Vettel takes important pole in Abu Dhabi

Sebastian Vettel achieved his tenth pole position of the 2010 season for Red Bull Racing at Abu Dhabi, while team-mate Mark Webber will face a difficult job on Sunday with the fifth quickest time in qualifying.

The Red Bull Racing pair elected to do just a single run in Q3, with the McLarens having already set times in the mid one minute, 39 seconds a few moments earlier.

Vettel immediately took provisional pole followed by another impressive lap (one minute, 39.394 seconds) to take the honours. As for Webber, the Australian was struggling to keep pace compared to his team-mate and remained behind the times the McLarens set on their first runs.

When the McLarens and Ferraris came back out for one final run at the end of Q3, Lewis Hamilton claimed his place on the front row alongside Vettel, seconds before Fernando Alonso pipped Jenson Button to head row two.

Webber was left in fifth spot, and will start the season finale alongside Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

As for Hamilton, the McLaren driver survived an earlier scare in Q2 when he had yet to set a decent time in the final minutes of the session.

Having already out-braked himself into Turn 8, which ruined his lap, Lewis was searching for a gap in the traffic to set his proper qualifying run. But in doing so, he appeared to delay Massa into the chicane and Hamilton had to demolish a corner bollard to avoid contact with the Ferrari. Both made it through into the top ten shootout but the race stewards will take a look into the incident.

Jenson Button complained of a “massive vibration” in his McLaren at the beginning of Q1, but after pitting for treatment to his brakes he found his pace and was able to record the second quickest time in Q2.

For the Silver Arrows, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg opted to running the harder compound Bridgestone tyre. This tactic worked for the Mercedes pair with Rosberg in particular up in second position in Q1 and third in Q2. But when it matters in Q3, the Germans decided to do one run that resulted in Schumacher in eighth and Rosberg ninth.

Rubens Barrichello put Williams into seventh position ahead of the Silver Arrows, while Renault’s Vitaly Petrov completed the top ten.

His Renault team-mate, Robert Kubica ended his run of making it through to Q3 in every race this season. The Polish driver was unable to match Petrov’s split times and his scrappy last-gasp effort fell more than a tenth short.

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi will start alongside Kubica in P11, with Adrian Sutil and Nick Heidfeld on row seven. Brazil pole-sitter Nico Hulkenberg was just P15 for Williams, with Vitantonio Liuzzi and Jaime Alguersuari concluding the Q2 runners.

At the back, Jarno Trulli outqualified Lotus team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, with Timo Glock beating Lucas di Grassi and Bruno Senna ahead of Christian Klien.

So the stage is set for an exciting end to this intense 2010 Formula One World Championship. The grid order points to a fascinating battle for the drivers’ title on Sunday with Alonso surrounded by McLarens, and Webber facing a mountain to climb to keep the Ferrari driver from the title. Let battle commence!

Qualifying times from Abu Dhabi:

1.  Vettel       Red Bull-Renault     1m39.394s
2.  Hamilton     McLaren-Mercedes     1m39.425s
3.  Alonso       Ferrari              1m39.792s
4.  Button       McLaren-Mercedes     1m39.823s
5.  Webber       Red Bull-Renault     1m39.925s
6.  Massa        Ferrari              1m40.202s
7.  Barrichello  Williams-Cosworth    1m40.203s
8.  Schumacher   Mercedes             1m40.516s
9.  Rosberg      Mercedes             1m40.589s
10. Petrov       Renault              1m40.901s
11. Kubica       Renault              1m40.780s
12. Kobayashi    Sauber-Ferrari       1m40.783s
13. Sutil        Force India-Ferrari  1m40.914s
14. Heidfeld     Sauber-Ferrari       1m41.113s
15. Hulkenberg   Williams-Cosworth    1m41.418s
16. Liuzzi       Force India-Ferrari  1m41.642s
17. Alguersuari  Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m41.738s
18. Buemi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m41.824s
19. Trulli       Lotus-Cosworth       1m43.516s
20. Kovalainen   Lotus-Cosworth       1m43.712s
21. Glock        Virgin-Cosworth      1m44.095s
22. di Grassi    Virgin-Cosworth      1m44.510s
23. Senna        Hispania-Cosworth    1m45.085s
24. Klien        Hispania-Cosworth    1m45.296s

12 thoughts to “Vettel takes important pole in Abu Dhabi”

  1. Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner has commented that Sunday’s race will be straightforward following qualifying. has the details.

