Untouchable Hamilton claims Abu Dhabi pole (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Hamilton kept the two Red Bull drivers behind to take pole position
Hamilton kept the two Red Bull drivers behind to take pole position

Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to take pole position by two-thirds of a second.

The two Red Bulls will line up behind him but team mate Heikki Kovalainen was left 13th after his McLaren broke down during Q2.


Hamilton began qualifying with an impressive show of strength, reeling off a series of quick laps on the medium tyre. He finished off with a 1’39.873, which at that point was 1.4s faster than anyone else, and spent the rest of the session in the pits.

Button got closest to Hamilton’s time, setting a 1’40.378 later in Q1. Kovalainen, however, only escaped the drop zone with his final lap, almost a whole second down on Hamilton.

Kazuki Nakajima also made a late escape from the bottom five and those two 11th-hour improvements left Fernando Alonso dropping to a disastrous 16th – ending his final qualifying session for Renault.

The Force Indias, having shown some promise in practice, were also knocked out in the first part of the session.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16. Fernando Alonso, Renault – 1’41.667
17. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India-Mercedes – 1’41.701
18. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes – 1’41.863
19. Romain Grosjean, Renault – 1’41.950
20. Giancarlo Fisichella, Ferrari – 1’42.184


A few drivers, including the McLaren duo, tried to get through Q2 using just the soft tyre to set a time, but generally found the medium tyres better. Kovalainen, however, was in real trouble – his McLaren came to a halt shortly after he’d set a 1’40.983.

Once again, Hamilton was the man to beat, setting a 1’39.695 to snatch the top spot from Vettel by three-tenths. There was nothing his team mate could do about being eliminated however.

The other Finish driver was also in trouble. Kimi Raikkonen was left in 11th as Nico Rosberg burst free of the drop zone with his final lap.

Sebastien Buemi made it into the final ten comfortably, but team mate Jaime Alguersuari was over half a second slower than anyone else, ending up 15th.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 1’40.726
12. Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota – 1’40.777
13. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes – 1’40.983
14. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota – 1’41.148
15. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1’41.689


A host of different drivers took provisional pole position during Q3 – but with Hamilton biding his time it seemed inevitable they would be disappointed.

And so it proved, as the McLaren driver timed his final lap to perfection and set a 1’40.948 to demote Vettel to second.

Webber lined up behind his team mate. The two Brawns followed with Button, who complained of tyre vibrations, beaten by Barrichello once again.

The only Toyota driver to reach Q3 was Trulli, who managed sixth, while the BMWs start their final Grand Prix from the fourth row.

The fuel weights will be published in a few hours’ time, but they’re not likely to offer Hamilton’s rivals any realistic hope they can keep him from victory. Tomorrow’s race already looks like being a fight for second place.

Top ten drivers in Q3

1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes – 1’40.948
2. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault – 1’41.615
3. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault – 1’41.726
4. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes – 1’41.786
5. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes – 1’41.892
6. Jarno Trulli, Toyota – 1’41.897
7. Robert Kubica, BMW – 1’41.992
8. Nick Heidfeld, BMW – 1’42.343
9. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota – 1’42.583
10. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1’42.713