F1 Abu Dhabi Quali Results & Full Report: Vettel Wins Pole, Hamilton & Alonso to start 2nd, 3rd, Webber 5th

What Happens When Everything Is Different but the Same

9:11am EST — Sebastian Vettel won another pole in a nail-biting finish to qualifying for the 2010 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.  Fellow title contenders Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and Mark Webber joined him in the top five starters, with Jenson Button helpfully slotting into fourth for teammate Hamilton.  Vettel looked to have pole in hand, but Hamilton and Alonso both had time for another lap after the session had ended.  Alonso jumped from fifth to third on that lap.  Robert Kubica had the surprising lap time to be knocked out by teammate Vitaly Petrov in Q2.  If the race were to finish in the starting order on Sunday, Alonso would still win the championship, with the points as such: Alonso, 261; Vettel, 256; Webber, 248; Hamilton, 247.  For more championship calculations, read the F1B championship points charts.

Vettel was quickest again in Saturday morning’s final practice with a lap time of 1:40.696, leading Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, and Button as the fastest five.  It was an uneventful session, with Vettel and Webber leading much of it, Webber a few tenths off Vettel’s times.  The Ferraris ran a few laps shorter than their competition, setting early times and staying in the garage a bit more than the others.  Alonso’s final practice time was nearly eight tenths slower than Vettel’s.  According to Mike Gascoyne, tweeting before the session, “The tyres here are not coming in on the first timed lap, fronts taking time to come in.”

The weather was windy but moderately clear as the first third of qualifying began at the Yas Marinz circuit, with Buemi, Alguersuari, and Glcok the first drivers out, soon followed by di Grassi.  Soon enough, all but the Mercedes, Red Bulls, Ferraris, Kubica, and Kobayashi were onto the track.  Five minutes into the session, the Ferraris joined the fray, both on hard tires.  There were fast times, but Hamilton’s first put his fastest with a 1:41.245, with Button second fastest, over a second behind his teammate.  Hulkenberg, another second behind, Alguersuari, and Petrov were the top five six minutes into the twenty-minute session.  Schumacher, Rosberg, Vettel, Webber, Massa, Sutil, Alonso, Kubica, and Kobayashi had yet to set a time, with neither of the latter two having yet left the garage.  Button, meanwhile, was complaining of a massive vibration.

The times were changing all the time, with Hamilton still eading, but Barrichello, Petrov, Button, and Heidfeld the top five, until Vettel went straight to third fastest with his first time.  Halfway through the session, Alonso had gone second fastest, with Schumacher third, Massa fourth, and Massa fifth, until Vettel (1:40.318) took fastest from Hamilton. Webber slid into third, with Rosberg fourth, dropping Alonso to fifth fastest.  In the knockout zone, Kovalainen, Senna, di Grassi, Gloxk, Klien, Kubica, and Kobayashi languished.  The final two had finally joined the rest of the drivers.  Alonso was faster than Webber, by almost three tenths, to be third fastest behind Vettel and Hamilton.  Kubica was thirteenth on his first proper run, with Kobayashi seventeenth.  With five minutes left, Vettel led Hamilton, Alonso, Webber, and Massa.  As times were set by everyone and only four minutes remained, Alguersuari was the driver in the knockout zone with the new teams.

Alonso, though, was fastest on his next lap with a 1:40.170, faster by a tenth and a half than Vettel.  Just over two minutes to go and the top five were back in the garage.  Alguersuari remained in the knockout zone.  Button popped into fourth as the seconds ticked down.  On his final lap, Rosberg was a surprisingly fast second, a potential spoiler for Vettel and Webber.  At the end of Q1, Alonso, with his previously posted time, led Rosberg, Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, Button, Barrichello, Massa, Hulkenberg, and Petrov as the top ten.  Those not knocked out were covered by about 1.6s, with Ferrari tweeting, “A reasonable start of the Q session but we are aware of the strength of our main competitors.”

