Qualifying analysis - can McLaren take the bull by the horns? 12 Nov 2011
As hes done 13 times previously this season, Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel took the top grid slot during qualifying for Sundays Abu Dhabi race. But up until Q3 McLaren had ruled the roost and from second and third Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could well spring a surprise. We take a team-by-team look at how all the runners performed
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 38.481s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 38.858s, P4
Vettel said he hadnt really been happy with his RB7 until Q2, which was the first time he really got close to Hamilton. Everything came together perfectly on his second run in Q3 to earn him a 14th seasonal pole, which equalled Nigel Mansells long-standing record from 1992. Webber said his last run was a bit scrappy, which was why it failed to improve on his first one. He said that he felt that there was more to come from his car, and that this was not one of those occasions when he felt that his team mate had been beyond reach.
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 38.622s, P2
Jenson Button, 1m 38.631s, P3
Hamilton said he wasnt surprised that Vettel ultimately found the pace he did. He added his McLaren had been great right up until Q2 when it first began to understeer as it reached its ultimate limit, and that neither of his Q3 runs had been anything special. Button said hed been chasing a nervous rear end all weekend but that the understeer he also encountered in Q3 helped to rebalance the car by reducing its front-end effectiveness. Both go into the race knowing they have to make great starts if they are to beat Vettel, and on top of that Button doesnt expect DRS to be very effective here.
Fernando Alonso, 1m 39.058s, P5
Felipe Massa, 1m 39.695s, P6
Alonso said there were no surprises and that he was pretty much where hed expected to be. For the eighth time in 18 races he was fifth on the grid. Massa caused Q2 to be red flagged temporarily after dislodging a chicane kerb marker and its mounting, then struggled to get the best out of his tyres on his first flying lap. Later he rued not making a longer run. He also felt he lost some of the pace he showed in India after Ferraris decision to revert him to the old front wing.
Nico Rosberg, 1m 39.773s, P7
Michael Schumacher, 1m 40.662s, P8
After trying the prime Pirellis on his first run in Q3, Rosberg switched quickly to the options but then encountered traffic which hampered his second run. Schumacher just made it through Q1 after opting to save tyres and thinks hes in good shape on the rubber front for the race.
Adrian Sutil, 1m 40.768s, P9
Paul di Resta, No time, P10
Sutil and Di Resta scrapped mano a mano all the way through qualifying and proved very evenly matched. Sutil waited to see what Mercedes did in Q3 before finally deciding to venture out. Di Resta stayed in the pits, preferring to conserve rubber and give himself the optimum chance of defending the teams sixth place overall by scoring good points come the race.
Sergio Perez 1m 40.874s, P11
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 41.240s, P16
Both drivers were disappointed when their new tyres in Q2 did not enable them to go as quickly as they had on the tyres theyd already used in Q1, but they are quite confident of strong race performances.
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 40.919s, P12
Bruno Senna, 1m 41.079s, P14
After yesterdays steering and electronic problems, Petrov was relieved to get the best from his R31, while Senna admitted to a small error on his best lap that made the difference between his lap time and his team mates.
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 41.009s, P13
Jaime Alguersuari, 1m 41.162s, P15
Toro Rosso lacked pace relative to its recent outings, on a slower track less well suited to the STR06, but neither driver was too concerned as they tend to race better than they qualify and 13th and 15th places werent the end of the world.
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 41.760s, P17, will start P24
Rubens Barrichello, No time, will start P23
Maldonado couldnt get his Williams fully balanced and dropped from 17th to 23rd once his 10-place grid penalty for using a ninth engine was applied. Barrichello never got out at all as an oil leak from FP3 could not be rectified in time, and thus the duo start from the back of the grid.
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 42.979s, P18, will start P17
Jarno Trulli, 1m 43.884s, P19, will start P18
Kovalainen yet again got everything that the T128 had to offer, but Trullis qualifying was inevitably compromised when he lost FP3 because of a gearbox problem.
Timo Glock, 1m 44.515s, P20, will start P19
Jerome D'Ambrosio, 1m 44.699s, P22, will start P21
Glock struggled with brake problems in the morning which got worse in the afternoon as his MVR-02 lacked stability, but said that his best qualifying lap was a good one devoid of mistakes. DAmbrosio didnt get a perfect lap.
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 44.641s, P21, will start P20
Vitantonio Liuzzi, 1m 45.159s, P23, will start P22
Ricciardo was gratified to find his car behaving well after earlier reservations, and that without the need to pass Glock in the second sector of his fast lap he might have been able to beat the Virgin. Liuzzis luck did not hold after strong showings in practice, as a broken suspension mounting gave his F111 a mind of its own.
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