Hamilton in a class of his own at Abu Dhabi
Hamilton in a class of his own at Abu Dhabi
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Oct 2009   |  3:18 pm GMT  |  34 comments

Lewis Hamilton took a dominant pole position for the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the McLaren, beating the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel by an enormous 7/10ths of a second. It is Hamilton’s third pole position in the final five races of the season. Mark Webber was third, ahead of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button.

Picture 49
Hamilton has been the man to beat this weekend, topping most of the session times. It is in the middle sector with its two long straights that the McLaren was untouchable, setting a sector time some 7/10ths of a second faster than his opponents. KERS accounts for 4/10ths of that, according to engineers, but Hamilton seems to have mastered the corners linking them.

Button was fastest after the first run in Q3, but was beaten by Jarno Trulli and Rubens Barrichello. Hamilton made a mistake on his first lap, but made up for it on his second with provisional pole time. It looked an effortless lap, his car working perfectly here as it has all weekend.

It was a breathless final few moments of the session; the Red Bulls came alive in Q3 with race fuel on board and were fastest in sector one, with the three fast corners. Webber popped up with fastest time, then Vettel took it, but Hamilton had a few corners left and managed to take his fourth pole position of the season. In the end the margin was enormous.

“It’s never easy but it was as fun as it looked, ” said Hamilton “The car is the best it’s been all year and it’s very comfortable on this circuit. That lap could have been better, maybe we should have gone longer (on fuel).”

McLaren team mate Heikki Kovalainen was eliminated in Q2 due to a gearbox problem, while both Ferraris were off the pace today, Kimi Raikkonen was 11th and Giancarlo Fischella in 20th and last place.

What was interesting was the way the grip went away as the track temperature dropped down to around 31 degrees once it went dark. Finding the right combination of tyres and laps was the key.

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If Hamilton was able to do this, imagine what Montoya, F1’s strongest driver and greatest qualifier since Senna would have been able to do?

With Clueless Ron Dennis now not running the F1 team, it is time for Martin Whitmarsh to buy out Montoya’s Nascar contract and bring the Sexy Lord of Motorsport back into F1.


I’m a big fan of Montoya, but Raikkonen completely annihilated Montoya for two seasons in a row.

Montoya was a lot of fun to watch, but he really wasn’t WDC material.


Lets hope that Montoya will return, but not in Mclaren please:)


Having got into the NASCAR Chase this year, I can’t see Montoya giving that up any time soon. With the right car, he could be challenging for the title next year and with few top draw F1 drives open, would he risk that to troll around in the mid-field?


Is that you, Mrs Montoya?!


Hamilton is starting to look a class apart, not just at Abu Dhabi, but from the rest of the field full stop.

Paige Michael-Shetley

Hamilton really is in a class of his own this weekend. According to BBC’s fuel-adjusted qualifying figures, Hamilton is a half-second ahead of Vettel. The MP4-24 is very well-suited for Abu Dhabi, but “half-a-second” well suited?While his teammate struggled to get into Q2?

Hamilton seems to be the man you want for technical driving circuits.


The car suits the slow corners and long straights, but he is doing a lot with it


The McLaren advantage appears considerable here, which must be far more significant that simply KERS, even accepting the biggest differential being sector 2; otherwise Ferrari would have been more competitive.


I´m not surprised with hamilton´s dominance he looked great already yesterday. The Mclaren seems to be the car that makes the tyres work better.

James why everyboby was so keen on criticise Badoer and now nobody even care on Fisichella poor Showing?


Well the gaps have been smaller, although it was a second yesterday, so getting on for Badoer levels.

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Hamilton seems to have overcome his early season frustration and instead of throwing in the towel and thinking about 2010 he has upped his determination.

I believe that Hamilton is the only driver besides Michael Schumacher in the last 18 years to have won at least one race every season. This will probably continue.

Separate question James, where is BMW’s F1 engine effort based? Just thinking about how McLaren would coordinate with their possible new engine department.


F1 in HD would be stunning (particularly this weekend!) – do we think Bernie is going to sort this out?


Fuel adjusted, Hamilton looks in a class of one.

By the way James, wasn’t this race meant to be broadcast in HD? Do you have any news of when F1 will broadcast in HD?

Over here in N America we’ve had Nascar in HD for a few years – boring as hell, but it looks great! F1 would benefit from it greatly, particularly at places like Abu Dhabi.


Hi James,

I have just read that Heikki is alleging unfair treatment at McLaren. Any insights on this ?



No. Can’t see why he would say that. Will listen out.


I think it’s a clear statement that he wont be retained by McLaren and he’s obviously trying to boast his stock’s with excuses regarding his poor results.

Mclaren are certainly looking strong for next year, if it is a real option and I were Button I would go there, even if it means going up against LH. Brawn dont appear to have resolved the tyre temp issues they’ve suffered from this season.

Romain from Grenoble

Kovalainen comments, as reported by espn : http://en.f1-live.com/f1/en/headlines/news/detail/091030210831.shtml . I agree with this reporter that this (alleged) behavior from McLaren is not very surprising. Great blog James.


I haven’t looked at the odds but they must be short on Lewis for the win.


James, we now have the weights, but can you please enlighten us as to what lap this signifies that they pit, as I know there are differing fuel consumptions between teams.

Hamilton has looked uncatchable all weekend, I think he is going to dominate tomorrow, let alone 2010.


Hamilton will pit lap 17, Vettel 19. I agree Hamilton is in a class of one


I wonder in all the planning by Mercedes to throw their hand in with in-form Brawn and to ditch McLaren, they have fully recognised what an asset they would be losing in Lewis Hamilton? With the right car he clearly has the ability to run rampant in F1 and to amass a Schumacher-threatening tally of WDC crowns.


By the time the Mercedes deal with Brawn reaches full fruition, Brawn may well be able to sign Hamilton.


Rubens won the quali head-to-head 10-7 this year after being 6-1 down. When’s the last time the champ was out-qualified?

Paige Michael-Shetley

Prost in 89 is my best bet. Senna destroyed him in qualifying that year.

Button was faster than Barrichello in Q1 and Q2, and indeed over the whole weekend. Barrichello looks like he’s a lap lighter than Button, so fuel-corrected, Button looks to be on his pace. I’ll bet Button will get him on his overlap.




I think Kimi Raikkonen in 2007.


Great point. Thanks.


A very well deserved poll. he really was on the money on every practice run and in qualifying. Just hope we get an exciting race tomorrow. Mind you if practice and qualifying are anything to go by I think we will be ok.


If McLaren can carry this sort of form over the winter into the next season, which I am sure they will, we will witness Lewis absolutely dominate others. He will be lapping everybody apart from his team mate race after race.

Renault is in a bad shape which is bad news for Kubica. Let us hope they can sort it out somehow.


I’m in the process of winning a 3 part bet.

I predicted (and I use the term loosely) Hamilton would,

#1.Be the first to crack 1.40(estimated lap time pre practice)

#2.Get Pole


2 down, 1 to go.

Lewis has a knack for new circuits, and he’ll win this regardless of fuel stategy.

…so there’s my bellybutton…I mean opinion.


Q3 with desiel fuel.


Unlucky, Ray. How much did you stand to win?


I don’t want to talk about it:(

The only reason Lewis had a problem was because I posted my big mouth off on James Allens Website.

Seriously, After the first lap I was quietly thinking UH OH! why isn’t he pulling a gap.

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