    Christian Horner says Sunday’s race will be straighforward for the Red Bull team, following Sebastian Vettel’s pole position and Mark Webber’s fifth place in qualifying today.

    Webber was the team’s best chance of winning the title at the beginning of the weekend, but with Vettel on pole and championship leader Fernando Alonso third, Webber now faces an uphill task to overcome his rivals.

    But Horner says what is required of his two drivers tomorrow is quite simple.

    “The job for Sebastian is quite clear, he’s got to go, get his head down and get on with it,” Horner said. “Mark has to pass Alonso, he can’t afford to finish behind him. The only way to beat him is going to be to overtake him now.

    “We need good pit work, good starts – we know we’ve got a good race car. The degredation on the soft tyre is going to be a key factor tomorrow. That’s something we looked pretty good on yesterday, it’s going to be a long race.”

    Both Red Bull drivers were on track at the same time when their best laps were set, and Horner says it was just a matter of Vettel hooking up a lap while Webber did not.

    “It looked like the second lap was probably the optimum lap, Sebastian got the job done on that lap and unfortunately Mark has lost out to Jenson by less than a tenth,” Horner said.

    “It’s a shame for Mark he’s not further up. It was a choice on that last run whether you go with one lap. The tyres didn’t feel like they were going to be ready. Neither driver wanted to do a one-lap run, they wanted to do a sequence of laps. Unfortunately for Mark it just hasn’t come together for him.”

  2. Despite being fifth on the grid, Mark Webber has said that he is still has a chance in the title fight against Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. provides the story.

    Mark Webber says he is still in the hunt for the drivers’ world title after admitting that his hopes have taken a blow by qualifying a lowly fifth for the finale in Abu Dhabi.

    The Australian will start lowest of the four world championship contenders behind Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel who is on pole, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton who is second and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso third.

    “I’m not wrapped of course, to be fifth on the grid is not very good,” Webber told the BBC. “It’s disappointing of course but there is still a long way to go tomorrow.

    “The fat lady hasn’t sung yet. I would have liked to have been further up but I just couldn’t get the pace.”

    Webber added that while his grid position is a disadvantage, he needs to stay in play through tomorrow’s 55-lap race.

    “We need to be there at the end of course,” he said. “A lot of things can still happen in the race. I haven’t helped things by our performance today but we’ve seen races change so we are not… the championship isn’t decided today but it would have been nice to be further up.

    Asked whether he still felt he could overhaul Alonso and win the world title, he replied: “Well you could be more confident but at the end of the day we are still in the hunt and that’s the main thing.”

  3. For Fernando Alonso, starting in third puts him in a “strong position” in winning the drivers’ championship. provides the story and can be read below:

    Fernando Alonso acknowledged that qualifying third for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – two places ahead of main title rival Mark Webber – put him in a “strong position” to clinch the world championship on Sunday, but did not think he could get too confident.

    Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton claimed the front row places ahead of Alonso, but both need the Spaniard to be further down the order in the race if either is to snatch the title, while Webber has to out-score the Ferrari by nine points.

    But Alonso said nothing had really changed from the situation before the weekend.

    “I think we are more or less in the same situation as we were two days ago before first practice,” he said. “We know the situation, we know the four contenders.

    “I think everything is on tomorrow’s race, anything can happen and we saw in last few events things changed – in Korea the Red Bulls were very strong and lost the race with mechanical issues, in Brazil we saw some problems with pitstops.

