F1 Abu Dhabi Qualifying Report: Hamilton on Pole, Followed by Red Bulls and Brawns

What Happens When a Resurgence is a Resurgence

10:12am EST —Lewis Hamilton put his McLaren on pole for the inaugural Abu Dhabi GP, followed by Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Rubens Barrichello, and Jenson Button.  For the first time, Fernando Alonso was knocked out in Q1, and Kimi Raikkonen will begin his last race as a Ferrari driver in eleventh.  It will be a most interesting race Sunday, particularly once the fuel-loads are released.

After a Saturday morning practice that had Jenson Button back at the top of the time sheets, Lewis Hamilton maintaining McLaren’s resurgence, and Rubens Barrichello finishing out the top three, qualidying got underway at sunny Abu Dhabi.  Q1 began with Jaime Alguersuari, who had a hydraulic issue with his car and was unable to run in the final practice, was the first driver on-track, though most of the rest of the field soon followed.  The Red Bulls of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were the last to leave the garage.  Halfway through the session, Hamilton led Kubica, Trulli, Raikkonen, and Button as the top five, with Kobayashi, Fisichella, Grosjean, Vettel, and Webber in the knockout zone.  Once each had set a time, they moved up, but not by much, as Webber only jumped to fifteenth, and Vettel to tenth.  With five minutes left, the knockout zone was looking like usual, with Rosberg, Liuzzi, Grosjean, Kobayashi, and Fisichella.  That was unfortunate for rookie Kobayashi, as he was quite fast in the second Friday practice.  With four minutes left, Hamilton was the first driver to break into the  1:39s with a 1:39.873, had a 1.2 second lead (and was in the garage) over second-place time-setter Vettel, who led Raikkonen, Kubica, and Kovalainen as the fastest five.  In the last-minute, Webber and Heidfeld moved ahead, but finished the session eighth and fifth, respectively.  Hamilton was fastest.  Fernando Alonso was knocked out in Q1 by Kovalainen.

Knocked Out at the End of Q1:
16. Alonso 1:41.667
17. Liuzzi 1:41.701
18. Sutil 1:41.863
19. Grosjean 1:41.950
20. Fisichella 1:42.184

Kovalainen was the first out in Q2, with Buemi soon following.  Hamilton was out next with Webber following. With five minutes gone in the second session, only Kovalainen, Buemi, and Hamilton had set times, in that order, and with Hamilton well off the pace of the entire field from Q1.  Kovalainen pitted and Buemi set the fastest lap of the session, a 1:40.678.  Hamilton took the lead with slightly more than seven minutes left in the session.  With five minutes left in Q2, both Brawns were in the knockout zone, with Vettel, Kobayashi, and Rosberg.  Webber then took the lead, setting a fast lap of 1:40.357.  Barrichello moved up to fifth, but was quickly replaced by teammate Button, during the ever-darkening session.  The floodlights had been on throughout qualifying to fill in the light as the sun disappeared.  Vettel soon followed, making a Red Bull one-two leading Hamilton.  With one minute left, Kovalainen, Heidfeld, Nakajima, Alguersuari, and Rosberg.  At the end of the session, it was Hamilton fastest, Vettel, Button, Webber, and Trulli as the top five.  Kimi Raikkonen added his name to the list of poor qualifying by world champions in the last race with a team.  Kovalainen was knocked out as he stopped at the edge of the track with a gearbox failure and was pushed away by marshals.

Knocked Out at the End of Q2:
11. Raikkonen 1:40.716
12. Kobayahsi 1:40.777
13. Kovalainen 1:40.983
14. Nakajima 1:41.148
15. Alguersuari 1:41.689

Q3 began fully in the dark, as Sunday’s race will end. Only Hamilton and Trulli were not immediately out in Q3.  No times were posted until six minutes were left in the ten minute session.  Halfway through the session, Heidfeld led Vettel, Trulli, Buemi, and Kubica as the top five.  Hamilton still had not set a time.  Webber umped to the top, and was soon followed by Barrichello, then Button eclipsed both, setting a session fastest 1:42.366, though he was moved down by Trulli.  With just under three minutes left, Barrichello was setting a very fast lap, and went to the top.  Hamilton finally got a truly fast lap put together, and moved from tenth to first with a minute and a half left in the session.  Trulli was second, but Barrichello looked fast, with a fastest sector 1, but Hamilton matched it seconds after.  Webber moved to the top, but drivers were flying behind him.  Teammate Vettel was then fastest, but Hamilton reclaimed the top spot.  Barrichello was dropped to fourth.

Final Qualifying Times for the 2009 ABu Dhabi GP:
1. Hamilton 1:40.948
2. Vettel 1:41.615
3. Webber 1:41.726
4. Barrichello 1:41.786
5. Button 1:41.892
6. Trulli 1:41.897
7. Kubica 1:41.992
8. Heidfeld 1:42.343
9. Rosberg 1:42.583
10. Buemi 1:42.713


1 Comment

  1. […] Hamilton started on the pole for Sunday’s inaugural Abu Dhabi GP, after a near-domination of qualifying.  However, he had to get a great start in order to stay ahead of the slightly heavier Red Bulls to […]

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