Vettel signs off championship-winning season with ninth consecutive victory

Sebastian Vettel sets a new Formula 1 record with his ninth consecutive race victory at Interlagos.

Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber waves goodbye from the championship with second position at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

As for Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari driver gave chase to the Red Bulls throughout the race but the end result was a podium.

The threat of rain showers did not played a major factor during the race and even thought it wasn’t a straightforward victory for Vettel, the four-time world champion still had to do some overtaking plus recover from a pit-stop drama.

Vettel had lost the lead at the start as both Nico Rosberg and Alonso got away better off the grid.

Rosberg led out of the Senna S, but Alonso ran out of space and lost momentum to Lewis Hamilton.

And yet, both Mercedes were overtaken at the end of lap one though, with Vettel easily reclaiming his usual number one spot from Rosberg as Alonso passed Hamilton.

Webber, who had won the opening lap battle with Felipe Massa, quickly followed Alonso past Hamilton, with both soon overtaking Rosberg as well.

Alonso put up a fight against Webber and did not lose second position until lap 13. He then regained it when the Red Bull had an issue on its right-rear wheel at the first pitstops, but Webber only needed two laps to catch and re-pass the Ferrari.

Although Webber was able to chip away at his team-mate lead, the world champion was always able to respond.

Vettel’s big lead turned out to be crucial as both Red Bulls made simultaneous final pitstops – to the surprise of a crew prepared for Webber, not Vettel.

That halved Vettel’s advantage to six seconds, and the lead battle then threatened to come truly alive as rain appeared with both Webber and Alonso started closing in.

In the event, the thick dark clouds refrained from opening during the final laps, and the top trio spread out again, allowing Vettel to take a record-equalling thirteenth win of the year.

With Rosberg dropping back through the field, Hamilton and Massa began battling for fourth until both hit trouble.

Massa was left furious by a drive-through penalty for crossing the pit entry line, while Hamilton tangled with Valtteri Bottas as the Williams driver moved to un-lap himself into the Descida do Lago.

With Bottas crashing into retirement, Hamilton picked up a puncture and was given a drive-through penalty for causing the collision.

Those dramas played a part to McLaren’s best result during its painful 2013 season, though Jenson Button and Sergio Perez’s progress from P14 and P19 on the grid to fourth and sixth was mainly down to excellent race pace. The duo finished in between Rosberg at the chequered flag.

Massa and Hamilton recovered to seventh and ninth, split by the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg.

Daniel Ricciardo gave Toro Rosso the final championship point in his last appearance before leaving for Red Bull Racing, holding Paul di Resta, Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil off.

As for Lotus, after a promising season the team came to a miserable end. Romain Grosjean suffered a massive engine failure while running eighth, while Heikki Kovalainen was outside the points again in P14 having fallen to P18 on the opening lap.

Marussia beat Caterham in the constructors’ championship’s tail-end battle for the first time.

Caterham had been the quicker of the pair at Interlagos, but Giedo van der Garde was penalised for ignoring blue flags and Charles Pic had a late suspension failure, meaning Jules Bianchi gave Marussia the ‘win’ in the race day battle too.

So a fantastic achievement by Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing. Victorious once again this season with eight consecutive wins and taking the Formula 1 championship for the fourth successive time with 13 victories in total.

Next year will be fascinating as new rules are set to shake up the order but can the world champion’s continue that winning formula? It’s going to be interesting to see how their rivals will do to beat them.

Brazilian Grand Prix, race results after 71 laps:

1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault           1h32:36.300
2.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault           +10.452
3.  Alonso         Ferrari                    +18.9
4.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes           +37.3
5.  Rosberg        Mercedes                   +39.0
6.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes           +44.0
7.  Massa          Ferrari                    +49.1
8.  Hulkenberg     Sauber-Ferrari             +1:04.2
9.  Hamilton       Mercedes                   +1:12.9
10.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
11.  Di Resta       Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap
12.  Gutierrez      Sauber-Ferrari             +1 lap
13.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap
14.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault              +1 lap
15.  Vergne         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
16.  Maldonado      Williams-Renault           +1 lap
17.  Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth          +2 laps
18.  van der Garde  Caterham-Renault           +2 laps
19.  Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth          +2 laps

Fastest lap: Webber, 1:15.436

Not classified/retirements:

Pic            Caterham-Renault             59 laps
Bottas         Williams-Renault             46 laps
Grosjean       Lotus-Renault                3 laps

World Championship standings, round 19:

