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.
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.