth time in 2016. 

Abu Dhabi Qualifying timesheet1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:38.7552. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, + 0.3033. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, + 0.8344. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, + 0.8495. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, + 0.9066. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, + 1.0637. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, + 1.7468. Sergio Perez, Force India, + 1.7649. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, + 2.35110. Felipe Massa, Williams, + 2.458.

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