1.  Vettel        397
2.  Alonso        242
3.  Webber        199
4.  Hamilton      189
5.  Raikkonen     183
6.  Rosberg       171
7.  Grosjean      132
8.  Massa         112
9.  Button         73
10.  Hulkenberg     51
11.  Perez          49
12.  Di Resta       48
13.  Sutil          29
14.  Ricciardo      20
15.  Vergne         13
16.  Gutierrez       6
17.  Bottas          4
18.  Maldonado       1

1.  Red Bull-Renault          596
2.  Mercedes                  360
3.  Ferrari                   354
4.  Lotus-Renault             315
5.  McLaren-Mercedes          122
6.  Force India-Mercedes       77
7.  Sauber-Ferrari             57
8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         33
9.  Williams-Renault            5

Vettel takes pole in soaking Sao Paulo

Sebastian Vettel achieved his 45th career pole position in Formula 1 despite the wet conditions at Interlagos, Sao Paulo.

The 2013 world champion took the top spot by a margin of six tenths of a second over rival Nico Rosberg. A clear sign of his dominance this season.

The Red Bull Racing driver was in flying form in an Q3 session delayed by 47 minutes due to intense rainfall.

Although Romain Grosjean briefly held provisional pole by taking on intermediates before anyone else, Vettel’s first lap on that rubber put him 1.1 seconds clear of all his rivals.

Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso were left to battle for second position, with the Mercedes eventually taking it and reducing Vettel’s advantage to 0.623 seconds.

Third was still an excellent result for Alonso given Ferrari’s recent form, as he held off Mark Webber by 0.063s seconds.

Lewis Hamilton was half a second off team-mate Rosberg’s pace in fifth, while Grosjean tumble down to sixth for Lotus.

Toro Rosso starred in the wet conditions and got both cars into Q3. Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne will share row four, beating Felipe Massa’s Ferrari and Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber.

Conditions had fluctuated through both Q1 and Q2, with the latter getting ever wetter.

That meant early times largely stood, except for Hulkenberg who managing to jump into tenth at the expense of Heikki Kovalainen, who missed out by 0.015 seconds.

Both Force Indias, McLarens and the Williams of Valtteri Bottas departed in Q2.

Despite crashing on the exit of the right-hander following Descida do Lago, Sergio Perez still managed to out-qualify Jenson Button to P14.

Q1 appeared to be following a similar pattern until a late improvement in track conditions allowed Vergne to escape the drop-zone.

That pushed Pastor Maldonado onto the elimination list, along with Esteban Gutierrez, the Caterhams and the Marussias, with Charles Pic ‘best of the rest’ by half a second.

So yet another qualifying masterclass from the four-time world champion. Can Sebastian Vettel score nine consecutive victories on race day? Or will we see his Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber winning in his final Formula 1 race. It’s going to be a fascinating Brazilian Grand Prix.

Qualifying times from Interlagos:

1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m26.479s
2. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m27.102s
3. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m27.539s
4. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m27.572s
5. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m27.677s
6. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m27.737s
7. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m28.052s
8. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m28.081s
9. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m28.109s
10. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m29.582s
11. Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m27.456s
12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m27.798s
13. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m27.954s
14. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m28.269s
15. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m28.308s
16. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m28.586s
17. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m27.367s
18. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m27.445s
19. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m27.843s
20. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m28.320s
21. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m28.366s
22. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m28.950s

107 per cent time: 1m31.315s

Record-breaking eighth win for Vettel

Sebastian Vettel achieved his eighth consecutive victory in Formula 1 with a dominant drive at the Circuit of the Americas.

The Red Bull driver has now passed Michael Schumacher’s 2004  achievement with eight wins in a single season.

While Vettel quickly established a comfortable lead and kept it between six and ten seconds for most of the race, Romain Grosjean denied Red Bull a one-two by keeping his Lotus ahead of Mark Webber with second place.

Webber’s start was arguably slightly better than Vettel’s, but he ran out of space trying to pass his team-mate into the uphill Turn 1 and was overtaken around the outside by both Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton.

The Red Bull dismissed the Mercedes down the outside into the hairpin at the end of the back straight on lap 13, then began a race-long chase after Grosjean.

A change of position seemed inevitable as Webber rapidly caught the Lotus, but the Australian’s tyres faded in the final laps and he had to settle for third.

Hamilton retained fourth position despite a challenge from Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.

Alonso had jumped Sergio Perez’s McLaren at their sole pitstops, then hunted down and passed Nico Hulkenberg.

The Ferrari and Sauber both gained on Hamilton in the final laps before Alonso began to run out of tyre grip.

