Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Hamilton on pole for F1 title showdown

Lewis Hamilton took pole position for the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday with Mercedes team-mate and championship favourite Nico Rosberg joining him on the front row.

Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo at the press conference following the qualifying session.   -  AP

Lewis Hamilton now has 61 career pole positions.   -  Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton claimed a potentially valuable pole position for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but Nico Rosberg remains favourite to secure the world title after taking second behind his Mercedes team-mate.

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Rosberg leads the drivers' standings by 12 points from Hamilton and knows a top-three finish on Sunday will secure a maiden crown regardless of the reigning champion's result.

Although Hamilton proved the class of the field in qualifying on Saturday, comfortably topping the standings with a time of one minute and 38.755 seconds, his rival crucially remained ahead of the Red Bulls and Ferraris as he completed a 15th Mercedes front-row lock-out in 2016.

Rosberg was three-tenths of a second adrift of Hamilton's blistering pace, but the German will take heart from the fact he was not challenged for second in Q3.

Daniel Ricciardo (+0.834secs) edged out Kimi Raikkonen (+0.849s) for third, with Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen close behind.

Intriguingly, the two Red Bull drivers were sent out on super-soft tyres for Q2 — meaning they will theoretically be capable of longer first stints in Sunday's race.

Hamilton — the winner of the last three races — could hardly have done more to lay down a marker on Saturday, recording the quickest time in all three sessions.

Felipe Massa qualified in 10th for his final Grand Prix, while Jenson Button will start 12th in what is also expected to be his last outing.

Provisional classification

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:38.755s
2. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1.39.058s
3. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) 1:39.589s
4. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 1:39.604s
5. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:39.661s
6. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:39.818s
7. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) 1:40.501s
8. Sergio Perez (Force India) 1:40.519s
9. Fernando Alonso (McLaren) 1:41.106s
10. Felipe Massa (Williams) 1:41.213s