Confident Hamilton on pole in Abu Dhabi, as Bulls and Alonso hit problems
McLaren
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Nov 2012   |  3:23 pm GMT  |  143 comments

Lewis Hamilton has started on the front row of the grid for all of the Abu Dhabi Grands Prix to date and tomorrow he starts from pole position ahead of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, while championship contender Fernando Alonso slipped back to 7th place, a disaster for his hopes of gaining ground on Vettel in the title race.

It was Hamilton’s sixth pole of the season and the 25th of his career. He was on swashbuckling form, showing the speed that McLaren are likely to miss next season when he joins Mercedes. Team mate Jenson Button was 6/10ths slower in sixth place in what is clearly a very strong McLaren car on this circuit. A 21st GP win for Hamilton tomorrow will take him past Mika Hakkinen in the all time winners list.

Interestingly the pole time was almost two seconds slower than last season, showing the effect of the exhaust blown diffuser on this track last season.

It was a good recovery after the underperformance of the McLaren team since the Singapore Grand Prix.

“I’m very excited, the first time for a long time to be ahead of the Bulls,” said Hamilton. “But I know it will be tough in the race. These guys are always quick on the first few laps. I hope we are strong enough to fight them, The car feels beautiful here, it just suits the track.”

Vettel was dramatically told to stop the car on his slow down lap after qualifying. It was something Renault asked them to do, according to the team.

It wasn’t a great day for the Red Bulls, which juggled a number of setbacks, but seeing Alonso so far back on the grid will be a significant consolation.

The track temperature dropped by 11 degrees between Free Practice 3 and the start of qualifying.

In Q1, held in fading light, the lap times were faster than in the practice session, with Hamilton setting the fastest time, ahead of Rosberg, who used the soft tyre to set the time.

Sebastian Vettel came into qualifying on the back foot after losing time in FP3 with brake issues. It wasn’t smooth running for him in qualifying either as he touched a wall early on in Q1. He ended Q1 7/10ths of a second slower than Hamilton on the medium tyre. The McLarens once again seemed to be working better on the harder tyre.

Jean-Eric Vergne was eliminated again after he spun in the final corners of his hot lap. Despite his contract renewal he is still struggling with qualifying.

In Q2 as the floodlights came on stronger, everyone went across to the soft tyre. Vettel played himself in slowly and found 4/10ths of a second improvement over his medium tyre time, double the gain Hamilton found on his first lap. Hamilton improved on his second flying lap to edge out Webber by 3/10ths.

Hamilton again was fastest, with Webber and Vettel behind, while Button was struggling on the soft Pirelli tyre in 9th place. Alonso was in the hunt, just a tenth slower than Vettel.

A great lap by Rosberg at the end of Q2 took him into 7th place bumping Hulkenberg out of the top ten.

Into the final Q3 session, after the first runs Hamilton started to stretch his legs, almost half a second faster than Vettel after the first run. Webber was third, Alonso fourth and Rosberg fifth.


Maldonado did a stunning final lap a 1m 41.226 which took him to fourth ahead of Alonso and Webber. It was Maldonado at his breathtaking best, similar to the performance he put in during qualifying in Singapore.

Raikkonen also improved to move ahead of Alonso, who had a poor final run and was unable to improve, he slipped to 7th place, crucially behind Maldonado, Raikkonen and Button, with Yas Marina circuit so hard to pass on, he will have a mountain to climb in the race.

“We did the maximum. I did 1, 41.5 in Q2 and Q3, that’s the maximum from the car,” said Alonso.

The race strategy for tomorrow is not clear yet, with one stop and two stops both options. The track surface is a little more abrasive than India, so it could be finely balanced and it all adds to the drama ahead of this vital race.

The drivers’ championship cannot be sealed on Sunday, but Red Bull can win the Constructor’s title tomorrow. To do so they need to be at least 86 points ahead of Ferrari after the race, five less than they have in hand tonight. Red Bull Racing would become the first F1 constructor ever to win its first three constructors’ titles in consecutive seasons.

ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX, Yas Marina Circuit, Qualifying
1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m40.630s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m40.978s + 0.348
3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m41.073s + 0.443
4. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m41.226s + 0.596
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m41.260s + 0.630
6. Jenson Button McLaren 1m41.290s + 0.660
7. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m41.582s + 0.952
8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m41.603s + 0.973
9. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m41.723s + 1.093
10. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m41.778s + 1.148

11. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m42.019s + 1.118
12. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m42.084s + 1.183
13. Paul di Resta Force India 1m42.218s + 1.317
14. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m42.289s + 1.388
15. Bruno Senna Williams 1m42.330s + 1.429
16. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m42.606s + 1.705
17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m42.765s + 1.864

18. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m44.058s + 2.561
19. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m44.956s + 3.459
20. Charles Pic Marussia 1m45.089s + 3.592
21. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m45.151s + 3.654
22. Timo Glock Marussia 1m45.426s + 3.929
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m45.766s + 4.269
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT 1m46.382s + 4.885

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1

mclaren tried to use hamilton’s 2011 performance (which they may have controlled knowing his contract was due for renewal in 2012) to have an upper hand over hamilton during the contract negociation and lost.

he may not win this year’s championship but brand hamilton is too harge for anything to affect it’s value.

2

Would have loved this grid in 2010

3

Not all doom and gloom for Alonso. If he has good race pace, which is to be anticipated, he should be able to overtake the cars in front of him, as he is faster than them all in the speed trap. Well, excluding the Reverend that is!

http://www.formula1.com/results/season/2012/881/7178/speed_trap.html

4

James, I agree that the lap times are affected by the lack of double diffuser this year.

I am surprised ,though ,that you failed to mention the much higher kerbs this year which have obviously , to me , had a detrimental effect on lap times.

5

Reckon all the doubters should take note…….LH given the rightcar is unbeatable. If I was team principle of Maclaren I would be worried, this is a concern to the team. JB is not slow but unless it rains tomoz how on earth is Button going to win or get on the podium.

6

JB benefitted big time last year by the field being so stretched out. He could have an off day and still start 5th or 6th. This year with the field bunched, an off day means no Q3 for him, and his normal quali gap to Lewis this year has translated into a lot lower grid slots compared to last year.

7

Yes, how on earth will he?

After all, he is a whole 2 places away from the podium!!

He may as well just give up now!

Oh, no hang on a minute, it’s the other McLaren driver who gets on the radio saying they should quit, isn’t it?

8

@Richardc. “LH given the right car is unbeatable”. Yeah, same for Vettel. But no doubt, Hamilton’s expected, pole to race win, will be the work of a genius.

9

I’m sorry but what’s with all this talk about vettel not getting a penalty if there is enough fuel left? Surely this most be wrong.

Cars have to get back under their own power. If he stopped because of fuel he should get a penalty for underfueling even if they can get enough from car. Obviously he would be gaining time for not having to carry outlap fuel.

And no there is no way you can say that by calculating the amount of fuel left he could have made it back and provide enough fuel for the sample as .there are too many variables for a 100% accurate calculation.

Stopped on track because of fuel? Penalty.

10

Yes! We are having a race!! Hamilton has nothing to lose and Vettel can prove his greatness (if his alternator doesn’t fail). Throw Maldonado in the mix and the end result will be completely random.

I predict at least one team to be very upset at the end of the race. This could be Valencia all over. Gentlemen, Start your engines …

11

mate of mine in Milton Keynes says fuel http://wp.me/p2HWOP-ky

12

He was right!

13

When Hamilton is on pole its because he was brilliant, when Vettel its the car.

14

@ Peter

Hamilton did a incredible job today to get P1 Mclaren were not too fast for RBR maybe for other teams.

Vettel gets P1 when he has machinery advantage

Well done lewis for P1 and kicking RBR (vettel)out of their comfort zone.

Oh god i had plenty of chuckle when i have seen sulky face of vettel

15

Here’s a better explanation of why it was brilliant: there were only 3 instances in qualifying where a driver beat his teammates best time in a sector by 0.5 secs … Hamilton over Button in S3, Ricciardo over Vergne in S3, and Maldonado over Senna in S2. Each of those drivers had brilliant qualifying sessions.