Hulkenberg dived back ahead of him into Turn 1 starting the final lap, but Alonso cut back inside and reclaimed the position.

Behind Perez, Valtteri Bottas scored the first points of his Formula 1 career with an excellent drive to eighth for Williams.

The Finn stayed safely ahead of Nico Rosberg as the Mercedes put on a series of mid-race overtaking moves to grab ninth after Rosberg’s poor qualifying result.

Jenson Button grabbed the final championship point from Daniel Ricciardo late on. Jean-Eric Vergne and Esteban Gutierrez clashed on the last lap, while Felipe Massa had to make an extra pitstop and finished only P13.

Heikki Kovalainen’s first appearance as a substitute for Kimi Raikkonen proved very disappointing. He lost ground at the start, had to make an extra pitstop for a new front wing, then struggled with KERS issues on the way to P15 for Lotus.

The only retirement was Adrian Sutil, who clashed with Pastor Maldonado’s Williams on the back straight on the opening lap. The Force India slammed into the barriers, prompting a safety car.

Race results after 56 laps at the Circuit of the Americas:

1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault           1h39;17.148
2.  Grosjean       Lotus-Renault              +6.2
3.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault           +8.3
4.  Hamilton       Mercedes                   +27.3
5.  Alonso         Ferrari                    +29.5
6.  Hulkenberg     Sauber-Ferrari             +30.4
7.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes           +46.6
8.  Bottas         Williams-Renault           +54.5
9.  Rosberg        Mercedes                   +59.1
10.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes           +1:17.2
11.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1:21.0
12.  Vergne         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1:24.5
13.  Massa          Ferrari                    +1:26.9
14.  Gutierrez      Sauber-Ferrari             +1:31.7
15.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault              +1:35.0
16.  Di Resta       Force India-Mercedes       +1:36.8
17.  Maldonado      Williams-Renault           +1 lap
18.  Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth          +1 lap
19.  van der Garde  Caterham-Renault           +1 lap
20.  Pic            Caterham-Renault           +1 lap
21.  Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth          +1 lap

Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:39.856

Not classified/retirements:

Sutil          Force India-Mercedes         1 lap

World Championship standings, round 18:

1.  Vettel        372
2.  Alonso        227
3.  Hamilton      187
4.  Raikkonen     183
5.  Webber        171
6.  Rosberg       161
7.  Grosjean      132
8.  Massa         106
9.  Button         61
10.  Di Resta       48
11.  Hulkenberg     47
12.  Perez          41
13.  Sutil          29
14.  Ricciardo      19
15.  Vergne         13
16.  Gutierrez       6
17.  Bottas          4
18.  Maldonado       1

1.  Red Bull-Renault          553
2.  Mercedes                  348
3.  Ferrari                   333
4.  Lotus-Renault             315
5.  McLaren-Mercedes          102
6.  Force India-Mercedes       77
7.  Sauber-Ferrari             53
8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         32
9.  Williams-Renault            5

Next race: Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos. November 22-24.

Vettel leads Red Bull front row at Austin

Sebastian Vettel continues his dominance in Formula 1 with a front row lock-out for Red Bull Racing at the Circuit of the Americas.

The four-time world champion looked as though he would have to give best to his team-mate Mark Webber for most of the final segment of qualifying.

Webber was a tenth up on Vettel after their first Q3 run and the Australian improved further on his second run to take provisional pole thanks to a fresh set of Pirellis.

And yet Sebastian managed to take to the challenge and rise above. Fastest of all in the final sector, meaning he pipped Webber to pole position by just over a tenth of a second.

The Red Bulls were more than three quarters of a second quicker than Roman Grosjean, who put his Lotus ‘best-of-the-rest’ in third, narrowly ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez.

As for Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus substitute Heikki Kovalainen, the Finn qualified in eighth, ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Gutierrez.

Bottas was the qualifying star in Austin, going fastest of all in Q1 and fourth in Q2, but he made a mistake on his crucial lap in Q3.

Last-gasp improvements in Q2 from Gutierrez and Kovalainen knocked Daniel Ricciardo out of the top ten shootout. The Toro Rosso driver will start P11 for the race, ahead of Paul di Resta.

McLaren’s Jenson Button missed the cut by less than two tenths and  wound up P13. He will then drop three places on the grid thanks to a penalty for overtaking under red flags in practice.

Nico Rosberg wrestled an ill-handling Mercedes to P14, ahead of the similarly subdued Ferrari of Felipe Massa and Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso.

Adrian Sutil’s poor qualifying run continued as he dropped out in Q1, along with Maldonado’s Williams, the Marussias and the Caterhams.

