Vettel digs deep to snatch pole for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from McLaren
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Nov 2011   |  3:34 pm GMT  |  136 comments

Sebastian Vettel staged a dramatic last minute smash and grab raid on McLaren with a stunning lap to take pole away from Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

It was Vettel’s 14th pole of the season, equalling Nigel Mansell’s record from 1992 and the 29th of his career.

McLaren had controlled the pace throughout the weekend, but in the final crucial phase they lost out to Vettel, who strung together a perfect lap, with a stronger Sector 1 and Sector 2. It seemed that the McLaren didn’t perform quite as well as the Red Bull when the temperature came down to 28 degrees. In Q2 Hamilton did a best time of 1m38.434s and if he had been able to repeat that in Q3 he would have had pole.

Once again Vettel has geared his car expecting pole position, as he did in Monza and a few other places. So he hits the rev limiter on the straights, but his acceleration out of corners is superior. It makes him vulnerable in the race if another car can get within 1 second of him for DRS activation, but he is confident that he can build a lead in the opening laps to stop that happening.

The final practice session before qualifying had shown that the fastest way to use the tyres was to do a quick lap followed by a slower lap and then push again. The third lap should be 2/10ths faster than the first one.

As the qualifying session started in fading light, the temperature had dropped by ten degrees, so everyone needed to locate the grip and find the fastest way to use the tyres.

They went for the first lap in the end, but the falling temperatures played their part.

“We all feel something (as it cools) you can be surprised either way.” said Vettel. “The front grip is affected, but it’s not the same for all cars, it wasn’t the case for me. As it gets cooler it gets quicker, but then after a break it is hard to read the trends.”

In Q1 Rubens Barrichello’s technical problems continued, sidelined by an engine failure on Friday and and oil leak on Saturday morning he didn’t even get to leave the pits and will start what many feel could be his penultimate Grand Prix in 24th place.

Dan Ricciardo got a career best 21st place ahead of Jerome D’Ambrosio and half a second clear of team mate Tonio Liuzzi. He knows this track well having done three days here last year in the Red Bull RB6 during the Young Guns test.

The second session was red flagged when Felipe Massa clouted a kerb very hard and dislodged a bollard, which lay in the middle of the track.

The cut off for the top ten shootout was predicted at 1m 40.5secs and Michael Schumacher was struggling to beat that.

But the Toro Rosso cars underperformed in qualifying with their upgraded car and ended up 13th and 15th. Also eliminated were Petrov, Senna, Kobayashi and Maldonado.

The Venezuelan takes a ten place grid penalty for having to take a ninth engine in the season, which means that the two Williams cars will start at the back of the grid, a very awkward result on a weekend when they are in the spotlight with negotiations with Qatar over a huge sponsorship and the possibility of Kimi Raikkonen coming back with the team.

In Q3 Hamilton controlled the pace, but his second run saw him fall into the clutches of team mate Button who set an almost identical lap time.

Vettel grabbed the initiative and took his 14th career pole.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, Yas Marina, Qualifying
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m38.481s
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m38.622s + 0.141
3. Jenson Button McLaren 1m38.631s + 0.150
4. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m38.858s + 0.377
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m39.058s + 0.577
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m39.695s + 1.214
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m39.773s + 1.292
8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m40.662s + 2.181
9. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m40.768s + 2.287
10. Paul di Resta Force India

11. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m40.874s + 2.440
12. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m40.919s + 2.485
13. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m41.009s + 2.575
14. Bruno Senna Renault 1m41.079s + 2.645
15. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m41.162s + 2.728
16. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m41.240s + 2.806
17. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m41.760s + 3.326

18. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m42.979s + 3.197
19. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m43.884s + 4.102
20. Timo Glock Virgin 1m44.515s + 4.733
21. Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1m44.641s + 4.859
22. Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1m44.699s + 4.917
23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT 1m45.159s + 5.377
24. Rubens Barrichello Williams no time

Featured Video
Behind the Scenes at the track
Behind the Scenes at the track
Featured News in ferrari
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

I haven’t checked in right here to get a whilst since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are fantastic quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend


That’s the problem when you get fans involved in designing. Honestly the Mclaren race suits looks really awful and very amateurish.

Hope race won’t be processional again.


James are you able to explain the difference in performance between the McLaren and the Redbull at the start of the race when the cars are full of fuel? – it seems when the two teams have been very close in quali come race start when loaded with fuel the Redbull is able to pull a gap everytime.