Vergne for me has been a big disappointment, especially with all the hype that surrounded him last year after the Young Drivers Test. DR has pnwed him in quali this year, JEV just ain’t quick.

As for Senna, if he’s on the grid next year, it’s all down to the sponsorship money he brings.

16

Lewis’ poles in AUS and MAL were not as brilliant as his pole today, b/c JB was right with him then as the car was the best in quali trim then. His pole in SIN and KOR last year were outperforming the car as well. JB was happy with the car after FP2, yet still was beaten by six-tenth’s.

17

Are you denying it was a brilliant lap?

18

When Hamilton puts it on pole, it is often by a large margin, yet the others are within 0.5 back to twelfth. SV has done a great job of maximizing the best.car, Lewis continually shows why he is the class of the field.

19

According to whom?

20

Swashbuckling James ?

Boy the british love affair continues

21

It looks like there is a chance that Vettel is going to be sent back as was Hamilton in Spain. Same situation.

22

It was good to see Hamilton with a spring in his step after setting the pole lap. There seems to have been a thawing of relations between him and the rest of McLaren (Jenson’s comments before the race, Lewis dedicating the pole lap to the team). Hopefully they’ll get at least one more win to celebrate the end of one of the best driver/car partnerships in modern times.

23

James why dont u describe lewis’s drive as brilliant (as the bbc website does) or dominant (your description of vettels indian gp lap)? Swashbuckling sounds like a reckless or care fref drive, not the dominant masterclass he gave.

24

I, too, was taken aback by the use of the word ‘swashbuckling’ until ‘romantic’ images of heroism came to mind. So much so that I took the opportunity to look it up in a dictionary to appreciate why you would conjure up such a word.

Barry, here’s how the entry is explained:

“behaving in a brave and exciting way, especially like a fighter in the past”.

My dictionary also places the word in context, within a sentence to emphasise confidence.

So well done to James, what excellent word usage so much better that ‘brilliant’.

Now, how many other journalist, columnists. bloggers etc will adopt this word not only to describe Lewis on track but other drivers – Fernando, I suspect, especially if he is able to pull off something more extraordinary, than he has managed to do all season, tomorrow in order to keep his WDC live.

25

Also brilliant can be associated with giving off light. Apart from the the brakes, the cars aren’t hot enough for that…

26

And, ‘swashbuckling’ could be considered offensive to pirates. It’s insensitive.

27

Once again the Ferrari drivers underperformed. The Ferrari were confident of a second row and then the drivers blew it in Q3. It is a shame when the drivers says they got the maximum from the car when clearly the Q1 and Q2 results says otherwise.

Webber’s second place shows that the team has given both drivers equal cars. Sad to note that Massa is missing some new parts – again.

Good job by Pastor and Kimi. Hope they don’t lose ground at the start.

Lewis will win and by the look of it, Red Bulls are in trouble … not the Ferraris. I have a feeling Vettel will be penalised.

28

I still remember Horner taking Webber’s wing and giving it to Vettel. No doubt Vettel’s KERS gets the thrice-over, where Webber’s gets a quick once-over. Webber’s results since he re-signed were very poor ’till the RB8’s general upturn.

29

I agree. Alonso (also Grosjean) didn’t improve in Q3 as all the others did. Massa improved one tenth.

30

Rob newman

How on earth you know ferrari drivers under performed ?

What did Q1 and Q2 results show you ?

Ferrari are struggling from friday with updates in F2012

The updates which ferrari are bringing in have no quality and lap time what so ever

You are leading alonso bashing here quite well

Get real and accept the fact RBR and mclaren were simply too quick for ferrari

Why massa should receive updates ? who is he ?

Massa is simply driving for his seat, whereas alonso is fighting for championship hope this clears you as to who should receive updates and who should simply drive to improve his on track performance

31

According to Alonso, he did approximately the same time three times in Q2 and Q3. It looks that really was the max.

