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

8 thoughts to “Webber edges out Vettel to Abu Dhabi pole”

  1. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton has blamed his car for the spin during the qualifying session at Yas Marina. Autosport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton blamed a problem with his Mercedes for his spin in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying.

    The incident on his last Q3 lap left Hamilton behind team-mate Nico Rosberg in fourth on the grid.

    The Briton had expected to be a pole contender after running Red Bull close through practice and topping Q1.

    “Something gave way on the right-hand side of the car,” said Hamilton.

    “I was going through the chicane and it snapped out.

    “I tried to pull away and it wouldn’t move, so something’s busted.”

    He admitted he was concerned that being back in fourth on the grid would hurt his victory chances.

    “This is a very difficult circuit to overtake on so being at the front means everything,” said Hamilton.

    “Hopefully we can get a good start and maybe still challenge for podium positions.

    “I’m just grateful I didn’t drop too far down.”

    Team-mate Rosberg doubts Mercedes can challenge the front-row-starting Red Bulls in Sunday’s race, so is focusing on the team’s battle with Ferrari and Lotus for second in the constructors’ championship.

    “We’re ‘best of the rest’ which is the target this weekend, and we get close to Red Bull from time to time,” said Rosberg.

    “The constructors’ is what counts for us, and locking out second row on the grid when Lotus is coming back [on form] and Ferrari are well back is good for us.”

  2. McLaren’s Jenson Button was left feeling puzzled by a loss of pace during the qualifying session at Yas Marina. Autosport.com has the story.

    Jenson Button was unable to explain his McLaren’s lack of performance after slumping to 13th in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying.

    The Briton was comfortably in the top 10 in each of the three practice sessions but struggled in qualifying and was four tenths slower than team-mate Sergio Perez in Q2.

    Button could not pinpoint the source of his problems but believes a combination of the change in temperature for the evening qualifying session, and the McLaren’s lack of downforce, played a part.

    “I’m very puzzled,” he said. “It’s frustrating, this morning it was working really well and I’ve been happy with the car all weekend.

    “I don’t know if it’s the temperature but I struggled to get the tyres working. You wouldn’t believe how hard I worked the tyres at the start of the lap but it’s not enough.

    “It’s completely different to what I’ve experienced all weekend. Everything was a challenge today.”

    After Perez’s strong run to fifth in last weekend’s Indian Grand Prix, McLaren had hoped the pair’s strong practice pace was a sign of further progress with its troubled 2013 car.

    But Button believes the extreme set-up adopted this weekend – an aggressive rear wing setting that has the McLarens among the quickest through the speed traps – is a consequence of the car’s limitations and will only restrict its performance in the remaining races.

    “We were maxed out on the front wing, there isn’t anything else we can do to the car to help out with the front end,” he added.

    “So I don’t know. We’re very limited with what we can do with set-up. It’s tough and it’s going to be like this in the next couple of races.”

  3. Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus Formula 1 car has failed a front floor deflection test after qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    The Finn had qualified in fifth place, but following post session checks by the FIA his car was found not to be in conformity with the regulations.

    A statement issued by the governing body said that both Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg’s cars had been tested, with the Lotus not passing while the Sauber complied.

    It stated that the Lotus’s “front floor deflected more than 5mm vertically when the load was applied vertically to it at the point which lies 100mm of car centre line on the LHS [left hand side]”

    Lotus representatives have been summoned to the stewards to explain what happened, and whether or not there is an explanation for the failure such as a broken part.

    At the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier this season, Romain Grosjean escaped a penalty after a similar situation when it was proved that a broken floor stay had resulted in it not passing the deflection tests.

    Lotus successfully argued then that an impact with the kerbs had damaged the stay, which resulted in the test irregularity.

    Source: Autosport.com

  4. This was a difficult qualifying session for Fernando Alonso. The Ferrari driver could only manage P11 while his team-mate Felipe Massa went quicker and will start in eighth. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Fernando Alonso has shrugged off Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa’s recent qualifying superiority despite failing to join the Brazilian in Q3 in Abu Dhabi.

    Alonso had outqualified Massa for 80 per cent of their time as Ferrari team-mates before the start of this season but the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying result was the fifth time in the last six races that Massa had been the quicker man on Saturday.

    The Ferrari qualifying battle through the 2013 season is 9-8 in Alonso’s favour, but the double world champion emphasised his dominant race record was the more significant comparison.

    Alonso has beaten Massa in every grand prix this year bar India last weekend, where he was delayed in first-lap collisions.

    “I think we need to see how everything goes at the end of the weekend,” said Alonso, who will start three places behind Massa in 11th at Yas Marina.

    “It’s not only about qualifying. There are many things you can do for qualifying that make the car quicker and then in the race you’re slower.

    “To take a conclusion from qualifying is a little bit difficult.

    “In the last three or four races it was Felipe in front of me in qualifying, but in those races I finished in front and I have a lot more points.

    “Saturdays are good for the show and for talking but the points are on Sundays.”

    Having struggled to match Alonso for much of their time together at Ferrari, Massa admitted that he was pleased the qualifying fight was now so close.

    But he conceded that Alonso still had the better race record, having outscored him by 207 points to 102 so far this season.

    “I’m just trying to use the car in the best way possible for qualifying,” said Massa.

    “For sure it’s not the same in the races. In some of the races I didn’t finish in the position I was supposed to.

    “But the situation is very competitive. I have no trouble getting the best out of the car.”

  5. The Mercedes team have found the cause in which Lewis Hamilton went into a spin in the final moments of qualifying. It was a lower right-rear wishbone failure. Autosport.com has the details.

