Hamilton strikes with Abu Dhabi pole

Lewis Hamilton scored a vital pole position at Yas Marina in his quest to win his fourth world championship over his Mercedes rival Nico Rosberg.

The reigning world champion held provisional pole after the initial runs in Q3, just over three tenths quicker than Rosberg, and eventually completed two laps good enough for pole by breaking into the one minute, 38 seconds on his final run.

Championship leader Rosberg also improved on his second Q3 run, but ended up more than three tenths behind Hamilton.

If Hamilton wins Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Rosberg only needs to finish third to clinch his first Formula 1 world title.

Daniel Ricciardo qualified his Red Bull third fastest, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari by just 0.015 seconds on his final Q3 run.

Ricciardo and his Red Bull Racing team-mate Max Verstappen, who qualified sixth fastest, will both start the race on the super-soft tyre, after progressing through Q2 without using the ultra-soft favoured by Mercedes and Ferrari.

Sebastian Vettel was fifth quickest for Ferrari, less than a tenth slower than Raikkonen.

Vettel suggested he lost time in Turns 16, 17 and 18, and that he went the wrong way on set-up for qualifying.

The Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez locked out row four, just 0.018 seconds apart, while Fernando Alonso qualified his McLaren a tenth faster than Felipe Massa’s Williams, which rounded out the top ten.

Massa’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas just missed out on making Q3, finding time on his final Q2 lap but narrowly losing out to Alonso, who was quicker than Bottas by just 0.040 seconds.

Jenson Button qualified P12 for McLaren, dropping two tenths to Alonso in the middle sector and suggesting his car picked up understeer.

Esteban Gutierrez beat Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean to P13  by just under a tenth of a second, while Jolyon Palmer was P15 in the best of the Renaults, 0.175 seconds clear of Pascal Wehrlein, who put his Manor into Q2 for the fifth time this season.

Both Toro Rosso drivers fell in Q1, after losing most of Friday’s second practice to FIA safety checks to its cars, following punctures suffered on Daniil Kvyat’s car.

Kvyat was only P17, a tenth slower than Wehrlein, while Kvyat’s team-mate Carlos Sainz qualified on the last row of the grid.

Renault apologised to Kevin Magnussen after he failed to go quicker on his final Q1 run and wound up P18, ahead of Sauber’s Felipe Nasr, who complained of an ERS problem exiting Turn 14.

Esteban Ocon was P20 for Manor, after a slow first sector, while Marcus Ericsson qualified last, the Sauber driver apologising to the team for locking up under braking for Turn 17 and ruining his final flying lap in Q1.

So an important qualifying session for the Mercedes drivers. Hamilton has been quickest in every session so far but the one that counts will decide the championship. Rosberg just need to bring the car home in the race to win the title.

Qualifying positions, Yas Marina:
1    Lewis Hamilton    Mercedes    1m38.755s
2    Nico Rosberg    Mercedes    1m39.058s
3    Daniel Ricciardo    Red Bull-Renault    1m39.589s
4    Kimi Raikkonen    Ferrari    1m39.604s
5    Sebastian Vettel    Ferrari    1m39.661s
6    Max Verstappen    Red Bull-Renault    1m39.818s
7    Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes    1m40.501s
8    Sergio Perez    Force India-Mercedes    1m40.519s
9    Fernando Alonso    McLaren-Honda    1m41.106s
10    Felipe Massa    Williams-Mercedes    1m41.213s
11    Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes    1m41.084s
12    Jenson Button    McLaren-Honda    1m41.272s
13    Esteban Gutierrez    Haas-Ferrari    1m41.480s
14    Romain Grosjean    Haas-Ferrari    1m41.564s
15    Jolyon Palmer    Renault    1m41.820s
16    Pascal Wehrlein    Manor-Mercedes    1m41.995s
17    Daniil Kvyat    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m42.003s
18    Kevin Magnussen    Renault    1m42.142s
19    Felipe Nasr    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.247s
20    Esteban Ocon    Manor-Mercedes    1m42.286s
21    Carlos Sainz    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1m42.393s
22    Marcus Ericsson    Sauber-Ferrari    1m42.637s

5 thoughts to “Hamilton strikes with Abu Dhabi pole”

  1. Abu Dhabi qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton kept his championship hopes firmly alive by soundly beating points-leading Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg to pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session for the 2016 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Three-tenths of a second separated the title rivals, who will have Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen immediately behind them on the grid.

