Nico Rosberg beat Lewis Hamilton to Abu Dhabi pole

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer at Yas Marina
Abu Dhabi GP: Nico Rosberg beats Lewis Hamilton to pole position
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Venue: Yas Marina Circuit Dates: 27-29 November
Coverage: Live BBC TV, radio and text coverage of the race. Full details here.

Nico Rosberg out-qualified Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton for the sixth race in a row to seal pole for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

He beat Hamilton by a substantial 0.377 seconds after a qualifying session that see-sawed between the two.

Rosberg was quicker on the first runs in the top 10 shoot-out, Hamilton beat his time by 0.124secs with his final lap, only for Rosberg to top it.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen beat Force India's Sergio Perez to third place.

Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton secured pole position on 11 occasions in 2015, to Nico Rosberg's seven

Raikkonen's team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, will start 16th after Ferrari miscalculated the lap time he needed to progress beyond the first knock-out session.

Rosberg's stunning final lap

Hamilton had been determined on arriving in Abu Dhabi to try to end Rosberg's impressive run of poles, which stems back to the Japanese Grand Prix in late September.

But in the end his team-mate was too strong, producing a stunning final lap to continue his resurgence following the disappointment of Hamilton winning the title in the US Grand Prix last month with three races still to go.


Despite the championship being over, the two have been playing mind games with each other as they seek a psychological edge going into the winter and preparations for the 2016 season.

Hamilton has talked of a change to the Mercedes car altering its feel, and reducing his confidence in it, following the team's struggles at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Rosberg has spoken this weekend about his higher-mileage engine giving him a disadvantage.

The team have played down the significance of both.

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The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a dusk-to-night race held in a circuit complex that cost $1.3bn to build

Rosberg said: "Before it was close in the other direction and now it's close in this direction. I am quicker at the moment and I am pleased about that and happy to be on pole again."

Hamilton said: "I have been struggling with the car a bit all weekend. We had to take something off the car but Nico was quicker today."

Hamilton added that he had been trying to work out why he had been less comfortable with the car's balance since the Singapore race in September.

Watch Rosberg's Abu Dhabi pole lap

He said that for this weekend he had taken off a part of the car's suspension which was worth 0.1-0.15secs a lap in improvement but that it had not made the difference he hoped.

"It was something I didn't feel was working for me," he said. "I took it off and tried to work around it. I thought I'd try something different and it didn't work."

Force India surprise the big teams

Behind the dominant Mercedes, Raikkonen had to dig deep to secure third spot on the grid following the Ferrari team's mistake with Vettel.

An inspired Perez, who was half a second quicker than team-mate Nico Hulkenberg in seventh, was third until the final seconds of the session, only for Raikkonen to beat him by 0.033secs.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said: "I don't know what Perez has had for breakfast - that's a good lap."

Pit lane exit - Massa
Williams' Massa exiting the pit lane tunnel at Yas Marina

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo was fifth, ahead of Williams's Valtteri Bottas.

Drama at McLaren

Jenson Button will start his McLaren-Honda 12th with team-mate Fernando Alonso, surrounded by further speculation about his future, in 17th after suffering a puncture on his final lap.

McLaren chairman Ron Dennis said in a news conference before qualifying that a sabbatical year for Alonso was a "consideration" if the team cannot improve their competitiveness by the start of next season.

Will Fernando Alonso take a sabbatical in 2016?

Asked whether he would be on the grid in 2016, Alonso said: "I will be.

"When Ron says something, you have the perfect opportunity to ask him to clarify his quote. I don't know what his intention is behind it or what he means.

"We all want to improve and see how competitive we are and we are optimistic."

The billion dollar circuit
Yas Marina drips money; the sense of it positively oozes out of the fabric of every part of the fantastical grounds of what is almost certainly Formula 1's most expensive circuit.
From the glittering lights of the Viceroy Hotel, through the artificial marina, to the pristine track itself and its painted infield, the place looks a million dollars. Or, to be more accurate, it looks every penny of the reputed $1.3bn it cost to build the facility.
In a reality-suspended sort of way, it is a very pleasant place to be - a man-made island built at the cost of $40bn as a leisure, shopping and entertainment centre. It's little wonder that it has become one of the most lucrative places on the calendar for teams to do business.
But if money cannot buy happiness (or love), nor it seems can it buy a decent circuit.
Yas Marina might look great under the lights, but it is not much of a race track and, as such, not exactly the sort of place an enthusiast might choose to end the season. Spa or Suzuka it is not.
As ever in F1, though, money talks.

Full qualifying results

Abu Dhabi GP coverage details

nico rosberg
Nico Rosberg makes his way underneath the hotel that stands over the circuit
Red Bull
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat qualified fifth and ninth respectively
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The Yas Marina circuit is surrounded by yachts

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