Hamilton blitzes qualifying in Abu Dhabi, romping to pole ahead of Webber and Vettel
15:06 GMT, 3 November 2012
Lewis Hamilton proved to be untouchable in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he claimed his sixth pole position this year and 25th of his Formula One career.
The 27-year-old was fastest throughout all three sessions around the Yas Marina circuit that was bathed in warm fading sunshine when the session began and was under the floodlights when it ended as darkness set in.
Hamilton finished a third of a second
quicker than Red Bull's Mark Webber as team-mate and championship leader
Sebastian Vettel could only manage third, the first time he has failed
to make the front row of this event.
Pleased as punch: Lewis Hamilton grins like a Cheshire cat after sealing his sixth pole of the season
Vettel, whose car endured a brake issue
in final practice that kept him consigned to the garage for all but two
early installation laps and the final four minutes of the hour, rarely
looked comfortable during qualifying.
However, in leading Ferrari's
Fernando Alonso by 13 points in the championship standings, there are
four places between the German and the Spaniard who starts seventh.
however, failed to make it back to the pits, pulling his car over on
track at turn 18 after qualifying had concluded, which will be cause for
the stewards to investigate.
The three amigos: Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton and Webber pose for the media after qualifiying
1 L Hamilton McLaren
2 M Webber Red Bull
3 S Vettel Red Bull
4 P Maldonado Williams
5 K Raikkonen Lotus
6 J Button McLaren
7 F Alonso Ferrari
8 N Rosberg Mercedes
9 F Massa Ferrari
10 R Grosjean Lotus
Vettel, who was ordered by engine suppliers Renault to stop the car, was unable to throw any light on the reason why.
The German's car has suffered two
alternator failures in races this season, and if an engine change is
required it will mean a 10-place grid penalty.
'I don't know why I had to stop, I was asked to stop,' said Vettel.
probably some problem, but it shouldn't be something major. It was not
ideal this morning (with the brake issue), but we were settling in this
afternoon and the pace was there.
I wasn't entirely happy with qualifying. I should have been quicker,
but whether I had enough to beat Mark is on another sheet of paper.'
In the dark: Vettel stopped on his in-lap and could face a grid penalty
Vettel four places ahead of Alonso on the grid, he added: 'We have seen
so many up and down races this year. From where we start is quite good,
we're close to the front and we go from there.
wise we're still not 100 per cent clear, but we have to look after
ourselves, and race this guy (referring to Hamilton).'
As for Hamilton, he was unable to
explain either where his speed had come from, even though this has long
been one of his better tracks.
don't know,' said Hamilton when asked. 'The car has been feeling
fantastic, great from the get go, but we've no upgrade package so I
don't know. It was just great.'
Thumbs up: Hamilton was at his uncompromising best on the track
Behind Alonso will be Mercedes' Nico Rosberg along with Romain Grosjean in his Lotus who will start 10th.
In between Vettel and Alonso will be
Williams' Pastor Maldonado, Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus and the second
McLaren of Jenson Button.
After the middle 15-minute session
neither Force India failed to make it into Q3 for the second straight
race as Nico Hulkenberg qualified 11th and Paul di Resta 13th, the duo
split by two tenths of a second.
Pole position: Hamilton in action
in between is Sauber's Sergio Perez, who was baulked by Williams' Bruno
Senna in Q1, leaving the Brazilian who starts 15th vulnerable to a
penalty as he faces a stewards' investigation.
fading Michael Schumacher, heading into retirement for a second time at
the end of the year, starts 14th for the second successive race in his
Behind Senna, at present, will be
Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi and Toro Rossos of Daniel Ricciardo and
Jean-Eric Vergne, the latter failing to make it out of Q1 for the eighth
time in 18 races this season.
Hot stuff: Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen goes out for qualifying
Frenchman, who will enjoy a second season at Toro Rosso next year along
with Ricciardo following confirmation of the drive on Thursday by the
Faenza-based squad, spun late on his final flying lap to leave him 18th.
Marussia's Charles Pic, who has been
linked with a move to Caterham, will have impressed his potential new
employers by splitting Heikki Kovalainen and Vitaly Petrov.
Pic will start 20th, with
Kovalainen and Petrov 19th and 21st, with the second Marussia of Timo
Glock 22nd, whilst the HRTs of Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan
occupy the back row.