Mighty lap from Hamilton secures pole position for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
3 November, 2012
Nov.3 (GP247) Lewis Hamilton scored his sixth pole position of the season in fine style, when he powered around the sparkling Yas Marina Circuit to nab the top spot start on a track that he clearly enjoys. He has qualified on the front row for all four editions of the race in the United Arab Emirates.
Hamilton’s pole winning lap in the McLaren was mighty, set in his first flying run during Q3, and it did the business without him having to have a final run while his rivals all gave it their best shots, but in vain.
Hamilton said afterwards, “I’m very excited. It’s the first time for a long time to be ahead of the Bulls and starting at the front. It’s going to be tough in the race and I hope we are strong enough to fight them once again. The car’s felt beautiful all weekend but we’ve not made any improvement since last weekend so I guess it just likes the track and hopefully it will continue to like it tomorrow.”
Mark Webber turned the tables on his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel by qualifying second, ending the German’s run of front row starts at the marina based circuit. In the three practice sessions Vettel had the edge over Webber, and thus it was something of a surprise that the Australian nabbed the second fastest time of the session.
Webber said, “Credit to Lewis and McLaren – they have a quick car and we’ve been bumped off the front row for the first time in a while. We did the best we could, it was a pretty smooth qualifying and we’re still a long way up the grid. There’s a little bit of friendly fire going on which we need to tidy up. Seb’s still involved in the drivers’ championship and there’s the constructors’. The car is working pretty well on Sundays but Lewis and JB have done some pretty strong long runs as well.”
For Vettel it was a bittersweet evening as he looked a sure thing for a front row start, even pole position, but a troubled day ended his hot run. Nevertheless, he still out qualified his world championship rival Fernando Alonso,who was down in seventh.
But Red Bull will be concerned that Vettel’s car suffered brake problems in FP3 which curtailed his running to about five minutes, and then at the very end of the session the world champion parked his car under the hotel with an undetermined problem. Note: Vettel was subsequently relegated to the back of the grid for a fuel irregularity during qualifying. Report here>>>
“I dont know why I had to stop, I was asked to stop. It’s probably some problem. It shouldn’t be something major. This morning wasn’t ideal not being able to run. Nevertheless, we were settling in quite well, the pace was there. McLaren, in particular Lewis, are pretty quick and were out of reach today. I’m not entirely happy with the last part of qualifying. It was quite tricky for me. I should have been a little quicker. I think we can be happy overall. The race pace should be good tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it,” reflected Vettel in the post qualifying press conference.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner told BBC, “There was a request that came from the engine ranks, but at moment I have no idea why.”
Maldonado summed up his evening, “We have shown all weekend that we are quite competitive. I did my best in qualifying. The car was there, I’m happy for the team and happy for myself. I’m happy for tomorrow. We need to look at ourselves. Points will be important for us. I will push at the maxmium and we will see. I think we have strong pace and are competitive like the top teams.”
Also impressing was Kimi Raikkonen whose consistency this season has been astounding, he will head up the third row after setting the fifth best time in his Lotus.
“It was pretty good,” said the Iceman. “It was the best the car has been all weekend. We have a good chance for the race. For me, the tyres were good from the first lap. The car has been good and I’m looking forward to the race.”
Since the first session on Friday, Jenson Button has not managed to match the pace of his McLaren teammate and will start sixth, his Q3 best time 0.660 adrift of Hamilton’s best.
“It was not very good. All weekend, the car has been very good. The pace has been there but in qualifying I had too much lap time. If I knew why, we would have sorted it out. We will look at it when I get back. Obviously the car is quick, Lewis is on pole by quite a bit. Most of the weekend, I’ve felt happy. I don’t know where that has has gone. We just about got into Q3 as well,” reflected Button.
Alonso and Ferrari have looked out of sorts all weekend – despite a host of upgrades bolted onto the F2012 in Abu Dhabi. Alonso will head up the fourth row, while his teammate Felipe Massa will start directly behind him from ninth on the grid.
The Brazilian was unhappy with the result of qualifying, “Not good [qualifying] we expected fifth or sixth,” he said. “The track is important here. McLaren were not on pole in the last race and the Red Bull were by a big margin so the track counts for a lot. We had some different parts on Fernando’s car because he is better on the data. I hope we will be competitive in the race.”
Alonso did not mince his words, “We were not competitive today. I’m happy with my performance. We struck the maximum. We did a 1:41.5 in Q1, a 1:41.5 in Q2 and a 1:41.5 in Q3. Normally, the pace improves for Sunday so let’s hope we can recover some pace.”
Finding pace in his Mercedes from nowhere was Nico Rosberg, who split the Ferrari duo on the timing sheets, and will start from eighth. His teammate Michael Schumacher failed to make into Q3 and will line up 14th on the grid.
Rounding out the top ten was Romain Grosjean in the Lotus who was simply no match for his world champion teammate on the night.
Neither the Force Indias or Saubers were able to break through into Q3 despite showing some promise in the free practice sessions leading up to qualifying.
Jean Eric Vergne spun his Toro Rosso on a fast lap in Q1 which should have seen him progress into Q2 – had he kept it together, instead he will start 18th.
Final word to the man who shone brightest on the night, “It’s always such a nice view when you start from first. You have to appreciate it because there are not many opportunities to do that in F1. It would be fantastic to [win for the team before leaving for Mercedes]. The guys have worked so hard. My decision [to leave McLaren] has been difficult for all of us so to finish on a high would be such a blessing. To be able to get pole today is something that I can give them back.”
Subbed by AJN.
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying – Saturday, 3 November 2012
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:41.933||1:41.277||1:40.978||17|
|3||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||1:42.160||1:41.511||1:41.073||16|
|11||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||1:42.579||1:42.019||16|
|13||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||1:42.572||1:42.218||16|
|23||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||1:45.766|
|Q1 107% Time||1:48.601|
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