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Qualifying analysis - Webber left wounded and wondering 13 Nov 2010

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 12 November 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren in parc ferme. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 13 November 2010 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Practice Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Friday, 12 November 2010 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 13 November 2010 Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Renault R30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 13 November 2010

For the four remaining title contenders, qualifying for this weekend’s title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was a fraught affair. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was the quickest when it counted, taking pole position for the tenth time this season, but his team mate Mark Webber seemed to crumble under the pressure, managing just fifth on the grid. In between were the Red Bull duo's remaining championship rivals McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, as well as 2009 title holder Jenson Button in the second MP4-25. The scene is thus set for a storming race. We take a team-by-team look at qualifying…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 39.394s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 39.925s, P5

In this critical race, Vettel was delighted to take his 10th pole of the season after electing to do one, three-lap run in Q3. In retrospect he thought he might have been able to go a little quicker with a two-run strategy, but he was more than happy with the end result. Webber, by contrast, was left stunned as lack of grip in the second sector kept him six-tenths off his team mate’s best, whereas they had been separated only by three-tenths in Q1 and Q2. He finished the session mystified, and fully aware that he has a mountain to climb tomorrow.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 39.425s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 39.823s, P4

Hamilton said he was really happy with his MP4-25’s performance as he came so close to toppling Vettel. But he had a bit of a scare in Q2 when he was still not in the top 10 with only a couple of minutes to go after a kerfuffle with Massa when he inadvertently pulled into the Ferrari’s path in Turn 3 while resuming a run in which he’d backed off. He made it through in typical Hamilton style, and then got out everything his car had to give in Q3. Button was also much happier than he had been on Friday after significant set-up changes to his car. He also had a brake vibration problem in Q1, and admitted that he ran wide on his best lap in Q3.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 39.792s, P3
Felipe Massa, 1m 40.202s, P6

Alonso was very happy with third place, after Massa let him go ahead on their final runs and both just made it over the line before the chequered flag fell. The Spaniard jumped from fifth to third, ahead of Webber, on that lap, but Massa lost out in traffic as he was running with Rosberg’s Mercedes. Ferrari thus go into the race imbued with confidence, though outsiders wonder how reliable Alonso’s relatively tired engine might be over 55 laps.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 40.203s, P7
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 41.418s, P15

This time the roles were reversed, as Barrichello got the most out of the FW32 to qualify an excellent seventh after some serious re-thinking of his set-up overnight. Hulkenberg matched him in Q1 on the prime Bridgestones, but found the handling of his car deteriorated dramatically on the options in Q2 and could not thus repeat his Interlagos form.

Mercedes GP
Michael Schumacher, 1m 40.516s, P8
Nico Rosberg, 1m 40.589s, P9

Mercedes’ practice performance - especially Rosberg’s - heralded great things from qualifying. The young German was second in Q1 and third in Q2, but lost out big time in Q3. That was partly because his car didn’t like the Bridgestone option tyre as much as the prime, and because his last run was spoiled by having to run close with Alonso and Massa. Schumacher admitted that he just didn’t get his best lap together fully.

Renault
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 40.901s, P10
Robert Kubica, 1m 40.780s, P11

A surprise here, as Petrov beat Kubica through into Q3. The Russian looked hooked up all day and made it through with 10th place in Q2 as he gained confidence in the feel of the brakes. Kubica, however, couldn’t repeat Friday’s form and said that they simply didn’t get on top of his problems. These comprised oversteer, which made it hard to get on the power early enough.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 40.783s, P12
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 41.113s, P14

Kobayashi believed Q3 was possible for the C29 on the Yas Marina track, but a routine change of brake material led to problems with brake balance and performance all through qualifying. Heidfeld said he was fairly happy but that he could feel there was more grip to come from the tyres in Q2 that he didn’t manage to unlock.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 41.914s, P13
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 41.642s, P16

Sutil was happier with his car than he had been on Friday, Liuzzi wasn’t. The German said his VJM03’s balance was fine. Liuzzi said the same thing, but after yet more F-duct problems in FP3 he encountered erratic brake performance in qualifying as a result of a routine change of pads. He also said he lost three-tenths when he was blocked by Petrov on his best run in Q2,

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 41.738s, P17
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 41.824s, P18

Alguersuari said a change of set-up to low downforce made the third sector too difficult because of the resultant oversteer offsetting the enhanced straight-line speed, while Buemi said he lost time brushing the Turn 19 wall, and was ultimately bumped from Q2 by… his team mate.

Lotus
Jarno Trulli, 1m 43.516s, P19
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 43.712s, P20

No problems here for either driver, apart from some rear brake locking which Trulli reported.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 44.095s, P21
Lucas di Grassi, 1m 44.510s, P22

Glock said he was happy that he got the best out of the VR-01, while Di Grassi complained about traffic.

HRT
Bruno Senna, 1m 45.085s, P23
Christian Klien, 1m 25.296s, P24

Senna said he was happy with his best lap on the option tyre, but Klien said that although a change of brakes improved the performance of his F110 after FP3, he didn’t have time to build confidence in the revised set-up.

David Tremayne

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