    Sebastian Vettel finished fifth for Ferrari, while a mistake on his final run restricted Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to sixth. Notably, Verstappen and team mate Ricciardo are the only top-ten runners who will start Sunday’s race on the more durable supersoft tyre.

    The Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez took seventh and eighth, with McLaren’s Fernando Alonso and Williams’ Felipe Massa completing the top ten.

    Q1 saw Hamilton obliterate everyone with a superb lap of 1m 39.487s, to which Rosberg’s reply was a modest 1m 40.511s which was eventually only good enough for fifth as Raikkonen and Vettel maintained Ferrari’s FP3 performance with 1m 40.338s and 1m 40.341s. As Verstappen took fourth with 1m 40.424s, Ricciardo struggled to eighth on 1m 41.002s.

    Further back, Manor’s Pascal Wehrlein jumped into Q2 with 1m 41.886s, leaving Daniil Kvyat as the first faller for Toro Rosso on 1m 42.003, ahead of Renault’s Kevin Magnussen on 1m 42.142s, Sauber’s Felipe Nasr on 1m 42.247s, Esteban Ocon in the second Manor on 1m 42.286s, Carlos Sainz in the second Toro Rosso on 1m 42.393s and Marcus Ericsson in the second Sauber on 1m 42.637s.

    Hamilton dominated Q2 with 1m 39.382s, but Rosberg was second with a much more convincing 1m 39.490s from Raikkonen on 1m 39.629s and Verstappen, on 1m 39.903s. Red Bull alone ran the supersofts instead of the ultrasofts, meaning they will start on the longer-lasting – but slower – rubber.

    As Alonso took 10th, Williams’ Valtteri Bottas led those who failed to get through, with 1m 41.084s, just 0.40s off the Spaniard’s time. McLaren’s Jenson Button improved to 1m 41.272s but it was not enough to get him into Q3 for the last time, as Esteban Gutierrez again out-qualified Haas team mate Romain Grosjean, 1m 41.490s to 1m 41.564s. Jolyon Palmer was 15th on 1m 41.820s for Renault, as Wehrlein completed the group with 1m 41.995s.

    Hamilton again nailed it on the first runs in Q3 with a lap of 1m 39.013s against Rosberg’s 1m 39.359s, and he maintained that on the second runs with a stunning 1m 38.755s which left Rosberg gasping just a little, even though he too improved, to 1m 39.058s.

    Behind them, Ricciardo displaced Raikkonen for third on their second runs; the Australian improved to 1m 39.589s and the Finn also improved, to 1m 39.604s, but not enough to stay ahead.

    Verstappen was on for improvement too, but ran off the road in Turn 11. That let Vettel up to fifth with 1m 39.661s, as the Dutchman had to rely on his first run time of 1m 39.818s.

    Behind them, Hulkenberg took seventh for Force India with 1m 40.501s from team mate Perez on 1m 40.519s. Alonso underlined McLaren’s improvements with ninth on 1m 41.106s, and Massa will start his final Grand Prix 10th, after lapping his Williams in 1m 41.213s.

    Thus the provisional grid lines up: Hamilton, Rosberg; Ricciardo, Raikkonen; Vettel, Verstappen; Hulkenberg, Perez; Alonso, Massa; Bottas, Button; Gutierrez, Grosjean; Palmer, Wehrlein; Kvyat, Magnussen; Nasr, Ocon; Sainz, Ericsson.

