Hamilton on pole with title rivals off the front row

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Yas Marina, 2012Lewis Hamilton claimed his sixth pole position of 2012 in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull pair line up behind him on the grid but Sebastian Vettel could only manage third place – and then stopped with an apparent problem on his car.

Q1

Hamilton was comfortably fastest in the first part of qualifying with almost half a second in hand over everyone else – including those who returned to the track for a second effort.

Nico Rosberg improved to second with his last lap. The two Ferraris showed better pace on the medium tyre in the cooler temperatures of Q1, both drivers featuring in the top five.

Vettel had a brush with the barrier at turn 19 after running wide on the kerbs. But Jean-Eric Vergne made a more serious mistake as he began his final flying lap. He spun off at the penultimate corner, and unsurprisingly his last lap wasn’t good enough to get him into Q2. “The car is going from one balance to another,” he said after returning to the pits.

The usual six others were also knocked out, with a strong effort from Charles Pic putting him ahead of team mate Glock as well as Vitaly Petrov’s Caterham.

Bruno Senna made it into Q2 despite being held up by Sergio Perez in the turn five/six chicane, an incident the stewards are set to investigate.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’44.058
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1’44.956
20 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1’45.089
21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1’45.151
22 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1’45.426
23 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1’45.766
24 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1’46.382

Q2

Hamilton stayed on top in the second phase of qualifying though with a reduced gap of three-tenths of a second over Mark Webber.

Vettel took third but Ferrari continued to show improve pace with Alonso fourth. This was despite him catching Webber at the end of his lap and gesturing at the Red Bull driver as he crossed the line.

“We saw that,” said race engineer Andrea Stella on the radio, indicating they felt Alonso got close enough to Webber for his lap to be compromised. But as it turned out neither driver was in danger of being eliminated.

Few drivers managed to find improvements with their final laps. Nico Hulkenberg fell short of making Q3 by less than three hundredths of a second.

Michael Schumacher failed to make the cut amid some confusion on his team radio, leaving him 14th behind Perez and Paul di Resta.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’42.019
12 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.084
13 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’42.218
14 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’42.289
15 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1’42.330
16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’42.606
17 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’42.765

Q3

Hamilton used an extra-wide entrance to the final corner as he began his first lap in Q3. It began another superb lap which sealed his sixth pole position of the year.

Behind him the Red Bull drivers contested second place and it was Webber who had the edge this time. “I should have been a little bit quicker,” admitted Vettel afterwards.

A single run from Pastor Maldonado was good enough for him to take fourth place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Jenson Button could only manage sixth with his second run, over six-tenths of a second slower than Hamilton.

Alonso failed to improve with his last run and slipped to sixth. He had been delayed briefly as he left the pits when Grosjean left the pits in front of him but the stewards ruled Lotus had done nothing wrong.

That left the Ferrari driver four places behind title rival Vettel on the grid. But with Vettel pulling to a stop with an unidentified fault near the end of his in lap, there may be further developments to come for the championship contenders.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’40.630
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’40.978
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’41.073
4 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1’41.226
5 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1’41.260
6 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’41.290
7 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’41.582
8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.603
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’41.723
10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1’41.778

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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69 comments on Hamilton on pole with title rivals off the front row

  1. PhilEReid (@philereid) said on 3rd November 2012, 15:17

    Love this, it has a very nice layout.
    Also it’s interesting to see with Maldonado so quick in a straight line, he may cause problems for the Bulls, which can only help Alonso.

  2. usukpam (@usukpam) said on 3rd November 2012, 15:29

    @sorin : Do you remember the telemetry tweet saga after qualifying at Spa ? If Hamilton was on the same spec of McLaren like that of Button, he would have blown Button out of that rare pole spot.

  3. Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 3rd November 2012, 15:38

    Hamilton has really been on impervious form throughout this weekend & that culminated with a superb lap on his first Q3 run today as well as it culminating in a special four year anniversary since I started watching this sport (four years since his Brazil 2008 triumph).

    People are looking at Maldonado’s grid position (& how Vettel would be taken out) rather than his actual performance, which I was really intrigued by, seems as though he’s likened to Vettel in the sense that he possess this uncanny quality to pull some sincere time out of the rabbit on his final qualifying lap (Spain, Singapore & now Abu Dhabi) that enables him to put that Williams in positions where others assume it wouldn’t be in, although I don’t think the quality is on-par or at least, as notably proven as Vettel’s. Like Sumedh mentioned, he hasn’t hit or caused any trouble since Spa & I’m interested as to whether he can be some sort of a significance, ultimately in the title fight & particularly at the start If he can jump either of the Red Bulls, the Williams’ straight-line speed has been amongst the others at the top I believe.

  4. The tension is killing me: Stewards, hurry up and come to a verdict on Vettel!

  5. maxthecat said on 3rd November 2012, 17:22

    Considering it’s an open secret the Newey/Red Bull have been ‘bending’ the rules for the last few years i would think the stewards are looking for any chance to penalize that team. Hopefully Vettel will get at least a 5 place drop and give us some excitement tomorrow.

    • He Yue (@tknocry) said on 3rd November 2012, 17:25

      I think just seeing how the redbull will play around with the 2 drivers will get adequate excitement.As for the race win, Lewis will lead all the way to the check flat with huge gap unless something unexpected happen

  6. He Yue (@tknocry) said on 3rd November 2012, 17:23

    Someone speculates that Sebatien might suffer the same penalty as Lewis did in Spain, but so far it seems no penalty.

  7. elchuso said on 3rd November 2012, 19:00

    It was fuel ….. 150cc missing.
    Vettel has been penalized to a pit lane start.

  8. elchuso said on 3rd November 2012, 19:16

    Sorry.
    No pit lane start. Rear of grid start.

  9. If anyone had watched all 3 of the free practises then they would have seen and heard that the 2 Mclarens were different. Lewis has got a larger gap on his side pod area than Jenson, this was pointed out in the garage on Friday

  10. Yusha (@freebird78) said on 3rd November 2012, 19:43

    Vettel to start from Pit Lane. Think they are chaging the gear ratios?

    • elchuso said on 3rd November 2012, 19:53

      Sure. Otherwise they will not be able to overtake as easily ……. Allways “fiddling” with regulations.
      That’s what happens when you are allways on the razor’s edge ……
      Maybe the FIA inspectors would love to have a look at the “mysterious” liquid leak on Webber’s car on friday practice. Everybody suspects they are changing wheight balance by moving liquids from one container to another.

  11. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 3rd November 2012, 21:29

    Hamilton was immense today. Showed how much quicker than Button he is. Not even close! Mclaren is losing such a great driver… and Pastor, wow what an effort, this guy has pace to burn!

  12. elchuso said on 3rd November 2012, 21:43

    Gear ratios must be given to FIA after FP2, and must be the same for the rest of GP, so no gear ratio chage allowed.
    The question is … Why start from pit lane instead of last position ?? Does it means thay are alloved to change settings ?

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