Hamilton takes pole at the first ever Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton has claimed pole position for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this evening in the Middle East, after going over two thirds of a second quicker than his nearest rival in qualifying. Despite leading Q1 and Q2 earlier in the qualifying hour, strong competition from Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber forced the Briton to go for broke, and ultimately eased ahead of the Red Bulls to take his fourth pole position of the season.
With the tyres proving difficult to warm up for a single-lap run, all drivers opted for one multi-lap stint on the harder tyre in Q3, with Hamilton emerging from the pitlane in time for just four flying laps compared to his rivals’ five. After scuffing his first flyer by running wide at turn 17, Hamilton bolted to the top of the timesheets with a 1m41.773s on the second time of asking.
Although that time went unbeaten for over three minutes, the Briton had to stay on the pace to the end, with both Webber and Vettel ousting him with times of 1m41.726s and 1m41.615s respectively. But, just 15 seconds after Vettel, Lewis flashed past the start/finish line to clock a time of 1m40.948s, beating Vettel by over half a second.
Despite showing strogly in practice, the Brawn GP cars were unable to challenge at the front, with Rubens Barrichello going fourth on a 1m41.786s, and champion-elect Jenson Button taking fifth on a 1m41.892s. The Briton just fractionally beat Jarno Trulli’s time of 1m41.897s for his best grid position since the European Grand Prix in August. BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica (1m41.992s) comfortably beat team-mate Nick Heidfeld (1m42.343s) in the fight for seventh, while Nico Rosberg (1m42.583s) and Sébastien Buemi (1m42.713s) rounded out the top ten qualifiers.
There were few surprises in Q2, as all the usual suspects fell by the wayside, although a transmission failure for Heikki Kovalainen was a major blow to McLaren after a strong qualifying for the Finn looked on the cards. Kimi Räikkönen (1m40.726s) fell short of Q3 by just under a tenth, and will line-up on tomorrow’s grid ahead of rookie Kamui Kobayashi (1m40.777s), Kovalainen (1m40.983s), Kazuki Nakajima (1m41.689s) and Jaime Alguersuari (1m41.689s).
Fernando Alonso failed to progress from Q1 for the first time since the three-part session was introduced in 2006, with his time of 1m41.667s putting him just 16th of the 20 runners. He will be joined by Vitantonio Liuzzi (1m41.701s), Adrian Sutil (1m41.863s), Romain Grosjean (1m41.950s) and Giancarlo Fisichella (1m42.184s) at the back of the grid tomorrow evening.
Here are the full results,
|7||5||Robert Kubica||BMW Sauber||1:40.520||1:40.545||1:41.992||25|
|8||6||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||1:40.558||1:40.635||1:42.343||24|
|17||21||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:41.701||10|
|18||20||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:41.863||10|