Mercedes AMG Petronas’ Lewis Hamilton showed a dominant performance during the final qualifying session of the 2016 season as he took pole position at the Yas Marina circuit. Title rival and teammate Nico Rosberg was just over three tenths of a second behind in second. After the first runs it was Hamilton taking the advantage as he set a stunning lap time of 1:39.013 with teammate Rosberg just 0.346 seconds behind. Hamilton improved more to set a 1:38.755, despite being quicker through the first sector of the circuit Rosberg was unable to get any closer than 0.303 seconds behind. This was the fourteenth front row lockout by Mercedes during the 2016 season. Pole position will give the Brit the advantage on race day, even if Hamilton wins Rosberg must finish off of the podium for Hamilton to take the championship.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo finished qualifying in third during the final few minutes of the session. After teammate Max Verstappen made a mistake at turn eleven it denied the Dutchman any opportunity to improve, he fell to sixth on the grid for the race. Sitting in between the two Red Bull drivers were the two Scuderia Ferrari’s in the hands of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel. Raikkonen finished in fourth ahead of Vettel in fifth, just 0.057 separated the two.

Nico Hulkenberg secured himself seventh on the grid during his final outing with the Sahara Force India team before he moves to Renault Sport next season and beyond. The German driver beat teammate Sergio Perez by just 0.018 seconds to take seventh with the latter in eighth.

McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso made it through to the last part of qualifying, ending up ninth on the grid. the Spanish driver was 2.351 seconds behind the pole time set by Hamilton. Williams Martini Racing’s Felipe Massa managed to get through to the top ten shoot-out for his 250th and final Grand Prix before he retires after the weekend, he qualified in tenth place.

Fellow Williams’ driver Valtteri Bottas was unable to match Massa’s pace as he missed out on the top ten shoot-out by 0.040 seconds.  Jenson Button will take part in his final race weekend before taking a sabbatical after this weekend, he was only able to qualify in twelfth; 0.228 seconds down from teammate Alonso. During his final outing for the Haas team, Esteban Gutierrez outqualified his teammate Romain Grosjean. The two were separated by 0.084 seconds, although Grosjean had a tough opening stage to the session as he had a half spin in Q1 at turn eighteen. They qualified in thirteenth and fourteenth.

Renault Sport’s Jolyon Palmer got through to the second part of qualifying, he finished the session in fifteenth. Manor Racing’s Pascal Wehrlein qualified in sixteenth after getting through to the second part of qualifying for the fifth time.

Scuderia Toro Rosso seemed to still be living in a nightmare as both drivers were unable to get through to the second part of qualifying. Daniil Kvyat qualified in seventeenth with Carlos Sainz Jr down in twenty-first. The team have definitely been suffering a lot during the weekend and had to do a lot of work to try and rectify issues to ensure the cars were safe for the drivers to run in.

Renault Sport’s Kevin Magnussen locked up on the entrance to turn seventeen on his last lap, which saw him only manage to qualify in eighteenth for his final race with the team before switching to Haas for next season. Sauber’s Felipe Nasr qualified in nineteenth ahead of Manor Racing’s Esteban Ocon in twentieth. Sainz lines up in twenty-first with Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson lines up at the back of the grid in twenty-second.


©Fay Tilley 27th November 2016.