    Lewis Hamilton’s spin on his final run in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was caused by a lower right-rear wishbone failure.

    Hamilton, who qualified fourth but potentially had the pace to be on the front row, reported something had broken after he spun at the exit of Turn 13.

    Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn revealed the suspension problem had been found, although the team has yet to isolate the cause.

    “It was a little bit of an unusual event because Lewis had got out of the corner when he lost control of the car,” said Brawn.

    “When we got the car back, we had fractured a wishbone so that’s why he lost control of the car.

    “It’s a circuit where there is a lot of grief over the kerbs and so on and we’re going back through the data to understand what may have provoked it.

    “It’s a system we have had for a long time with no problem so it may be an issue with that particular part or it may be an issue with the way that we are taking some kerbs or some particular event.

    “I don’t think there is any high risk for tomorrow and we should be able to fix it in parc ferme and race OK tomorrow.”

    Brawn stressed that Hamilton drove the Turn 12/13 right/left combination no different on the lap the failure occurred than he did previously.

    But he did not rule out the possibility that his drivers will have to adapt the way they are hitting certain kerbs to eliminate the risk of a repeat failure.

    “He was off the circuit on the kerb when it failed,” said Brawn.

    “It’s a part of the corner where he had always used that part of the kerb, but it’s pretty violent, a fast left-hander on the kerb at full throttle, so it’s a pretty serious event.

    “We are looking through the data to try and see where we may have induced the problem and then we can advise the drivers to avoid that if it is a particular event.”

  6. This was a really disappointing qualifying session from Ferrari. The car lacked pace and the team has blamed the track from its poor form. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Ferrari’s poor Abu Dhabi form is purely because Yas Marina is a difficult track for its car and not a sign of declining competitiveness, insist Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa.

    The pair were a long way off the pace in practice and had to settle for eighth and 11th in qualifying, with Massa ahead.

    The Brazilian believes Yas Marina simply highlighted how poor the 2013 Ferrari Formula 1 car is on traction.

    “I think this is a track where traction is so important,” said Massa.

    “It makes a big difference, and traction has been a problem for a long time with our car.

    “Depending on the track we can suffer more, and this is not a good track for us. And with very hot conditions, it’s even worse.

    “I was discussing it with Fernando and before qualifying we were pretty scared that it was going to be difficult to get to Q3.”

    Alonso agreed with Massa’s assessment, but was optimistic that the race might be better.

    “Sometimes we’ve seen races where it’s good to start in position 11 with new tyres, so hopefully tomorrow we’ll see another one,” said the Spaniard.

    “I think there’s nothing we can do. Obviously we would like to be more competitive, but we know that on some tracks we struggle a bit more historically, and we’ve confirmed that this year.

    “Normally on Sunday we improve our performance. We have to have a clean race, as starting at the back it is easier to get it wrong. You have to risk more to overtake, but that’s nothing really new.

    “We will attack in the race and recover positions.”

  7. Kimi Raikkonen was sent to the back of the grid at the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday after his Lotus failed a post-qualifying inspection.

    Stewards said in a statement that the Finn, who had qualified fifth at Yas Marina and is third in a championship already won by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, was excluded from the results after failing a front floor deflection test.

    “The stewards heard the explanation of the team that the relevant part broke upon contact with a kerb,” the statement said.

    “However the stewards did not accept that the incident referred to constituted an accident or excused failing the relevant test.”

    The car of Raikkonen’s French team mate Romain Grosjean failed a similar test at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July but on that occasion he escaped punishment after Lotus also argued it had been damaged by a kerb.

    Ferrari-bound Raikkonen has had a difficult weekend, hitting the headlines on Friday when he told reporters Lotus had not paid any of his wages this season and he had considered not turning up for Sunday’s race.

    The Finn’s punishment will be a boost for his future Ferrari team mate Fernando Alonso, who now moves up a place to 10th on the grid, and a blow for Lotus who are challenging Mercedes and Ferrari for second place in the constructors’ championship.

    Source: Reuters

  8. This was another impressive performance by Nico Hulkenberg. The Sauber driver hails the the team for this result after qualifying. Autosport.com has the story.

    Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg believes his Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying showing was one of his best drives of the 2013 Formula 1 season.

    Although his sixth place does not match the impressive third on the grid he secured at the Italian Grand Prix, he thinks the fact he was able to split the Lotuses deserves recognition.

    Hulkenberg then moved up to fifth position when Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus was excluded.

    “It was definitely, if you look over the year, one of the best qualifying performances,” Hulkenberg told AUTOSPORT. “Monza still stands out as a result but today has been pretty sweet as well.”

    Hulkenberg thinks that Sauber’s continued strong form owes more to the way he and his team have improved the way they work together, rather than to car development.

    “Since Monza really it is a positive upward slope and everybody in the team feels that,” he said. “There are positive vibes, a good mood, and it has lifted the motivation as well.

    “We haven’t had any updates recently – and it has been the same for weeks and weeks now.

    “But a couple of things have come together and all of them combined make us look so good. On top of that there might now be an element of me feeling even more confident in the car, the shoe is really comfortable now.

    “I have a lot of confidence in the car. The relationship with my engineer is better, everything is bedded in now in terms of being smoother. Those tiny details make a difference.”

    With the German encouraged by the long run pace of Sauber as well, he thinks there is a decent chance of a good result in the race.

    “I think the long run pace was very decent, similar to Ferrari and McLaren so I don’t think we have to hide tomorrow,” he said. “But it is going to be close and a tough battle.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *