Vettel equals record with 14th pole position

2011 Abu Dhabi GP qualifying

Sebastian Vettel matched Nigel Mansell’s record of 14 pole positions in a season in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton set a faster lap than Vettel’s pole position time in Q2 but couldn’t repeat it when it counted.

The pair share the front row of the grid for the third time in as many races in Abu Dhabi.


Rubens Barrichello’s poor weekend continued as the Williams driver was unable to set a time in Q1.

This effectively removed any competition over who would be eliminated before Q2 as both Lotuses, Virgins and HRTs were knocked out as usual.

But Michael Schumacher had to make a late return to the track as his place in Q2 briefly came under threat from Heikki Kovalainen. He had to use one of his sets of soft tyres, though he abandoned the lap as it became clear the Lotus wasn’t going to beat the Mercedes.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1’42.979
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1’43.884
20 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’44.515
21 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1’44.641
22 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’44.699
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1’45.159
24 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth


The Red Bull and McLaren drivers crossed swords early in the session. Mark Webber headed the times early on but he was quickly beaten by Vettel with a 1’38.516.

Hamilton had fractionally more time in hand, beating Vettel by less than a tenth of a second.

But the session was stopped shortly afterwards due to debris on the track. Felipe Massa and Jenson Button had dislodged a bollard at turn eight which sat on the racing line.

When the session restarted few of the front-runners returned to the track with the exception of Massa and Webber.

The two Force Indias made it into the top ten along with the two Mercedes.

Sergio Perez fell short of eliminating Schumacher by three-tenths of a second. He was eliminated along with his team mate, both Renaults and both Toro Rossos – Sebastien Buemi losing time with an off-track moment.

The last driver to set a time was Pastor Maldonado. He could only manage 17th and with a ten-place grid penalty pending he will share the final row of the grid with his team mate.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’40.874
12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’40.919
13 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’41.009
14 Bruno Senna Renault 1’41.079
15 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’41.162
16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’41.240
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1’41.760


First blood went to Hamilton in the shoot-out for pole position. The McLaren driver set a 1’38.704 and Vettel fell short of beating it by just four hundredths of a second.

It all came down to the final runs and Button briefly interjected himself into the battle for pole position, setting the quickest time with his last lap.

Hamilton took it back by a tiny margin – just nine-thousandths of a second. But his 1’38.622 was almost two-tenths slower than his best time from Q2 had been.

Nor could Vettel beat Hamilton’s Q2 time – but he had enough in hand to claim pole position. His last-second final effort gave him his 14th pole position of the year with a lap of 1’38.481.

He matches Nigel Mansell’s record from 1992, which was set when there were 16 races in a season.

The Ferraris, Mercedes and Force Indias took up rows three, four and five, with Paul di Resta opting not to set a time and preserve tyre life for the race.

Top ten in Q3

1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’38.481
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’38.622
3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’38.631
4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’38.858
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’39.058
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’39.695
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’39.773
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’40.662
9 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’40.768
10 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes

2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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67 comments on Vettel equals record with 14th pole position

  1. Good Evening Mr. Mansell … that was a nice one from Red Bull Pits…..

    I am sure Mr. Dietrich Mateschitz watching from the Aphine mountains must be one happy man. I would’nt be surprised if he pull in Adrain to start a Sports Car Company :)

  2. anyone notice that if he gets pole in the last race of the season he will get up to 5th place in the percentage of poles in one season list …overtaking a certain JM Fangio !!!

    there’s a name to conjure with !!!

  3. KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 12th November 2011, 17:06

    Once again, the United Church of Hamilton is out in force.. I’m yet to see the argument about ‘fastest qualifying time’, but I’m sure it’ll pop up eventually..

    A superb lap by Vettel, never doubted him for a second.. Apart from when I predicted Hamilton for pole.. Darn it!

    I just hope there’s no big controversies in the race with Hamilton, he’s in with a good chance of winning tomorrow…

  4. Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 12th November 2011, 17:06

    So possibly for the first time ever, we’ll have TWO Williamses on the back row of the grid. On one of the hardest tracks on the calendar for overtaking.

    Words fail me at this point.

  5. JCost (@jcost) said on 12th November 2011, 23:24

    Nigel did 14/16, didn’t him? However, Seb still can make 15/19! Wow!

  6. coefficient (@coefficient) said on 12th November 2011, 23:54

    Hi, check the footage of MSc pulling into the pits at the end of q2. He’s on inters. Weird?

  7. leap (@sian) said on 13th November 2011, 0:19

    didn’t see P1 from Vettel coming AT ALL, not going to lie. poor lewis (hoped a pole would cheer him up some more?), but end of day didn’t deliver when it mattered. should be a fascinating race for tomorrow! my eye is on Jenson and Nando!

  8. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 13th November 2011, 0:50

    I wonder if Kimi Raikkonen was watching qualifying. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when he realised Williams would start the race from 23rd and 24th … though admittedly, they’re there becuse of mechanical problems. And I got the distinct impression that Pastor Maldonado was just cruising so as not to burn his tyres, knowing full well that eleventh place was (theoretically) the highest grid place he could start from.

  9. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 13th November 2011, 2:34

    Another great qualifying session, good job by Daniel Ricciardo he is fighting for the seat in the STR hard,nice to see both the Mercedes & Force India in the top 10,Vettel just pulled it out when it matters,will be a exciting race today,watch out for Massa VS Hamilton.

  10. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 13th November 2011, 11:29

    Not a bad qualifying session. The last few minutes were brilliant. Seeing Vettel hold back for clean air was good. I don’t think Button or Hamilton really impeded each other but it shows just how Vettel is able to relax a little more under pressure.

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