Drivers Knocked Out at the End of Q1:
18. Buemi 1:41.824
19. Trulli 1:43.516
20. Kovalainen 1:43.712
21. Glock 1:44.095
22. di Grassi 1:44.510
23. Senna 1:45.085
24. Klien 1:45.296

The Ferraris were much quicker, the first out of the pitlane to start Q2, with the Mercedes, Hulkenberg, and Sutil joined them to start the fifteen minute session.  The Red Bulls made their appearance nearly three minutes later.  Alonso’s first time was a 1:40.475 with eleven minutes to go.  Five minutes gone in the session and Alonso led Massa, Hulkenberg, Liuzzi, and Sutil as the fastest five.  Button was soon fastest, beating the Spaniard by over two tenths.  Schumacher slid into third fastest between the Ferrari drivers while neither Vettel nor Webber had set a time, though they were out onto the circuit.  Petrov, then Barrichello were third fastest as Sutil, Vettel, Webber, and Hamilton were in the knockout zone, having set times, joined by Alguersuari, Koabayashi, and Heidfeld, who had not set times with half of the session left.

Webber was third fastest on his next lap, though teammate Vettel was fastest of all with six minutes left, the first driver to post a time under 1:40, with a 1:39.874.  Hamilton was firmly being in the knockout zone in sixteenth with five minutes left.  Everyone but Button and Kubica were out with four minutes left.  Vettel led Button, Alonso, Webber, and Barrichello as the fastest five while Massa was on the bubble in tenth.  Those four with a chance for the title were running on the softer compound.

Hamilton did have a bit of a run-in with Massa, running over a corner bollard/cone (and was later noted to be a camera by the BBC’s Sarah Holt) as the Brazilian went around him to the outside.  With just a minute left, Vettel pitted from the top, Hamilton having moved up to second fastest, with Button, Webber, and Alonso following.  Sutil, Heidfeld, Hulkenberg, Liuzzi, Alguersuari, and Kobayashi were in the knockout zone.   Rosberg was on another late quick lap to go from tenths to third fastest.  That knocked Kubica down into the knockout zone, with Pertov, pitted, just over a tenth faster than his teammate in ninth.  Schumacher was also up to eighth.  At the end of the times, Vettel was fastest (1:39.874), with Button, Rosberg, Webber, Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Schumacher, Barrichello, and Petrov those advancing to Q3.  They were covered by just under eight tenths.

Drivers Knocked Out at the End of Q2:
11. Kubica 1:40.780
12. Kobayashi 1:40.783
13. Sutil 1:40.914
14. Heidfeld 1:41.113
15. Hulkenberg 1:41.418
16. Liuzzi 1:41.642
17. Alguersuari 1:41.738

The final qualifying session of 2010 began under faded light with Barrichello leading out the McLarens and Ferraris.  They were joined by Webber, but no one else.  Schumacher was next out with seven and a half minutes to go in the ten minute session, followed by Rosberg.  Vettel joined in a minute later, with Barrichello, then Button having posted times.  The Briton’s was faster than Vettel’s in Q2, only to be bettered by Hamilton with a 1:39.582.  Alonso was third fastest, followed by Massa, with Barrichello’s the slowest time posted with just five minutes left for qualifying.  Webber was sixth fastest with his first time, though it was not a fast one.  Hamilton, Button, Alonso, Massa, and Barrichello pitted with four minutes left.  Webber’s first proper time took him to third fastest, just behind the two McLaren’s.  Vettel was fastest a moment later, though, with a 1:39.4468.

Everyone but Button was out with two and a half minutes to go, Webber remained fourth with his penultimate lap.  Vettel bettered his own sector one time.  Alonso, though, would have time for a lap after the flag, as would Massa.  Vettel’s final time was a 1:39.394, Webber was stuck with the best of fourth, while Hamilton remained second on his final lap.  Alonso moved up to third, dropping Webber to fifth.  If the race were to finish in that order on Sunday, Alonso would still win the championship, with the points as such: Alonso, 261; Vettel, 256; Webber, 248; Hamilton, 247.

Final Qualifying Times for the 2010 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi:
1. Vettel 1:39.394
2. Hamilton 1:39.425
3. Alonso 1:39.792
4. Button 1:39.823
5. Webber 1:39.925
6. Massa 1:40.202
7. Barrichello 1:40.203
8. Schumacher 1:40.516
9. Rosberg 1:40.589
10. Petrov 1:40.901


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