Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vettel matches Mansell's pole record

Double Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel dug deep to seize pole position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday and equal Nigel Mansell's 1992 record of 14 in a single season

The 24-year-old German, who has already clinched his second title with Red Bull, saved his best for last after McLaren's Lewis Hamilton had been fastest in the first two phases of qualifying as well as final practice.

Hamilton will start the season's penultimate race alongside on the front row, with team mate and fellow Briton Jenson Button third.

Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber, seemingly no closer to a first win of the season, lines up fourth.

The pole was the 29th of Vettel's career and 17th in 18 races this year for Red Bull.

"I think it's going to be a long, fun race," said Vettel, who has won both of the two races held to date at the Yas Marina circuit, where last year he won from pole to become Formula One's youngest champion.

"They will be very quick in the will be a long fight to the chequered flag," he added, grinning at the McLaren drivers sitting on either side in the post qualifying news conference. "I'm confident and ready.

"We expected if we got everything right to be closer, much closer than in practice," added the German, who hit the barriers on Friday.

"I felt there was more in the car and we just had to get to it. Overnight we tried to find where the problem was and this afternoon it was already much better."

Hamilton, who lapped just nine thousandths of a second faster than Button, appeared to have done enough for his second pole of a troubled season but Vettel pipped him right at the finish.

"I'm happy with today," said Hamilton. "And to not have any penalties is a blessing for me."

Ferrari's double champion Fernando Alonso and Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa shared the third row, with the latter well away from Hamilton after six collisions between the two this year.

The next rows also followed in pairs, with Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher seventh and eighth and ahead of Force India's Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta in ninth and 10th.

Struggling former champions Williams, with a meagre five points from 17 races representing their worst showing in F1, will fill the back row after Brazilian Rubens Barrichello failed to get a lap in.

"We had a brand new engine this morning and it was looking good. We went out and had difficulties after two laps (in practice). We tried to review the situation but before qualifying the team told me there was no way we could go out," said Barrichello.

His Venezuelan team mate Pastor Maldonado qualified 17th but has a 10 place penalty for exceeding his engine quota for the season.

Qualifying Times:

1. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 1m 38.841s
2. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 38.622s
3. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1m 38.631s
4. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1m 38.858s
5. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 39.058s
6 Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 39.695s
7. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 39.773s
8. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 40.662s
9. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Mercedes 1m 40.768s
10. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes no time Q3

11. Sergio Perez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari 1m 40.874s
12. Vitaly Petrov Russia Renault-Renault 1m 40.919s
13. Sebastien Buemi Switzerland Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 41.009s
14. Bruno Senna Brazil Renault-Renault 1m 41.079s
15. Jaime Alguersuari Spain Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 41.162s
16. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Sauber-Ferrari 1m 41.240s
17. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Cosworth 1m 41.760s*

18. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Lotus-Renault 1m 42.979s
19. Jarno Trulli Italy Lotus-Renault 1m 43.884s
20. Timo Glock Germany Virgin-Cosworth 1m 44.515s
21. Daniel Ricciardo Australia HRT-Cosworth 1m 44.641s
22 Jerome d'Ambrosio Belgium Virgin-Cosworth 1m 44.699s
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy HRT-Cosworth 1m 45.159s
24. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Williams-Cosworth no time

Source: Reuters Sports

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