    “In the race anything can happen, we need to complete 55 laps without any problems. It will be a tough race, a long race, but we are in a position where we are very strong.”

    Alonso had been down in fifth place following the first Q3 runs before improving to row two. He blamed traffic for his poor first attempt in the pole shoot-out.

    “Obviously it was a tough qualifying for everyone, changing positions in Q2 and Q3, you never know how competitive you are until Q3 finishes,” said Alonso.

    “The first attempt was not great, traffic in the first sector so I knew with the second tyres there was some potential to come so I pushed to the limit and third place is great.”

  4. Jenson Button says he has no intention of trying to disrupt McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton’s title rivals’ races in tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi decider.

    The out-going world champion reckons that with Hamilton needing to win with Fernando Alonso not scoring, and both Red Bulls also taking lowly finishes, there is little he could do to assist his team-mate anyway.

    Instead Button is focusing on helping McLaren defend its 32-point advantage over Ferrari in their battle for second in the constructors’ championship. He has qualified fourth for the race.

    “Second in the constructors’ is important to the team even though we can’t win it, so that’s the aim for tomorrow,” said Button.

    “It’s very difficult for Lewis to win the championship unless the other three guys pretty much aren’t in the race, so it’s just a case of get as many points as I can, and I’m looking forward to it.

    “[Hamilton] still needs 24 points and me finishing in front of Alonso – unless I’m finishing ninth – it doesn’t really help Lewis.

    “We’re among the championship contenders, which you could say means we’re going to be in their way, but we can’t hold back, so we’re going to be out there trying to get as many points as we can.”

    Although qualifying seems to have strengthened Alonso’s position, as he starts in third, two places ahead of nearest points rival Mark Webber, Button said it was still not safe to declare any of the title contenders a favourite for the championship.

    “I still haven’t got a clue – we haven’t started the race yet,” he replied when asked who his money would be on.

    “If it finishes like it is, Alonso still wins the championship. But after Turn 1 it could be different to what it is now, so there is no favourite still.”

    Button added that he was delighted with his car in qualifying, particularly having been unhappy with its performance in practice.

    “It was much better than yesterday – I was nowhere yesterday,” he said.

    “Q3 was very good, Q2 was reasonably good. In Q1 I had a massive brake vibration issue that I was struggling with. It got better through qualifying, but I still had a vibration, which doesn’t help with the front locking problem.

    “I’m happy with the car, it’s just a pity on that last lap I went off the circuit in the last sector.

    “Yesterday I was really struggling with the car with lower downforce. Today we put the same downforce level on that Lewis is running and it seems good, I’m pretty happy with the car. I’ve been tweaking the car all day and I’ve made a big leap from where I was yesterday.”


  5. After taking his tenth pole position of the season, Sebastian Vettel has said taking the title will be a bonus. has the story.

    Sebastian Vettel says he will be happy just to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tomorrow, and that all the pressure regarding the championship is on Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber.

    Vettel clinched his 10th pole position of the season at Yas Marina today, with championship leader Alonso third on the grid and Webber only fifth.

    If Vettel wins the race tomorrow, he still needs Alonso to finish fifth or lower and Webber third or lower to win the championship. But says he will be content with just the victory.

    “I will feel very happy, but depends who else wins [the title],” the Vettel. “It is not dependent on me, all I can do is maximise my performance and then others have to deliver. Pressure-wise, we are not leading the championship so maybe there is more pressure on Fernando and Mark.

    “Tomorrow we will do our maximum and then we will see what happens. It looks tight here, tighter than other places with Ferrari strong and McLaren very strong.

    “After the race there are screens around the track and there is time to see where others have finished, and see if there is something to celebrate or not.

    “Ten pole positions in one season is not too bad, so whatever comes now, I think is a bonus anyway. My season has been up and down, I should be in a good position and I am not.”

    Vettel believes he and Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber would have been quicker in qualifying if they’d chosen to do two runs, like McLaren and Ferrari, instead of one.

