ABU DHABI: Lewis Hamilton lapped in a league of his own on Saturday to seize pole position for the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix with Mercedes team-mate and championship favourite Nico Rosberg joining him on the front row.
Rosberg has a 12-point lead and can afford to let Hamilton win Sunday’s day-to-night race, knowing a podium finish at Yas Marina will secure him a first championship to match father Keke’s 1982 triumph.
Hamilton, who now has 61 career pole positions and 12 for the season as well as four in a row, has to be in the top three to have a chance of becoming Britain’s first four-times world champion.
He gave himself the best chance under the floodlights, setting a series of fastest sector times that left little doubt about his determination to try to beat the overwhelming odds against him.
His time of one minute 38.755 seconds was a real statement of intent, the champion a mighty 0.303 faster than Rosberg’s best effort.
It was the first time Hamilton had out-qualified his team-mate in Abu Dhabi with Rosberg on pole in the last two years, but it could all come to nothing with the title outcome out of the Briton’s hands.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo qualified in third place for Red Bull, with a lap more than half a second off Rosberg’s pace, and will share the second row with Ferrari’s 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen.
Hamilton reminded Ricciardo of the Australian’s ‘winner, winner chicken dinner’ catchphrase and said he wanted to hear it on Sunday — but with the Red Bull driver one of those behind him and ahead of Rosberg.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel starts in fifth place with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen sixth.
Britain’s Jenson Button, the 2009 world champion, will line up for his farewell race in 12th position for McLaren.
Brazilian Felipe Massa, also leaving after Abu Dhabi, qualified 10th for Williams.
Courtesy : Dawn News