Interesting the comments about which car is faster!? The thing that needs to be understood is that even when McLaren get a nose in front, the Red Bull car remains the most agile relying less on out and out power but aerodynamic efficiency. The McLaren car is perhaps less so but has more power. I suspect it is set up that makes the difference.


14/16 > 15/18. So Mansell’s record is better even if Vettel takes pole in Brazil. 😛


Don’t forget, that season Mansell didn’t win a race he didn’t start from pole, and the last 6 races he started from pole 5 times and only won 1 race. It’s all relative.


What an exciting quali!

Hope its the same for the race!

Btw James, what’s this rumour about Kimi & Toro Rosso? lol.


Vettel has dominated this season but has he really matched Mansell’s record?, Mansell got 14 poles from 16 races(87.5%), Vettel has 14 from 18 (77.7%), even if he does get 15 poles from 19 races he is still only 79%, so does more opportunity really equal more skill? No slight on Vettel, more questioning how records are measured.


Well, The record is for most poles per season, not for pole percentage. Anyway, since F1 changes so much, there is no way to truly compare. And I think that Mansell’s car was far more dominant t that season and also that his teammate maybe weaker qualifier than Webber (Do you remember Webber was considered as a quali specialist before he got his current team-mate ?


The Bulls were provoking Lewis (Nicole) with the a loud “No woman no cry” Bob Marley song coming out of their pitstop. LOL! Anyways, why did Hamilton come out of his pitstop behind Jenson in Q3?


My predictions for the race are very simple: my man D’Ambrosio won’t score any points, Schum and Sutil will be out on the first lap. Liuzzi will finish behind Ricciardo but will blame it on the car (as usual). Hamilton won’t collide with Massa, whose front wing will end up in the Ferrari’s cockpit on lap 27, sector 1, 10th meter, forcing the Brazilian F1 megastar to retire.


If all of this comes true send me a ticket for el gordo.


I am pretty sure Vettel could have got the pole in a McLaren this time. MacLaren was the faster car today.


I wonder if Williams thought about putting Maldonado out only on the hard (medium) tyre, to leave him three sets of softs tomorrow.

Start on hards, pit after a lap, and then race on completely fresh rubber for the rest of the race. He’s at the back anyway, and the best Williams could have hoped for by getting him to qualify properly was a 22nd or 23rd instead of 24th.


I guess they can already try that with Rubens. I found it interesting that they pretended Rubens was going to do a lap in Q1 to make the other midfield teams waste a set of softs.


The RedBull always will be the car to have this year. If the Mclaren was faster they would be no reason Vettel is 1.5 TENTHS in front of two WDC caliber drivers. It’s common sense the RBR is fastest, and Webber is underdriving.


Must be why Lewis clocked the fastest lap of qualifying…


Slightly off-topic here – I’m not the worlds biggest Schumi fan, but I am getting tired of Coulthard and Brundle’s constant snide comments about his driving. It’s unnecessary and reeks of sour grapes.


They’re pretty fair. It’s probably an issue of expectation as much as anything. In his pomp he was from another planet.


They were very generous last race when he drove well. His racecraft is clearly still there, but his speed is still disappointing. Rosberg buries him in practice so often now that no-one remarks on it, which shows how much expectations have changed since he came back.


[mod]Like any driver, the duo praise him when he’s doing a good job. In Quali, he was doing a terrible job and was picked up on it


McLaren were quick on the medium tyre – if they can stay close, we could be on for a great finish. Here’s hoping.


Hi James,

I’m interested to know how teams can change the gear ratio of a car when the gearbox is not allowed to be tempered with ?


They can’t. The gear ratios have to be decided on Saturday before qualifying. After that it’s Parc Ferme conditions. So the decision has to be taken then


When Massa hit the bollard in Q2 leading to the red flag, the bollard and the base that it mounts to were already lying loose on the ground. Who dislodged them in the first place?


The Mclaren drivers didn’t do a great job today, one of them should have grabbed pole. This has happened a few times this season. If the Ferrari were on par with the Mclaren I think Alonso would be pushing Vettel harder than these two. I don’t think Seb will win this race.. Ill be happy if he doesn’t.


For me this doesn’t equal mansells record. 14 Poles out of 19 races isn’t as good as 14 out of 16. Should be done on percentage, as should the points scored ect. I think vettel now has more points scored than aryton senna. It makes a mockery of the stats and devalues the records set by past champions which are now being beaten unfairly.


