Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton's 'sole focus is pole position'

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton won in Abu Dhabi in 2011 and 2014, while Rosberg triumphed there in 2015
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the BBC
Dates: 25-27 November Venue: Yas Marina Circuit
Coverage: Live radio commentary of practice, qualifying and the race on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and BBC Radio 5 live (final practice on BBC Sport website and app only), plus live text commentary on BBC Sport website and app

Lewis Hamilton says he is desperate to take pole position for Sunday's title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The defending champion, quickest ahead of championship leader and team-mate Nico Rosberg in both Friday practice sessions, said: "My sole focus until Sunday is getting that pole."

He added: "Right now, I don't have to think about the race. Positioning is what I want this weekend."

To take the title, he needs to win and hope Rosberg is lower than third.

Briton Hamilton trails Rosberg by 12 points heading into the race and, given Mercedes' dominance this season, realistically has to hope his German rival hits trouble of one kind or another so other teams manage to get their cars between them.

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Hamilton was 0.374 seconds faster than Rosberg in the first practice session and 0.079secs quicker in the second session.

He said starting first was so crucial because overtaking was difficult around Yas Marina.

"Pole position helps a lot here," Hamilton said. "You need a 1.1-1.2secs advantage over the car in front to have a chance to overtake him. You don't have that between myself and Nico or the Red Bulls, so position is everything, so I need that pole. "

Hamilton said he had been pleased with the session and the balance of the car, both in qualifying and race trim.

"It's a good feeling," he said. "I have come here to be quickest. I know I am quicker so it is about going and actually doing it.

"For sure it feels good, but it doesn't really matter if he's second, so he's probably more relaxed, whereas I am fighting and chasing. It is all to play for on Saturday."

Hamilton has been beaten to pole position by Rosberg at the past two races in Abu Dhabi, but he felt last year's performance was affected by the fact he had already won the title.

"I wasn't pushing so much last year, hence why the other dude won the last few races," Hamilton said. "But it was not important at the time. But I will be pushing this weekend to the max. A lot of fans have come to support and hoping I get the win so I will try to get the best."

Rosberg said: "He was a bit faster but I didn't nail my lap properly so I have a bit in reserve. But it is always going be close and it will be a big battle for pole.

"For sure I am going for pole position because it is going to help to get the race win on Sunday.

"I'm generally feeling OK. It was a good start to the weekend. The car is feeling OK, it is well balanced. There was a lot of [tyre] graining - when the surface starts to break up - on the long run which is a bit of an issue we need to get a hang of.

"Lewis is driving great and I am going to dig deep and try to find those extra hundredths in the computer or whatever, try to nail the set-up and then let's see how it goes."

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