This is the man who might convert his victory for pole into victory on Sunday, ending a miserable run of under-achievement for the Woking team. But this is also the driver who will wear their colours just three more times before he moves to Mercedes next year.
He will be missed like a persistent ache, however good his replacement Sergio Pérez is – and the Mexican has done little of note in recent races.
Hamilton likes it here. Actually, he says he likes it almost everywhere, but the Abu Dhabi track, even though it is not one of the greatest, has seen the British driver at his best in its short history. He won here last year and was second the year before. he dominated all three qualifying sessions to take his 25th pole and prevent Red Bull from locking out the front row for the first time since Singapore in September.
Mark Webber will join Hamilton on the front row, but the world champion and current leader Sebastian Vettel, the winner here in 2009 and 2010, qualified third and then had to wait, agonisingly, to see if he would be pushed further back after his car came to a halt beneath the Yas hotel following instructions from the engine makers Renault.
Hamilton completely outdrove his team-mate Jenson Button, who could finish only sixth. Pastor Maldonado put in a great lap to pinch fourth and Kimi Raikkonen continued his consistent season with fifth. But it was another disappointing qualifying session for Fernando Alonso, Vettel's only realistic rival for the drivers' championship.
He desperately wanted to get to the sharp end of the grid for Sunday but had to content himself with seventh.
"I'm very excited, very excited," Hamilton said. "It's the first time for a long time to be ahead of the Red Bulls, and not to be seeing the tail of them at the start of the race, but I know it's going to be, as always, very, very tough in the race because they've got great race pace.
"But we are strong enough to fight them. The team's done a fantastic job all weekend. The car's felt beautiful all weekend. I don't know why the car works so well here. We've not really made any improvements since the last race, so I guess it just suits the track. The guys are still massively focused so I hope that tomorrow's a good day for us."
Vettel, like the entire Red Bull team, looked in sombre mood. The driver had brake problems in the morning practice session and, like everyone else, did not know why he was asked to stop his car at the end of qualifying.
"I don't why I was asked to stop," he shrugged. "I think probably some problem. It shouldn't be something major. Obviously, this morning wasn't ideal, not being able to run. So we didn't get probably the answers that we were hoping for. Nevertheless, this afternoon we were settling in quite well and the pace was there, but I think McLaren, in particular Lewis, are pretty quick. So they were out of reach today."
Button, whose whole career might be outlined with a succession of brilliant peaks and unexplained troughs, looked mystified by his lack of performance.
"All weekend I've been happy and the pace has been good. But in qualifying it wasn't there and I don't know why. If I knew, I would've sorted it out. Obviously, the car is very quick. Lewis is on pole by quite a bit. I'm five or six tenths off. It's a lot of lap time," he said.
Alonso was also left to reflect on a far from perfect day. The Spaniard trails Vettel by 13 points in the drivers' championship and said of his qualifying session: "I think we were not competitive today, but myself, personally, I'm happy because we extracted the maximum from the car. Unfortunately there were six people faster than us. Normally the pace improves on Sunday so I hope that will be the case."
Webber qualified second, despite losing a considerable amount of track time on Friday because of a Kers issue, and he acknowledged the McLaren's pace.
"Credit to Lewis, he's obviously got a quick car this weekend and he bumped us off the front row. I think it was a pretty smooth qualifying session for both Seb and I and we did what we could," he said. "Lewis's starts lately haven't been phenomenal so let's see if he has a good one tomorrow. Generally, it's down to how the clutch is and things like that; it's not really down to Lewis. We'll see how they go off the line but I'm looking to go forward, for sure."
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