Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the final round of the 2010 World Championship ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.
Mark Webber could manage only the fifth fastest time, which deals his title hopes a real blow. He has to hope for misfortunes to the others tomorrow, as starting behind Alonso on the road and with less points, he’s in a difficult position.
Alonso made some changes to his car, reverting to settings from Friday, while Hamilton and McLaren were able to get the maximum from their F Duct.
Despite that, he did not have an advantage over the Red Bull on the straights in the second sector.
In the first part of qualifying, Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel traded fastest laps as the track improved all the time. Even though it wasn’t for position, it was exciting stuff, building the atmosphere perfectly. Alonso was fastest, with the best compromise of the three cars, while McLaren was gaining on the straights but losing in the slower final sector, the opposite of Red Bull. Nico Rosberg did a spectacular lap to go P2 at the end of that first session.
Sebastian Buemi was eliminated in Q1, along with the new teams, outqualified by team mate Alguersuari for the sixth time in seven races. Both Lotus cars were ahead of both Virgin cars, with Jarno Trulli, who is under a little pressure, faster than Heikki Kovalainen.
In Q2, Hamilton had a torrid time, locking up on his first run and then almost colliding with Felipe Massa. He recovered to get through into the top ten.
Eliminated from the top ten for the first time this season was Robert Kubica in the Renault who was outqualified by his team mate Vitaly Petrov, which could prove crucial to the Russian’s chances of staying with the team next year.
In Q3 the pressure really started to show. The two drivers who had least to lose, Vettel and Hamilton, fought for pole position while Alonso and Webber looked out of it as Button was third after the first runs.
But Alonso soaked up the pressure to record the third fastest time on his last run. It bumped Button to fourth and Mark Webber down to fifth, six tenths of a second slower than his team mate. It was a big game moment,
“I took it very calm, the last qualifying lap, I had to stay very calm” said Alonso. “Our main target is to do the best we can. Sometimes we can be on pole sometimes third. If our best is enough we will see tomorrow. I’m confident, I have been for the last five months.”
“It feels good, “said Vettel. “It was a tough qualifying session today. The conditions changed so much between the afternoon and evening. We knew it would be tricky. I did only one run of three laps, but it was enough.”
ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, Yas Marina Circuit, Qualifying