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Qualifying analysis - Red Bull crack under Hamilton pressure 03 Nov 2012

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing following the back of the grid penalty ruling.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.ormula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Timo Glock (GER) Marussia F1 Team MR01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012 Narain Karthikeyan (IND) HRT Formula One Team HRT F112.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 3 November 2012

McLaren had Red Bull handled this time, at least courtesy of Lewis Hamilton, who was in charge throughout Saturday’s Abu Dhabi qualifying. The KERS problem yesterday on Mark Webber’s RB8 and the brake issue this afternoon for Vettel left Red Bull slightly on their back foot, and that became a disaster after Vettel’s car was found to have insufficient fuel and he was thus relegated to the back of the grid. Thus the dynamic of the title fight could change again dramatically tomorrow...

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 40.630s, P1
Jenson Button, 1m 41.290s, P6, will start P5

Hamilton dominated all three qualifying sessions to take a comfortable pole, his 25th for McLaren, and described his car as “beautiful” all weekend. But he said he was surprised it suited the circuit so well, since the team had not brought an upgrade to Abu Dhabi. Button said he shouldn’t have been so far back, but that he just couldn’t get his car to work at well as Hamilton’s when it mattered.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 40.978s, P2
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 41.073s, P3, will start P24

Webber got a decent lap right at the end of Q3, but said that McLaren were uncatchable and that his KERS problem yesterday had hurt his preparation slightly. Vettel said the same thing of his brake problem in FP3. Neither of them really looked like challenging McLaren, and Vettel admitted that pushing a little too hard on his last run compromised his chances of beating his team mate. Webber made it clear that he intends to drive flat out in the race - in other words he is unlikely to consider team orders to help Vettel. After Vettel was told to stop on the circuit on his slow-down lap, a stewards’ investigation revealed it had been under-fuelled and he was relegated to the back of the grid just as Hamilton was in Spain.

Williams
Pastor Maldonado, 1m 41.226s, P4, will start P3
Bruno Senna, 1m 42.330s, P15, will start P14

Maldonado rose magnificently to the occasion to get everything out of his Williams with an unexpected fourth-fastest lap, but Senna was very unhappy in Q1 and claimed that he was impeded by Perez. The stewards investigated the matter but only reprimanded the Mexican. Senna also said he had a few undisclosed problems that prevented him from getting the best from his FW34.

Lotus
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 41.260s, P5, will start P4
Romain Grosjean, 1m 41.778s, P10, will start P9

Contrasting feelings here. Raikkonen said his E20 hadn’t been great all weekend but that they had decided to leave the set-up as it was in India. Eventually the circuit came to them, and he found his car really strong in Q3. Grosjean, however, said his car felt good but then lost grip by Q3.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 41.582s, P7, will start P6
Felipe Massa, 1m 41.723s, P9, will start P8

Ferrari were deeply disappointed with seventh and ninth places, especially as rivals who were slower in India had moved ahead. Alonso said a place between fifth and eighth was what he had expected, while Massa said that his car developed too much oversteer in Q3. Their race pace is good, however, if they can move up early on.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 41.603s, P8, will start P7
Michael Schumacher, 1m 42.289s, P14, will start P13

Rosberg aimed for P8 so was happy with his qualifying session and changes to the WO3’s set-up. Schumacher said they changed the approach to Q2 with his car but that he didn’t make the best use of it in the first sector, which hurt his lap time.

Sauber
Sergio Perez, 1m 42.084s, P12, will start P11
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 42.606s, P16, will start P15

Perez was disappointed to find that his Sauber didn’t have the pace he expected to get into Q3, and was subsequently reprimanded for impeding Senna in Q1. Kobayashi said work on his car had slightly improved his balance problems but that locking front brakes contributed to a mistake he made on his last effort in Q2.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 42.019s, P11, will start P10
Paul di Resta, 1m 42.218s, P13, will start P12

Hulkenberg said he’d expected more from qualifying, but that his VJM05 lost pace as the temperatures dropped. Di Resta said he struggled to find a decent balance in his new chassis, but that he’ll play the long game in the race in the hope of scoring points.

Toro Rosso
Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 42.765s, P17, will start P16
Jean-Eric Vergne, 1m 44.058s, P18, will start P17

No major problems were reported here apart from the abiding lack of grip, though Vergne didn’t help his chances of making Q2 when he spun pushing too hard towards the end of Q1.

Caterham
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 44.956s, P19, will start P18
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 45.089s, P21, will start P20

Kovalainen said he was pretty happy with his best lap in Q1, but that he was robbed of pace by a fault in the DRS. Petrov said he was disappointed with his performance and that traffic hurt his best lap, but he’s optimistic that his CT01 felt better when the temperatures had dropped as they will for the race.

Marussia
Charles Pic, 1m 45.089s, P20, will start P19
Timo Glock, 1m 45.426s, P22, will start P21

Glock and Pic had their usual qualifying sessions, with the Frenchman edging his way ahead of the more experienced German, as well as splitting the Caterhams.

HRT
Pedro de la Rosa, 1m 45.766s, P23, will start P22
Narain Karthikeyan, 1m 46.382s, P24, will start P23

De la Rosa said he was happy with his car and the brake temperatures, after the concerns in India. Karthikeyan admitted that he struggled to learn this technical track but said that a combination of traffic and tyres which gave up before the end of the lap ruined his best effort in Q1.

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