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Nico Rosberg takes pole after Hamilton's blunder

Abu Dhabi: Nico Rosberg gave himself the best chance of winning the drivers' championship by beating Mercedes teammate and championship-rival Lewis Hamilton to pole position in qualifying for today's title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg waves to fans
Nico Rosberg waves to fans 

Rosberg lapped the Yas Marina Circuit in one minute 40.480 seconds to take his 11th pole of the season, beating Hamilton by a handy three-tenths of a second.

"It was a great day and I'm thankful to the engineers because they did a good job to sort out the car," Rosberg said. "It all worked out well, (I) put a good lap together in the end."

Hamilton had led the opening two sessions of qualifying but made an error just when it mattered in the final shootout for pole position.

"I generally didn't really have the best laps but it was still a really good qualifying session, I enjoyed it," the Briton said.

Hamilton leads Rosberg by 17 points heading into today's race as a bitter and closely-fought season-long battle between the two former friends reaches its culmination.

With a maximum of 50 points on offer under the controversial double points rule the title race remains wide open but all Hamilton needs to clinch his second world title is to finish second even if Rosberg wins.

17
Number of points that Hamilton leads Rosberg by ahead of today's race

Mercedes to temper its celebrations today

Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo have been thrown out of qualifying for today's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and will start the race from the back of the grid after the front wing flaps on both Red Bulls were found to be flexing under aerodynamic load.

"The stewards, having received a report from the Technical Delegate, heard from team representatives, have considered the following matter, determine a breach of the regulations has been committed…," a statement signed by the stewards said.

Ricciardo and Vettel had qualified fifth and sixth behind the two Mercedes and Williams cars but their times will now be deleted. "We are disappointed that we have been singled out for a front wing deflection test when it is clear that other teams are interpreting the rules in a similar fashion," Red Bull said in a statement.

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