    “It was tough, the conditions were tricky because the temperature dropped and in the late evening yesterday we didn’t look too good,” he explained. “But we made a good step today. We did the best job we can – we’re in front of everyone else.

    “In hindsight, it was probably quicker if we did two runs – but if there’s anybody to blame it is myself. I thought it might be too tricky on the options if the first tyre was not there.

    “I’m surprised the circuit ramped up but we went out last and I did it. Ten poles is a great achievement, and shows how good our car is.”

  6. Fernando Alonso has emerged as odds on favourite in the title fight following Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying, despite only taking third on the grid.

    Although Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton start ahead of Alonso, both need the Ferrari to finish down the order even if they win – as Alonso can still be champion by finishing fourth if Vettel wins or 10th if Hamilton wins.

    His key rival is Mark Webber, who is just eight points behind in the standings, and the Australian has only qualified fifth.

    If the race finished in qualifying order, the final championship standings would therefore see Alonso on 261 points, Vettel on 256, Webber on 248 and Hamilton on 240.

    Alonso’s nightmare scenario had been an all-Red Bull front row, as he would then have lost out to Webber if the Australian won with Vettel second. Had Hamilton – whose McLaren team has shown improved form this weekend – got between Red Bull and Alonso then the Spaniard’s situation would have looked even more bleak.

    Instead, Webber’s disappointing qualifying result puts Alonso firmly in the driving seat, as Webber will be hard-pressed to over-haul Alonso’s points advantage without winning, due to the gaps between scores further back being so much smaller.

    Bookmakers have reduced the odds on an Alonso title following qualifying, with the likes of William Hill, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power now making him a very strong favourite at 4/7. Hamilton’s odds have been reduced from 100/1 at some bookmakers earlier in the week to 25/1 at many now, while Webber’s are lengthening across the board, with many listing him at 5/1.


  7. Williams driver Rubens Barrichello was left feeling thrilled after qualifying in seventh position. has the details.

    Rubens Barrichello declared himself delighted with seventh on the grid in Abu Dhabi, while his Williams team-mate Nico Hulkenberg blamed unexpected handling changes for his slump to 15th place, a week after his amazing pole in Brazil.

    Barrichello will start from the ‘best of the rest’ position tomorrow, behind the Red Bulls, Ferraris and McLarens, and admitted he had not anticipated such a result having struggled in practice.

    “It was a great qualifying, especially considering where we were yesterday,” he said. “On Friday we were struggling a little, but we have improved the car in every aspect and I am just delighted with the outcome today.

    “Seventh is better than I expected and I hope we can maintain this tomorrow. Of course tomorrow is another day, but my engineers and I have good momentum together this weekend, so I am very positive.”

    Hulkenberg was a second slower than Barrichello in Q2 as he found himself back on row eight.

    “To begin with, Rubens and I were quite evenly matched but I ended up in P15 while Rubens made it into the top 10,” said Hulkenberg.

    “In Q1 everything was fine, with the prime tyre working well. We then selected the option for Q2 and everything changed. My car suddenly behaved very unexpectedly, I lost balance and grip and the car was just sliding around all over the place. It was very strange and we will be looking into it tonight.”

    But the German is still optimistic that he can salvage some points from the weekend.

    “With a good start, we could gain some places and end up with a more positive result tomorrow,” said Hulkenberg.

    The team’s engineering director Patrick Head confirmed that something unusual had happened to Hulkenberg’s car’s behaviour.

    “Nico had shown the potential needed to make it into Q3, but something caused understeer in the slow corners in his final set of tyres,” Head said.

  8. Lewis Hamilton was delighted to qualify on the front row for Sunday’s race in Abu Dhabi and says the McLaren is the most competitive it has been for several races.

    The Briton still has an outside shot at the title, though he would need misfortune to strike all three of his rivals in order to overhaul them. But he says he is just happy to have a car that he hopes can challenge for victory.

