Lewis Hamilton will start Sunday’s title showdown with the advantage on the track, if not in the points, after beating Nico Rosberg to pole position in Abu Dhabi.
Neding all the advantage he could get, even if it is just psychological, Hamilton began qualifying with the weekend’s fastest time, a 1:39.487.
That put him a full second ahead of title rival Rosberg, who was only fifth in Q1.
Hamilton remained on top through to the pole position shoot-out where he was purple in the second and third sectors to cross the line with a 1:39.013.
Rosberg slotted into second place but was 0.346s down on his team-mate.
The title rivals had a second bite at it with Rosberg purple in the first sector, Hamilton quickest in the second, and in the third.
A 1:38.755 for the Brit, a new fastest time for the grand prix weekend, to Rosberg’s 1:39.058 put Hamilton on pole position.
Daniel Ricciardo was third, 0.834s down, with Kimi Raikkonen a further 0.015s off the pace.
Sebastian Vettel was fifth fastest ahead of Max Verstappen.
Both Red Bull drivers ran the supersofts in Q2 meaning that is the tyre that they will use at the start of Sunday’s 55-lap race.
Nico Hulkenberg was seventh ahead of Sergio Perez, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, who qualified inside the top ten in his final grand prix.
Fellow retiree Jenson Button was P12.
1 Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.755
2 Rosberg Mercedes 1:39.058
3 Ricciardo Red Bull 1:39.589
4 Raikkonen Ferrari 1:39.604
5 Vettel Ferrari 1:39.661
6 Verstappen Red Bull 1:39.818
7 Hulkenberg Force India 1:40.501
8 Perez Force India 1:40.519
9 Alonso McLaren 1:41.106
10 Massa Williams 1:41.213
11 Bottas Williams 1:41.084
12 Button McLaren 1:41.272
13 Gutierrez Haas 1:41.480
14 Grosjean Haas 1:41.564
15 Palmer Renault 1:41.820
16 Wehrlein Manor 1:41.995
17 Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:42.003
18 Magnussen Renault 1:42.142
19 Nasr Sauber 1:42.247
20 Ocon Manor 1:42.286
21 Sainz Toro Rosso 1:42.393
22 Ericsson Sauber 1:42.637