Hamilton celebrates pole position at Abu Dhabi

A commanding drive in qualifying has given Lewis Hamilton pole position for Sundays Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but the twilight session had more drama afterwards, when Sebastian Vettel was disqualified from the session after his Red Bull was unable to produce a fuel sample to the FIA scrutineers.

It was a bitter blow for the championship leader, who will be forced to start from the rear of the field. It’s a decision that will be a huge relief for his main title rival, Fernando Alonso, who qualified a disappointing seventh-fastest, which becomes sixth following Vettel’s penalty.

Up at the front of the pack, Hamilton was simply dominant. Quickest in two of the three preceding practice sessions, he was top of the timesheets in each of the three phrases of qualifying to claim an all-important pole position and end Red Bull’s recent qualifying dominance.

Mark Webber ended up as the second-fastest overall, managing to demote Vettel to third-quickest before the FIA came knocking.

Hamilton was dominant in qualifying at Abu DhabiVettel’s Saturday had been fraught. After suffering from a lack of mileage in the preceding practice session, the German set about trying to make up for lost set-up time. He suffered a close brush with the barriers in Q1, before launching his RB8 over the kerbs in Q2. At the end of Q3, his car seemingly ran out of fuel on his slowing-down lap, consigning him to the same fate that befell Hamilton at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Pastor Maldonado claimed a fine fourth place – now third – in his Williams, finishing ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, Alonso, Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean.

Despite some solid practice pace, neither Force India nor Sauber could make the final qualifying cut, with Sauber-bound Nico Hulkenberg ranked quickest of those who failed to make it into Q3. The German will line up ahead of Sergio Perez, Paul di Resta, Michael Schumacher, Bruno Senna and Kamui Kobayashi.

Schumacher, Senna and Kobayashi all had lacklustre qualifying performances, winding up comfortably slower than their better-positioned team-mates as each continues their recent run of poor Saturday outings.

The Toro Rossos again took up their customary position on the ninth row of the grid, with Daniel Ricciardo once again consigning team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne to an early bath by beating him to the final spot through to Q2 – although Vergne didn’t help his cause with a spin on his last run.

The battle for the final three rows of the grid was rather more closely fought than in recent outings, with Heikki Kovalainen only just managing to out-pace Charles Pic, with the Marussia driver delivering his most impressive qualifying performance of his rookie season.

2012 Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix – Qualifying Session Times:

Driver Team Time Gap
1. Lewis Hamilton GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:40.630  
2. Mark Webber AUS Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:40.978 + 0.348
DSQ. Sebastian Vettel* DEU Red Bull Racing Renault RB8 1:41.073 + 0.443
4. Pastor Maldonado VEN Williams Renault FW34 1:41.226 + 0.596
5. Kimi Räikkönen FIN Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:41.260 + 0.630
6. Jenson Button GBR McLaren Mercedes MP4-27 1:41.290 + 0.660
7. Fernando Alonso ESP Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:41.582 + 0.952
8. Nico Rosberg DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:41.603 + 0.973
9. Felipe Massa BRA Scuderia Ferrari F2012 1:41.723 + 1.093
10. Romain Grosjean FRA Lotus F1 Renault E20 1:41.778 + 1.148
  Q2 Cut-Off – 1:41.907   Time Gap
11. Nico Hülkenberg DEU Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:42.019 + 0.112
12. Sergio Pérez MEX Sauber Ferrari C31 1:42.084 + 0.177
13. Paul di Resta GBR Force India Mercedes VJM05 1:42.218 + 0.311
14. Michael Schumacher DEU Mercedes AMG F1 W03 1:42.289 + 0.382
15. Bruno Senna BRA Williams Renault FW34 1:42.330 + 0.423
16. Kamui Kobayashi JPN Sauber Ferrari C31 1:42.606 + 0.699
17. Daniel Ricciardo AUS Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:42.765 + 0.858
  Q1 Cut-Off – 1:43.582   Time Gap
18. Jean-Éric Vergne FRA Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari STR7 1:44.058 + 0.476
19. Heikki Kovalainen FIN Caterham Renault CT01 1:44.956 + 1.374
20. Charles Pic FRA Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:45.089 + 1.507
21. Vitaly Petrov RUS Caterham Renault CT01 1:45.151 + 1.569
22. Timo Glock DEU Marussia Racing Cosworth MR01 1:45.426 + 1.844
23. Pedro de la Rosa ESP HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:45.766 + 2.184
24. Narain Karthikeyan IND HRTF1 Cosworth F112 1:46.382 + 2.800

* Q3 session times disqualified after his car was unable to produce a viable fuel sample in post-scrutineering checks.

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.