The Briton beat his team-mate Nico Rosberg to pole for the fourth consecutive race, but Rosberg sits alongside Hamilton on the front row.
Hamilton must win Sunday’s race and hope Rosberg fails to make the podium to overhaul his rival and claim a fourth world drivers’ championship.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Rosberg: Abu Dhabi was my toughest race
28/11/2016 AT 10:29
His best lap of 1:38.755 was just over three tenths quicker than Rosberg's 1:39.058, with the Mercedes pair over half a second ahead of the rest of the pack.
Felipe Massa, watched by his family in the garage, reached Q3 to qualify 10th for his final race; McLaren's Jenson Button will start 12th on his F1 farewell.

Abu Dhabi GP qualifying: full result

  • 1-Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 2-Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
  • 3-Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
  • 4-Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
  • 5-Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
  • 6-Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
  • 7-Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
  • 8-Sergio Perez (Force India)
  • 9-Fernando Alonso (McLaren)
  • 10-Felipe Massa (Williams)
Hamilton held provisional pole after the initial runs in Q3, just over three tenths quicker than Rosberg, and eventually completed two laps good enough for pole by breaking into the 1m38s on his final run.
Championship leader Rosberg also improved on his second Q3 run, but ended up more than three tenths behind Hamilton.
If Hamilton wins Sunday's race, Rosberg only needs to finish third to clinch his first F1 world title.
Daniel Ricciardo qualified his Red Bull third fastest, nicking ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari by just 0.015 seconds on his final Q3 run.
Ricciardo and his Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen, who qualified sixth fastest, will both start the race on the super-soft tyre, after progressing through Q2 without the ultra-soft favoured by Mercedes and Ferrari.
Sebastian Vettel was fifth fastest in the second Ferrari, less than a tenth slower than Raikkonen.
Vettel suggested he lost time in Turns 16, 17 and 18, and that he went the wrong way on set-up for qualifying.
The Force Indias of Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez locked out row four, just 0.018s apart, while Fernando Alonso qualified his McLaren a tenth faster than Felipe Massa's Williams, which rounded out the top 10.
Massa's team-mate Valtteri Bottas just missed out on making Q3 in the second Williams, finding time on his final Q2 lap but narrowly losing out to Alonso, who was quicker than Bottas by just 0.040s.
Jenson Button qualified 12th in the sister McLaren, dropping two tenths to Alonso in the middle sector and suggesting his car picked up understeer in the cool conditions.
Esteban Gutierrez beat Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean to 13th on the grid by just under a tenth of a second, while Jolyon Palmer was 15th in the best of the Renaults, 0.175s clear of Pascal Wehrlein, who put his Manor into Q2 for the fifth time this season.
Both Toro Rosso drivers fell in Q1, after losing most of Friday's second practice to FIA safety checks to its cars, following punctures suffered on Daniil Kvyat's car.
Kvyat was only 17th quickest, a tenth slower than Wehrlein, while Kvyat's team-mate Carlos Sainz Jr qualified on the last row of the grid.
Renault apologised to Kevin Magnussen after he failed to go quicker on his final Q1 run and wound up 18th, ahead of Sauber's Felipe Nasr, who complained of an ERS problem exiting Turn 14.
Esteban Ocon was 20th in the second Manor, after a slow first sector, while the second Sauber of Marcus Ericsson qualified the last, the Swede apologising to the team for locking up under braking for Turn 17 and ruining his final flying lap in Q1.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Abu Dhabi was my toughest race - Rosberg
28/11/2016 AT 10:04
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Vettel tops Abu Dhabi GP final practice
26/11/2016 AT 11:44