Lewis Hamilton claimed his fourth pole position of the season Saturday in qualifying for the inaugural Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix.

The McLaren-Mercedes driver dominated the session on the new 5.554-kilometre Yas Marina Circuit, registering a time of 1 minute 40.948 seconds to secure the 17th pole of his career.

'It's never easy but it was definitely as fun as it looked,' said Hamilton, who continued his strong finish to the season with a fourth top spot in the last seven races.

'The car was the best it's been all year.'

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel will start alongside Hamilton on the front row after clocking a lap 0.667 seconds slower than the 2008 champion. Vettel's teammate Mark Webber starts from third, followed by Rubens Barrichello and newly-crowned world champion Jenson Button.

'We are a little bit surprised by the gap,' admitted the German Vettel. 'I think we do have a good race pace, the car is getting better through the distance.'

Although Button claimed the drivers' title with a fifth-place finish at the Brazil GP two weeks ago and his Brawn GP team have secured the constructors' crown, the race for second place is still very much alive at the season-ender in Abu Dhabi.

Vettel currently holds the advantage with 74 points, just two ahead of Button's teammate Barrichello.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen managed only 11th while Hamilton's teammate Heikki Kovalainen had to be satisfied with 13th after suffering engine transmission problems.

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso had a disappointing final qualifying session for Renault ahead of his move to Ferrari for next season and will start down in 16th place after being eliminated in the first round.

All eyes will now turn to Sunday's race, which for the first time in F1 history will start in daylight and be completed as the sun sets.

Temperatures are expected to hit 35 degrees Celsius at the Yas Marina track, where construction only began in February 2007.

The spectacular circuit, which has a tunnel as part of its pit- lane exit and a track that passes under the Yas Hotel, has impressed all the drivers this weekend, not least Hamilton.

'The place is just stunning. It's mind-blowing what they have been able to create here,' he said.

"In Q3 I had massive vibrations. Hopefully we can solve it by the race," added Button.

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.873 1:39.695 1:40.948 20
2 15 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:40.666 1:39.984 1:41.615 21
3 14 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:40.667 1:40.272 1:41.726 21
4 23 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:40.574 1:40.421 1:41.786 24
5 22 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:40.378 1:40.148 1:41.892 25
6 9 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:40.517 1:40.373 1:41.897 24
7 5 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1:40.520 1:40.545 1:41.992 25
8 6 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:40.558 1:40.635 1:42.343 24
9 16 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:40.842 1:40.661 1:42.583 25
10 12 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:40.908 1:40.430 1:42.713 27
11 4 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:41.100 1:40.726 20
12 10 Kamui Kobayashi Toyota 1:41.035 1:40.777 17
13 2 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:40.808 1:40.983 16
14 17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:41.096 1:41.148 18
15 11 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:41.503 1:41.689 19
16 7 Fernando Alonso Renault 1:41.667 12
17 21 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:41.701 10
18 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:41.863 10
19 8 Romain Grosjean Renault 1:41.950 12
20 3 Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 1:42.184 12

Source:GMM

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