    “We’ve had a much better start to weekend,” said Hamilton. “The guys did a great job to finally fix the rear wing and get it working to the point we can use it – we have got good straightline speed and the rest of car has some good improvements.

    “We were a lot more competitive this weekend, we had a great feeling – nothing to lose and everything to gain. I’m happy to be up there and this is the highest I have qualified for some time now, so it’s good.

    “We are chilled and happy, it was a great job by Jenson as well. It’s a good step to hopefully score more points than Ferrari tomorrow, I can’t complain.”

    Hamilton says he will be able to enjoy Sunday’s season finale without feeling any pressure for the title.

    “In 2007 and 2008 there was incredible pressure on, but this weekend it is a huge difference to me,” he said. “I am here enjoying myself and looking forward to tomorrow.”

    Lewis Hamilton believes he is in a strong position for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, starting from the front row of the grid with nothing to lose.

    The McLaren driver only has a chance of the title if he wins the race and misfortune strikes Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

    But he says he will not focus on the title or those fighting for it around him, he is free just to go for the race win.

    “I have nothing to lose, I want to win the race,” Hamilton said. “I’m going to go out there and give it absolutely everything. The others have a lot more to worry about that I do. We have nothing to stress about, just racing.

    “I’m not standing here saying I hope everything goes wrong for others. I’m going to go out to win the race, what happens after that I don’t really care.

    “I hope Jenson [Button] is up there with me so we can finish on a high with the team – a 1-2 would be great. But I can’t influence anything that happens behind me, all I can do is influence is my position, so I will do everything to win the race.”

    Hamilton says he is not worried about interfering with the battle between Alonso and the Red Bulls: “I don’t have to worry about who is around me, everyone has to worry about who is around them.

    “I’ve got to focus on winning the race, I have nothing to lose – if I don’t finish, I don’t finish. If I win, I win. The others are in a much different position.”


  9. Both Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa have escaped receiving any penalties from the race stewards during an incident in qualifying. has the details.

    The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stewards decided that Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa’s near-miss in qualifying did not require any further investigation, and also decided not to issue any penalties for a separate incident between Massa and Rubens Barrichello.

    Hamilton had wiped out a track marker bollard while jinking to avoid Massa following a moment of confusion in Q2.

    The Briton spoke to the stewards about the incident, and after hearing his explanation they decided it was not worthy of investigation.

    Massa felt the stewards made the right call on both incidents.

    “On my last out-lap, I came up behind so much traffic and it was all very confusing, especially as Hamilton, who was ahead of me, had slowed a lot at Turn 14,” said Massa.

    “At the end of the session, I was called to the stewards to discuss this incident and also the one with Hamilton again in Q2.

    “This sort of thing can happen as can be seen from the fact that no action was taken.”

  10. Felipe Massa has admitted that he could have qualified higher in Abu Dhabi had he realised he had made it past the chequered flag in time for a final flying lap in Q3.

    The Ferrari driver only just made it before the clock hit zero, but thought he had been too late so took it relatively easy at the start of his next lap before realising.

    “I reached the exit of the final corner, I saw the red light and, instinctively, I thought I had not got there in time to do the flying lap,” Massa explained.

    “In fact, I had made it, but I did not push immediately as hard as I could have done, so I came back to the pits when I realised I would not have improved my time.

    “It’s a real shame because I could definitely have done better and therefore started further up the grid.”

    He still managed to qualify sixth, and is confident he can get among the title contenders and help team-mate Fernando Alonso in the race.

    “Tomorrow, I am expecting a very hard fought battle between three teams – us, McLaren and Red Bull – who are all very much on the pace,” said Massa.

    “I will try to make up some places at the start and then to do the maximum for the team. However, in terms of performance, I think the situation is better than we could have expected.”


  11. Martin Whitmarsh has commented that Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix could be a thrilling for the television viewers and fans at the track considering the fight for the championship between four drivers. has the story.

    McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes Sunday’s four-way Formula 1 world championship title decider could be one of the most exciting races in the history of the sport, after overseeing Lewis Hamilton to second on the grid in qualifying at Abu Dhabi.

    Hamilton is one of four drivers in with a chance of winning the world championship, but must win the race with Alonso not finishing and both Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel scoring poorly if he is to do so.

    But even if Hamilton’s chances are a long-shot, Whitmarsh believes the prospect of a four-way battle is a thrilling development for F1 as a whole.

    “I reckon tomorrow has all the ingredients to be one of the most thrilling days in the history of Formula 1, and I’m sure that trackside spectators and TV viewers alike will be on the edges of their seats during what promises to be a truly dramatic sporting occasion,” he said.

    Whitmarsh added that while Hamilton must win the race, Jenson Button – who showed strongly in qualifying with fourth place – will also be tasked with pushing hard to secure McLaren’s second position in the constructors’ championship.

    “Both Lewis and Jenson drove superbly in qualifying today, and will line up second and fourth on tomorrow’s grid as a result,” he said.

    “In fact Lewis missed out on bagging pole position by just three-hundredths of a second – and inevitably you’re always just a smidgen disappointed when it’s as close as that at the front.

    “Nevertheless, his goal tomorrow will be a unilateral one: to score 25 world championship points.

    “He’s well placed to do just that – and, as ever, he’ll be pushing just as hard as he knows how. He’ll have a competitive race car tomorrow, and in our view he’ll be in decent shape to deliver the win we need.

    “Jenson, too, is well placed to score heavily, and thereby consolidate Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’s second place in the constructors’ world championship.”

  12. Mark Webber says the outcome of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix remains ‘impossible to predict’ despite title rival Fernando Alonso edging closer to the championship with a top-three grid slot.

    Alonso would take the title if the race finishes in grid order on Sunday – which means the man under pressure to move up the order is Webber, who could manage no better than fifth in qualifying following a disappointing session.

    Yet despite the challenge he faces, the Australian remains bullish about his title prospects – and thinks there are still so many possibilities open for all the four title contenders in the final event of the season.

    “The script is impossible to predict,” said Webber who needs to outscore Alonso by nine points tomorrow to stand a chance of winning the championship. “Let’s have a look at the end, and the world champion – one second after the race they will give it to him, whoever he is.”

    Webber admitted that he had simply not been quick enough in qualifying at the Yas Marina, with his Red Bull Racing team electing to take just one longer run on option tyres as opposed to two efforts.

    “I did not expect to be fifth, I expected to be further up. But that is what happened,” he explained. “The stop watch starts at the beginning of the session, it ends at the end of the session and that is where I am. Of course I am not rapt with the qualifying today. Q1 and Q2 and P3 all looked okay, it was the crucial session that did not come together for us, which is a shame for us.”

    He added: “In the end, if I was on pole, I am still not world champion. Tomorrow is the day when they are going to hand out what happens so I am still perfectly positioned to capitalise on any misfortune or someone has big tyre degradation, pit stops, safety cars – I can get amongst anything there still. So let’s see how it goes. At the moment of course I am still disappointed but that is human nature.”

    Webber also denied that his recent form – which has seen him outraced by Vettel since the Italian Grand Prix – was the result of a lack of confidence in the car.

    “I think people forget that I was six hundredths off winning Suzuka qualifying,” he said. “Brazil was very close and every time Sebastian has won a race I have been two seconds behind him. We live by the sword and it is not like he is 25 seconds down the road and I’ve forgotten how to drive.

    “Obviously I would love to have had some victories of late, but I have done everything I can do get those. In the end, I haven’t got them because I haven’t deserved them. It is as simple as that.

    “We won in Budapest with quite a nice drive, we won at Silverstone so not a bad drive. I could be sitting here with no victories, like Felipe [Massa] but I have a few. So it is not too bad.”

    An in-depth interview with Mark Webber can read on the Link:

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