Sun, Nov 27, 10:33am by Senior Writer
A brilliant qualifying lap from Lewis Hamilton has strengthened the Englishman’s chances of snatching the world title from teammate Nico Rosberg, with Hamilton to start on pole in the season-deciding event in Abu Dhabi.
Hamilton’s best hopes of a third straight world title see him needing to win the final race of the year at the Yas Marina and hoping that Rosberg finishes worse than third.
He has put himself in best position to achieve the first of those two by recording a blistering pole position time of one minute 38.755, but Rosberg will sit alongside of him on the grid, despite being 0.3 of a second off the pace.
While Hamilton has won the past three races of the season, Rosberg has finished second to him each time to minimise the ability for the defending champion to close the gap.
With Red Bull a full half a second slower than Rosberg in qualifying, Hamilton needs Rosberg to suffer substantial misfortune to win the title. As a result, Hamilton is $4.50 to claim his fourth world title.
If Hamilton finishes second, then Rosberg would need to finish seventh or lower for Hamilton to win the title, while a third from Hamilton and a finish of worse than 9th for Rosberg would also do the job.
Rosberg has only finished off the podium once in his past 11 Grands Prix, while he has only finished worth than fifth on two occasions this year.
The German did admit he was simply unable to match Hamilton in qualifying but given Hamilton had everything to gain in qualifying and Rosberg had a lot to lose, it’s not surprising Hamilton’s car was turned up to dominate.
There will be some relief from Rosberg that Max Verstappen, who is renowned for his risky overtaking, is a row further back in sixth, just behind Sebastian Vettel. They are both $23 as well.
There is a sense that Red Bull are looking to play a longer game in terms of tyre strategy and Mercedes will be looking at their stop strategy to ensure they aren’t caught out.
Aussie fans’ hoping for a ninth podium finish from Ricciardo, will have to take the rather short odds of $1.62.
The race starts at midnight Australian time on Sunday night.
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