Luckily Vettel was disqualified. Sixth on the grid doesn’t look all that bad for Alonso now 🙂

32

Rob’s one of the lead Alonso detractors on this site. We’re just giving him oxygen. Formula 1 engineers who rate Alonso extremely highly with the data they have access to are just wrong. Rob is like a climate change denier.

33

Sure, indeed Alonso has been underperforming the entire season. Get a grip mate.

34

I love McLaren drivers´s excuses when something goes wrong:

LEWIS: I was slow.

BUTTON: “Lots. Understeer on turn-in. Traction very poor. Locking up fronts and rears. So there’s lots that wasn’t working.”

35

HAHA

You think Hamilton is just being modest??

LOL

More like he was slow but he doesn’t know why.

He’s not too bright but he can drive pretty fast.

36

He’s not too bright? Are you by any chance his professor at university?

37
Mike from Colombia

No – just someone who maturely reinforces his statements with hahaha all the time.

38
Mike from Colombia

No need for Button to comment. Whitmarsh and 90% of the other journalist will find the excuses for him.

39

So that would be feedback to the engineers then.

40

Okay so if vettel ran out of fuel – massive penalty, if his gear box blows up – massive penalty, if his engine exploded – no worries, just change it in parc ferme.

Hardly seems consistent or fair to Vettel or his opponents.

41

If there is a penalty for Vettel as a result of a lack of fuel, will he go to the very back of the grid? Isn’t that what happened with Hamilton in Spain?

I’m hoping this happens for the sake of the championship. It would make things really interesting indeed.

42

Upon taking the time to read previous comments, my question has been answered.

43

Is it weird that Alonso is happy with the results of the qualifying session? Don’t think so – just look who Vettel will be next to at the start. I do really hope for a fun race!

44
Mike from Colombia

Shame that we did not see Vettel go to the back of the grid to help ensure that the championship goes down to the wire.

Given the incredible display of speed today, McLaren must feel like fools for not having built the team more around Hamilton and making him a better offer (not just financially) and getting him to stay.

You will not see these types of performances from Button or Perez next year, and the team will suffer as a consequence. Where will be the flashes of brilliance within the team? Tyre nursing? Most likely to see solid 3rd row qualifying and quite a few podiums but nothing that will make your hair stand on end.

It seems that the team is content on coming 2nd or 3rd each year in either the WDC or WCC, and that its company ethos of identical treatment is more importance than being outright winners. This also shows in their road cars, where the MP4-12C is a very neat and competent road car, but lacks the flair, edginess and thrill of the 458 Italia.

Too much wasted talent has slipped through McLaren’s hand and with little to show for it….Raikkonen, Montoya, Alonso, Hamilton. The teams seems to be content to be there or thereabouts…but not at the edge taking risks and going for glory.

45

“…You will not see these types of performances from Button or Perez next year…”

Right, as opposed to Button in Spa this year where he out qualified Hamilton by 3 tenths more that Hamilton out qualified him today.

Yes, McLaren made a MASSIVE mistake getting rid of Hamilton, cause he really has delivered the last few years.

2009 – 5th

2010 – 4th

2011 – 5th

2012 – 5th (possibly 4th at end of year)

Truly the greatest driver on the grid!

HAHAHA!

46
Mike from Colombia

Your stats have exactly backed up what my point was. McLaren has wasted their opportunity and not exploited Hamilton’s (or any of the above mentioned drivers) properly.

47

Sadly, I agree 100%.

48

the fia place the cars in parc ferme where the teams are unable to touch or alter the cars. The fia check the cars data and measure the amount of fuel left in the car. So if they tell a little lie about a problem the fia will know about it.

49

I seem to remember when Lewis had his “problem” something about the car having to make it to the pit lane under its own power. Surely it is the same for Vettel? Or does this specifically apply to fuel?

Maldonado had a great run, hopefully he will keep it clean at the start, he is right in the thick of it.

It will be a shame for Vettel if he is penalised but it will make the championship more interesting.