    Rosberg may have a 12-point advantage heading into Sunday’s title-deciding race, but for now the momentum is with Hamilton – it was his first pole at Yas Marina against the German since they became team mates, his 12th of the season and his 61st overall.

  2. Nico Rosberg accepts “it wasn’t possible” to match the time set by Formula 1 title rival Lewis Hamilton in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Hamilton took pole position by 0.303s ahead of Rosberg, with the championship leader comfortably ahead of the rest of the field for a race where he only needs to finish third to seal the title even if Hamilton wins.

    “I’ve come here to try and be on pole and try and win the race,” said Rosberg.

    “I’m not ecstatic today, Lewis just did a good job and was a couple of tenths quicker.

    “It wasn’t possible for me to do that time today, even though I tried everything.

    “But there are opportunities tomorrow and I’ll go for it.”

    Rosberg said he was happy with how his car felt in qualifying, and he declined to discuss his thoughts about how to approach the race given that he doesn’t need to beat Hamilton to take the crown.

    “It was feeling good out there, I had a great balance so I was feeling quite pleased.

    “As qualifying went on it felt better and better – I got a good lap in the end but it wasn’t good enough.

    “Let’s do the race and see how it goes, then we can talk about it as much as you want.

    “It’s been a great year, my best so far. I’m proud of the season.

    “I just keep it simple and don’t think about what ifs, all those kinds of things.”

    Hamilton added that up to now his focus for the weekend had purely been on getting pole position.

    “This evening or tomorrow, I’ll sit with my engineers and strategists to fully understand the scenarios and what I’ve got to do,” he said.

    “I want to get away and win this race. I feel great in the car.

    “I have always said, if I have performed at my best, I can walk away proud.

    “I’m sitting on pole so I feel energetic, confident. I have everything to gain tomorrow.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  3. Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo wants to make Formula 1 title fight ‘more exciting’. It helps by qualifying in third position. Autosport.com has the details.

    Daniel Ricciardo wants to make the Formula 1 title showdown between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in Abu Dhabi “even more exciting” on Sunday.

    The Australian and his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen will start the race on the harder super-soft tyre, while the other leading cars will be on ultra-softs based on the compounds each driver chose to set their fastest times with in Q2.

    While Ricciardo then took third behind the Mercedes drivers in Q3, Verstappen made a mistake on both of his laps and will line-up sixth.

    Explaining the reason for the different strategy, Ricciardo said: “We have got to try something.

    “It seems to be a bit of a trend this year, if we’re in a position to qualify on another tyre [in Q2] we try and see if it gives us an opportunity.

    “Hopefully it puts us in the fight. There is a title on the line for these guys here, hopefully it’s fun throughout the pack and we can do something to make it even more exciting than it already is.

    “As predicted Mercedes pulled a bit more than us in qualifying but we’ll see if the race comes back for us.

    “That is why we wanted to try something different with the super-softs – it might give us a bit more range at the start [before first pitstops] and put us more in the race towards the end.

    “Yesterday we were strong on long runs, it looks good, so it’s going to be fun tomorrow.”

    While Ricciardo is optimistic about his chances from the second row, Verstappen believes Mercedes will be too fast for anyone to interfere with Hamilton and Rosberg at the front.

    “I don’t think so, they are too quick,” he said when asked about fighting Mercedes.

    “We both felt pretty comfortable on the super-soft, so hopefully in the first stint I can go a bit longer together with Daniel and we’ll see what happens.”

    Verstappen blamed his disappointing qualifying performance on struggling with Turn 11, at the end of the second backstraight.

    “Q1 and Q2 was very good, no issues, then in Q3, I locked the fronts into Turn 11 on my first run,” he said.

    “In my second run I was again two tenths up, and if I just do a decent Turn 11, another two tenths.

    “But then I had a massive lock-up on the outside wheel, so I went even wider.