Good point, but we all know you can’t really compare drivers of different eras by stats alone. I suspect that Nigel’s car was more clearly quicker than anything else in 92 than Seb’s RB is this year, although not by much.


Why is it that when you see all the flappy wings on the TV pictures that the FIA don’t jump in and say “you may have passed the tests but we can see the wing is moving so we are classing it as a fail and black flag it”


Because all wings move more or less. Where would you draw the line?


Further – It seems to still be a moveable aerodynamic device, and that is not supposed to be allowed. Yes, it’s NOT being manipulated by the driver, but is actuated by the speed the car is doing. I thought such “bendy” wings were outlawed years ago?


At “less”



I have thought about that from my arm chair also…


Vettels front wing looked like it was made from over cooked lasagne in one shot – both end plates were touching the ground…. Newey should get all the prizes this year


That would be far too sensible Dick!

Really though, why don’t they just remove the flex restrictions? It’s clearly not providing Massa with any advantage.


I feel the same way about those moving front wings – it’s cheating, really. The front wings should, in my mind, be completely rigid, under any load. Just because they have clever composite departments that have figured out a way to lay the weave down so the nose cone and wings can move about above the defined minimum loads, doesn’t make the teams using this technology real winners, in my mind. They really are “stretching” the rules way too much.


Would prefer to have a big old Marlboro logo on As has been mentioned, if it was rigid to high load it would fail. Some play is nescesary. You have to suspect if Massa’s butterfly wing was making him go faster they wouldn’t even think of taking it off.


A wing is always flexing even if it is 10x stronger. So there you are… when is it legal and when do you want to black flag ?

You need rules to handle that, if you pass those, you’re legal.


I think that was Vettel’s best pole of the season as it seemed throughout practice that the McL’s had it in the bag. I hope for the spectacle that he has set up too much for qualifying and it means we have a fun race with some intrigue longer than than the race to the first corner. Any chance the track temperature lowering during the race will lead to increased/decreased tyre degradation? Would throw a spanner in the works for the guys deciding strategy.


To be fair it wasn’t quite the first time. McLaren had the quali pace for pole too in Monaco, in Hungary… and a few other places

Degradation is generally related to heat (both from how much load you’re putting through the tyres by being fast, and also from ambient/track temperature) so deg in the race should be equal to quali (which most people don’t know anyways) but less than practice. Could cause problems for switching on the primes; though not sure on that


I am beginning ti think this RedBull car is only as good as it appears in Webber’s hands. Can we all for one moment imagine all Vettel’s achievements this Year have been because of some exceptional Driving and nothing to do with the car.

THis guy appears to have flicked a coin (still in the air) and left it in the laps of the gods.

I genuinely believe the McLaren is better than the RedBull but they just cannot get past Vettel.


Absolutely agreed with you. Absolutely agreed with you. There are some points in the season though when I don’t think you can doubt that the Red Bull was faster, but a lot of times, McLaren was faster (such as Spain race, Hungary qualifying, Monaco race and qualifying, etc) and didn’t capitalize


It is difficult to imagine any F1 driver, current or past, that could have had a better season than Vettel. Every aspect of his game has improved this year, and he must have a burning desire to win that belies both his age and superficial demeanor. His ardent critics are feasting on crow.


Sorry; I’m not familiar with the term. Feasting on crow?


“Eating crow” means having to admit being wrong after taking a strong stance. By saying feasting the other poster was bumping it up a notch.


I too, have wondered this. Very good point. Any thoughts James?


I think the tyres have a lot to do with it, getting them just right, especially in changing conditions like yesterday’s temperature drop. Webber told me after Q that it’s all about getting all the details right and Seb is just nailing it. Hamilton was fast enough for pole, but he left the door open for Vettel and he didn’t need asking twice


I’m confused as to why Hamilton didn’t get it done – as others have pointed out, Vettel’s pole time was slower than his Q2 time.

Why did McLaren send Button out first, and let Hamilton get bunched up behind Alonso?


3 seconds behind a driver is not bunched up, there is no negative effect and secondly, more importantly…Hamilton is driving, he could easuly back off before he starts his lap and have a 15 second gap.

He chose not to.


if you are less than 5 seconds behind a car you are affected by it’s turbulence

as hamilton said , just not his best lap ; I accept that he may be the most naturally talented driver with the potential to be one of the handful of all time greats , but he isn’t there yet …in any case being on pole is not the standard by which great drivers are measured , it’s being in front at the end ; the stupid regulations allowing such reliance on aero is what spoils F1 because it hampers the ability of the best drivers to overtake , negating their skill


In an image conscious sport don’t you think the McLaren looks absolutely fantastic under those lights?