Caterham’s Giedo van de Garde just edged the battle of the backmarkers to qualify in P19, ahead of Jules Bianchi, Charles Pic and Max Chilton.

So another pole position for Sebastian Vettel. His 44th in the sport and number five front row lock-outs for the constructors’ champions Red Bull Racing this season. Can Sebastian win the race on Sunday? Bring on the action, State-side!

Qualifying times from Circuit of the Americas:

1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m36.338s
2. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m36.441s
3. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m37.155s
4. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m37.296s
5. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m37.345s
6. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m37.376s
7. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m37.452s
8. Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m37.715s
9. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m37.836s
10. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m38.034s
11. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m38.131s
12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m38.139s
13. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m38.364s
14. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m38.592s
15. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m38.696s
16. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m38.217s*
17. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m39.250s
18. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m39.351s
19. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m40.491s
20. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m40.528s
21. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m41.401s
22. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m40.596s**

107 per cent time: 1m44.668s

*Three-place penalty for failing to observe red flags in practice
**Five-place penalty for gearbox change

Vettel victorious at Abu Dhabi

Sebastian Vettel, the 2013 Formula 1 world champion, continued his winning streak with his seventh consecutive victory at the Yas Marina circuit.

Pole sitter Mark Webber did not make the best start and was overtaken on either side by his Red Bull team-mate Vettel and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.

As the Mercedes defended from Webber, Vettel composed his familiar fine opening lap form by going 1.9 seconds clear.

With Vettel pulling away up front, Webber gradually fell away from Rosberg and was soon under pressure from the Lotus of Romain Grosjean.

Webber and Grosjean pitted together on lap eight and returned in the same order, while Vettel was one of the last frontrunners to stop as he continued to lap faster on his old soft tyres than all those on fresh mediums.

The leading Red Bull finally came in at the end of lap four and resumed in the lead, ahead of the Ferrari duo of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, both of whom had yet to stop.

Vettel continued to reel off the remaining laps, nearly lapping the entire field and crossed the start/finish line recording his tenth victory of the season.

Webber recovered from his poor first stint by closing Rosberg down once they were both on the medium-compound Pirellis and sweeping round the outside of the Mercedes on lap twenty.

Rosberg kept the Red Bull in sight thereafter, but did not have the pace to seriously challenge Webber.

Similarly, Grosjean was unable to keep up with the Mercedes. The Lotus driver only narrowly cleared the Ferrari pair after his second stop before putting on a late charge that fell just short of usurping Rosberg.

The main excitement in the closing stages of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was the fight for fifth, as a number of cars closed on the one-stopping Force India of Paul di Resta.

Lewis Hamilton, who felt a vibration and had his team to check the brakes before the start, had already lost ground in the second stint.

Unlike Webber and Grosjean, the Mercedes driver was unable to overtake the yet-to-stop Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez.

Once the Sauber pitted, Hamilton caught the Force India of the late-stopping Adrian Sutil, which was on mediums.
By then the Mercedes had Massa, Nico Hulkenberg and Alonso not far behind.

All three made it by Sutil’s Force India, but not before Massa had brilliantly dived by the Mercedes to run fifth. Alonso also got by Hulkenberg during the battle.

As the other cars pitted, Alonso closed on Massa before the Brazilian stopped.

Alonso left his final pit-stop until there were just eleven laps to go and changed to softs. He rejoined just ahead of Massa and alongside Jean-Eric Vergne, getting ahead of the Toro Rosso as the Ferrari jumped over the kerbs.

The move attracted the attention of the race stewards and will be investigated post-race.

But Alonso charged on and started closing on Hamilton, who in turn was closing on di Resta, setting up a battle for fifth over the last half-dozen laps.

It took Alonso no time to overcome the Mercedes on lap 50 and he passed di Resta soon after.

As Alonso charged on, setting fastest lap on the final lap, di Resta successfully held off Hamilton for an impressive sixth.

With Vergne fading on his old rubber and eventually pitting, Massa moved up to eighth position, while Sergio Perez’s McLaren overtook Sutil on the final lap to take ninth.

Charles Pic led the fight of Formula 1’s minnows early on, but was overcome by Giedo van der Garde. Never the less, he finished well clear on the Marussias, headed by Jules Bianchi.