    “I could have been easily P3, so that was a shame.”

  4. Sebastian Vettel believes he paid the price for being too aggressive in terms of his approach to the final Formula 1 qualifying session of the year in Abu Dhabi.

    With qualifying and the race at Yas Marina starting at sunset, the first and third practice sessions of the weekend are largely redundant as they take place in warmer daytime conditions.

    Vettel, who qualified fifth on the grid, believes he and Ferrari “went too far” in trying to get things right when it counted.

    “Qualifying was a bit hard, I was looking to find the rhythm but we were probably a bit too aggressive, trying to [work out] the conditions for tonight but we got caught out.

    “It was difficult and it was coming for us towards the end.

    “It’s normal that there’s quite a big shift between afternoon and evening.

    “Everybody’s trying to do the same thing but we went too far which made it difficult to get to the limit.

    “The car was good, no major problems, but it was just about putting things together.”

    Max Verstappen went off the track ahead of Vettel on his final lap, but the German played down the impact of the Red Bull driver’s mistake.

    “He went off – I saw some smoke and I passed him,” he said.

    “I don’t think he was in the way but I lost some rhythm and the last sector wasn’t tidy.

    “Not an ideal session, otherwise we would have been P3.”

    Vettel’s team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who lines up fourth, said he hasn’t focused too much on set-up changes or getting distracted by the unrepresentative practice sessions.

    “We know from every year here there’s always a bit of a difference with the weather,” said Raikkonen.

    “It’s hot during the daytime so it’s a bit of a waste of time, those sessions.

    “We know what will happen for the evening, to make the right choices and make it work when it actually matters.

    “I hardly changed my car – I changed a little bit for FP3 just to get a better feeling.

    “It was not ideal at that time of day but you know the pace is going to improve, so we pretty much kept the car the same.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  5. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be a tense championship decider and Mercedes have no plans between the drivers fighting for the title. Autosport.com has the full story.

    Mercedes has no plans to interfere with the way Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg race each other to decide the 2016 Formula 1 world championship on Sunday.

    Even if Hamilton wins the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from pole position, Rosberg will be world champion provided he finishes on the podium.

    Red Bull boss Christian Horner suggested it would be “smart” of Hamilton to back Rosberg towards the rest of pack but Hamilton rejected the suggestion.

    When asked if Mercedes was prepared for such a possibility, Wolff said: “We can’t really interfere in the final race, we have let them race until now.

    “They both know what we deem as being sportsmanlike.

    “But then there is a lot at stake tomorrow, it is a drivers’ world championship to be won or lost.

    “We have thought on all possibilities and as long as we are not overstepping the mark in what we see to be unsportsmanlike driving, we are fine.

    “We need to let them go.

    “We don’t want change the rules for tomorrow because it would be wrong for the title decider and turn everything upside down that we have developed in the last couple of years.

    “The drivers are great sportsmen and they know what it would mean to overstep the line.

    “It would cause a lot of controversy and therefore I trust this is going to go well tomorrow for the benefit of the team, the team spirit, and the effort it has been given, and the fans.”

    Wolff insists Mercedes will continue to give the leading car strategic priority because race victory remains the team’s main focus.

    “No matter what happens tomorrow the car which is leading the race or in a better position is going to have the strategy call and the priority because winning the race is our number one objective,” he said.

    “The second driver can either choose the same strategy or be on any other variances.

    “The procedure for tomorrow doesn’t change because it is a title decider.”

    Wolff added Red Bull choosing to start on the super-soft, whereas the rest of the top 10 will be on the ultra-soft, and Ferrari’s pace is something to think about.

    “I guess Red Bull hasn’t got the pace here to win on the same strategy, that was the thinking, and the offset strategy gives them potential,” he said.

    “It is why it is a bit of a headache in the same way that Ferrari’s pace is a headache.

    “Our main objective is being fought out on track, when the lights go green it is all that matters.”

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