I hope Lewis has a good race tomorrow, I hate to see a young man under so much pressure and apparently feeling the need to self analyse so openly in front of the world’s media.


The McLaren has always looked fantastic in Singapore as well as Abu Dhabi. Shame I still don’t like the U-sidepods aesthetic-wise though


excuse me, just this time i was hoping hoping that Seb has a problem.. Just this once he starts from the PIT LANE.

He enjoys the great challenge, and we enjoy watching him. Then he really is a great champion when he wins from the back.

At present he is the greatest qualifier, and with the fastest car he can usually translate that to a win.


Do you seriously think the driver you support will be able to pull off such a feat? Sebastian is already a great champion… he need not prove to individual whims to establish so 🙂

Ah’ I am not a Seb Fan here… I’m a Kimi fan and am hoping him to come back 🙂


Can you name other great Champions to win a race from the back of the grid? I can only think of Raikkonen at Suzuka ’05…. I hate when people act like Schumi, or Alonso have started at the back and won races… it is silly talk. Rarely does anyone win if not starting in the top 3 rows….


Barrichello won from the back in a rainy grand prix. Germany I think. Ciould be 03 or 04. Not a champion but a champion drive.

Or how about Button this year in Canada.


That would be 2000, his first win. He got a bit of help from a safety car, but then stayed out on slicks on a half-wet half-dry track.

Unless there’s another I’ve forgotten.

Didn’t the McLarens get a 1-2 from row 11 in one of the US GPs in the 80s?


Fangio won from 5th or 6th as lowest grid position, never from the back and he always had a much faster car then the competition wheh he won his titles…much faster relatively to the competition then what Vettel has now.

So I guess Fangio is not a great champion.

Just drop all that stuff, this guy is a living racing legend already.

If he would retire right now, he would have achieved more than 99% of all F1 drivers have.

Always whining he has the best car (hogwash as we saw today yet again), pretty much all the champions of the past had the best car too.


You can make your point about Vettel without talking nonsense about Fangio. By the end of 51, the Ferrari was faster than his Alfa ; in 54, the Maserati 250F, for the first part of the season, was more or less on a par with everything else, and then the Mercedes was faster, although not everywhere (at Silverstone it was rubbish). In 55 the Merc was the class of the field. In 56 the Ferrari was just about equal to Moss’s 250F but no more – JM won his title with a bit more reliability and some luck. In 57 the 250F was quickest at the beginning of the season, but by the end the Vanwall was easily faster and Ferrari had caught up. In all these years JM was clearly ahead of anyone else in the same car, except perhaps in 55.

What’s more, when people were dying every month, he could go fast enough to win, with enough in reserve to survive.

I do agree with you about Vettel. The way he’s raised his game this year is extraordinary.


sorry you misunderstand my comment. I am not saying Vettel is not good, just that to be a great champion youn have to be a great all rounder and Seb has not been given the chance to proove that yet, that is all

think of Schumacher coming through the field, of Alonso, Hamilton, Kimi, and Hakkinen even. I would love to see Seb do that.


The voice of reason.

Welll Said, Too many posters try to devalue the achievments of Vettell.

For me, I’d like to see a McLaren driver doing the the same as Vettell, instead I have to admire the guys talent and hope that Hamilton or Button will be given a car and opportunity to do the same.


Vettel did very well to grab pole, but I think Hamilton’s second run in Q3 was not exceptional which allowed Button to get closer and Vettel to get in front. Hamilton’s Q2 run was much better. Hamilton still thinks there is something Red Bull switch on in the final Q3 run. Are you able to find out what that may be James? If extant I expect it may be an engine mode designed to work in conjunction with the diffuser. If so it will be gone next year!


He just holds a bit in reserve in terms of pace. Plus the fact he can extract a bit more than the car is capable of and you’ve got an instant ‘switch’ he can turn on. I hope to god the top 3 teams are close next year. World champions all over the place.


Vettel magic


If anything it would only be turning up power. The maps that affect the diffuser can’t be changed since Q1 (i.e. if it was on in Q3, it would already be on in Q1)


Yes the thing the Redbull guys switch on is not in their control, it’s called Vettel’s talent.


Actually I think other factors played a part here. Vettel had clean air to do his final Q3 run whereas Hamilton’s was to some degree hampered in traffic.


I know its called the Vettel button.

Top Tags
SEARCH Scuderia Ferrari