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Qualifying - Vettel takes record-equalling pole in Abu Dhabi 12 Nov 2011

Qualifying parc ferme: Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 12 November 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/26.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 12 November 2011 Bruno Senna (BRA) Lotus Renault GP R31.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 12 November 2011 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) HRT Formula 1 Team F111.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Saturday, 12 November 2011

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel took his 14th pole position of the season on the final lap of Q3, marking the first time all weekend that a McLaren hadn’t been fastest and bringing the German level with Nigel Mansell’s seasonal record.

Lewis Hamilton set the pace yet again on the first runs in the McLaren, with 1m 38.704s from Vettel on 1m 38.746s, but then team mate Jenson Button upped the ante as the first driver to complete his second run, with 1m 38.631s. Hamilton responded immediately with 1m 38.622s, but right at the end Vettel, almost inevitably, managed 1m 38.481s for Red Bull.

Mark Webber’s second run didn’t improve on 1m 38.858s, leaving him fourth in the other Red Bull. The Ferraris didn’t have the pace when the final chips were down, with team mates Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa fifth on 1m 39.058s and sixth on 1m 39.695s.

After a first run on the Pirelli prime tyres, Nico Rosberg lapped his Mercedes in 1m 39.773s for seventh ahead of team mate Michael Schumacher on 1m 40.662s. Adrian Sutil made a run in 1m 40.768s to take ninth for Force India, while team mate Paul di Resta stayed in the garage to conserve tyres and will thus start 10th.

Hamilton had set the pace in Q2 with 1m 38.434s, the fastest up to that point, but Vettel was close with 1m 38.516s as Schumacher’s 1m 40.554s kept him three-tenths the right side of failure to make Q3.

Sergio Perez’s final run for Sauber failed to better his 1m 40.874s, leaving him 11th ahead of Renault’s Vitaly Petrov on 1m 40.919s.

Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi had to be content with 1m 41.009s, and Bruno Senna was close with 1m 41.079s for Renault as Toro Rosso’s Jaime Alguersuari, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi and Williams’ Pastor Maldonado were similarly closely bunched on 1m 41.162s, 1m 41.240s and 1m 41.760s. The session was momentarily interrupted by red flags whilst the marshals cleared a damaged bollard.

As Hamilton had set the pace comfortably in Q1 with 1m 39.782s, the Lotuses of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli headed those who failed to get through the session. The Finn was within three-tenths of Schumacher, on 1m 42.979s, with team mate Jarno Trulli making a late improvement to 1m 43.884s.

Timo Glock managed 1m 44.515s to place his Virgin 20th, while Daniel Ricciardo was HRT’s leader on 1m 44.641s ahead of Jerome D’Ambrosio’s Virgin on 1m 44.699s. Tonio Liuzzi struggled with his HRT to 1m 45.159s, while Rubens Barrichello failed to do a lap after an oil leak from FP3 could not be fixed in time.

That made it a doubly bad day for Williams, as team mate Maldonado drops from 17th place to the back row with him due to his 10-place grid penalty for using a ninth engine since India. That makes the provisional final order from 17th place: Kovalainen, Trulli, Glock, Ricciardo, D’Ambrosio, Liuzzi, Barrichello and Maldonado.

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