After being put to the back after qualifying for failing a floor deflection test, Kimi Raikkonen’s race ended in just 300 metres…  He tried to pass the Caterhams at the first corner and the ensuing contact with van der Garde put the Lotus out.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race results after 55 laps:

1.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1h38m06.106s
2.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault      +30.8s
3.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              +33.6s
4.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         +34.8s
5.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               +1m07.1s
6.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes  +1m18.1s
7.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              +1m19.2s
8.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari               +1m22.8s
9.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes      +1m31.1s
10.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  +1m33.2s
11.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault      +1m35.9s
12.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      +1m43.6s
13.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        +1m44.1s
14.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari        +1 lap
15.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault      +1 lap
16.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    +1 lap
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    +1 lap
18.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault      +1 lap
19.  Charles Pic          Caterham-Renault      +1 lap
20.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth     +2 laps
21.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth     +2 laps

Fastest lap: Alonso 1m43.434

Not classified/retirements:
Kimi Raikkonen      Lotus-Renault        0 lap

World Championship standings, round 17:

1.  Vettel        347
2.  Alonso        217
3.  Raikkonen     183
4.  Hamilton      175
5.  Webber        166
6.  Rosberg       159
7.  Grosjean      114
8.  Massa         106
9.  Button         60
10.  Di Resta       48
11.  Hulkenberg     39
12.  Perez          35
13.  Sutil          29
14.  Ricciardo      19
15.  Vergne         13
16.  Gutierrez       6
17.  Maldonado       1

1.  Red Bull-Renault          513
2.  Mercedes                  324
3.  Ferrari                   323
4.  Lotus-Renault             297
5.  McLaren-Mercedes           95
6.  Force India-Mercedes       77
7.  Sauber-Ferrari             55
8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         32
9.  Williams-Renault            1

Next race: Austin Grand Prix, Circuit of the Americans. November 15-17.

Webber edges out Vettel to Abu Dhabi pole

It was another Red Bull Racing front row and yet this time it’s Mark Webber who starts on pole position. The Australian edging out his team-mate Sebastian Vettel with a late Q3 run to take the top spot at Yas Marina.

Earlier, both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg topped the qualifying segment for Mercedes, but Red Bull’s pace at the crucial moment was too much, leaving the Silver Arrows on row two.

Vettel recorded a time of one minute, 40.091 seconds on his first run of Q3, ahead of the Mercedes duo, with Webber apparently struggling.

But a great final effort helped the Australian to one minute, 39.957 seconds and even a late improvement from the four-time world champion was not enough to deny Webber pole position.

Rosberg qualified in third ahead of his team-mate Hamilton, who spin off during his final run. As for Kimi Raikkonen, the Lotus driver secured fifth place.

Nico Hulkenberg continued his fine form for Sauber with sixth, ahead of Romain Grosjean’s Lotus and the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

The lap times in Q2 were again highly competitive and two big names fell. Fernando Alonso’s car hated the final, twisty sector and the Ferrari driver could only managed P11, not helped by a minor error as well.

Jenson Button also failed to make into Q3 with the McLaren driver describing a “very strange” loss of grip after final practice.

With the Abu Dhabi circuit getting faster in Q1, the last soft-tyred runs proved crucial and it was Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil’s Force India who were the midfielders to fall.

Giedo van der Garde topped the Caterham/Marussia battle, while Jules Bianchi (who qualified in P20) will receive a five-place grid penalty after his gearbox needed changing thanks to his crash in final practice.

A few hours after qualifying, the race stewards have decided to exclude Kimi Raikkonen after his Lotus car failed a floor deflection test. The Iceman will now start Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the back.

So a fantastic achievement by Mark Webber in his final season of Formula 1 racing. This pole position is his 13th in the sport and he matches Jack Brabham’s record and on Alan Jones’ birthday too. Let’s hope he can win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to sign off his career in style.

Qualifying times from Abu Dhabi:

1.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault       1m39.957s
2.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault       1m40.075s
3.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes               1m40.419s
4.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes               1m40.501s
5.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari         1m40.576s
6.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault          1m40.997s
7.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari                1m41.015s
8.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes       1m41.068s
9.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m41.111s
10.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari                1m41.093s
11.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes   1m41.133s
12.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes       1m41.200s
13.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m41.279s
14.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault       1m41.395s
15.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault       1m41.447s
16.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari         1m41.999s
17.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes   1m42.051s
18.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault       1m43.252s
19.  Charles Pic          Caterham-Renault       1m43.528s
20.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth      1m44.198s
21.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth      1m43.398s*
22.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault          1m40.542s**

107 per cent time: 1m47.741s

*Five-place grid penalty for gearbox change
**Sent to back of the grid for failing a technical inspection