50

who says RBR will be champions if they are 86 points ahead of ferrari…they may be less than that ahead of McLaren

51

Hello James, wonder if you could answer this for me… I’ve noticed Sebestian’s been dominating the whole weekend, quicker than his teammate but in Korea, India and again here in Abu Dhabi, he’s simply dropped his pace in Q3, yeah he got pole in India but probably because Webber was unlucky with that mistake.

Is there any explanation to this. It’s surprising he’s simply not finding that form/speed in Q3, he’s not far away but not that dominant Seb we know.

52

I believe it is more Webber than Vettel. Webber has found confidence in the car and tyres now for one lap, but has been unable to match Vettel over a race across the season.

Webber has generally been relatively poor at Abu Dhabi, like Singapore, relative to Vettel. So it could be that Vettel has slipped at this race, or Webber found something at this track.

53

Yet, he won in Korea and India

54

yeah but i’m talking mainly about saturday

55

I did not understand what problems did Alonso hit? The fact that the car is slow or something else?

56

7th on the grid is a pretty big problem

57

Yes james very big problem and very disappointing

Alex D you are spot on mate

Ferrari are simply too slow. Alonso was pretty accurate 1:41:5 is the optimum lap time ferrari is capable of

Ferrari were simply fiddling with updates in F2012 and lost their way

Seems like vettel will have no trouble in finishing ahead of alonso and extend the points lead

Ferrari cannot improve the car anymore as they have trouble with updates and wind tunnel

I feel too disgruntled for alonso. He has been fantastic all season long. Yet nothing is breaking vettel’s march towards 2012 WDC

I do expect another mega race from alonso tomorrow.

58

Oh yes, wind tunnel.

59

Lewis was just brilliant! Simply amazing!

As for Jenson, I really feel for him next year. Martin Whitmarsh actually commented that Lewis pace was intimidating to Jenson. Thats not the sort of thing a manager should say. I can easily imagine the press picking up on that poor choice of words.

60

Did he really say that? What a sh*t.

61

I agree, he should have said that Lewis was under no pressure or that the car suits his style.

Then again, maybe JB responds well to criticism…

62

I have a question!

What makes one driver in a team (with identical setup) faster than the another?

Is it mainly down to late braking, yes?

63

Hi Goferet,

In circuit racing, the braking phase to the apex of the corner is where the majority of the time is made. The maximum possible braking force is determined by the load on the tyres, which primarily comes from the aerodynamics, which reduces as the car slows. So the driver has to reduce the brake pressure progressively to stop the tyres locking.

The total force a tyre can generate is the sum of the braking, accelerating and cornering forces. This sum is pretty much constant, so as a driver starts to turn the car, the driver has to come off the brakes even more.

If the car is going over bumps then the wheels are temporarily off the ground or less loaded and the brakes will lock. Softer springs help, but then the car’s aerodynamicas are affected more. The excessive nose down attitude into a corner under heavy braking will reduce the aerodynamic performance – you may have come across the term pitch sensitivity.

As a car is braking and turning into a corner the usual tendency is for it to understeer as excess weight is on the front tyres. Braking with the outside tyres on painted kerbs, or rearward brake bias adjustment can promote some turn-in oversteer to counteract this.

There is a theoretical perfect line to take, but the cars are not perfect. I believe what Lewis is doing is sacrificing a little in the mid-corner phase to get the back of the car settled early, to then allow early application of the throttle. In effect he is rotating the car earlier than Button. By having good feel under braking and a smooth track he is able to achieve the turn in performance that he wants, sacrifices a little with an early apex to get the weight on the rear tyres early and then gets a good exit.

Drivers will take varying lines for all sorts of reasons: small errors, driving skills and talents.

64

Don’t forget about the body weight of the driver: Webber is tall & “heavy” while Vettel is small & light.

65

Identical setup doesn’t always equate to tge same driving style. Confidence and having a knack for a certain track helps too.

66

Yes. And hitting all the apices (apexes) more consistently. Getting the power down out of a corner as soon as possible without wheelspin. KERS application. DRS application. It pays to remember that no 2 humans are exactly equal either. Nor are the machines.

67

You are kidding, right?

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