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Qualifying analysis - Mix-up leaves Vettel with it all to do

28 Nov 2015

As Mercedes marched to a record 15th front-row lock-out of the season in Abu Dhabi - with Nico Rosberg leading the charge for the sixth race in a row - the big news behind was the mix-up that saw year-long rival Sebastian Vettel eliminated in Q1. We take a team-by-team look at Saturday’s floodlit action, starting with the Silver Arrows and the Prancing Horses…


Nico Rosberg, 1m 40.237s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 40.614s, P2

Hamilton was fastest in both Q1 and Q2, but Rosberg comfortably turned the tables in Q3 to take his sixth successive pole. Hamilton said his team mate was just quicker, and that he’d been struggling all weekend with his car and had possibly disadvantaged himself by taking something off it as he tried to tame it. He did not say what that something was. Overall the Silver Arrows looked as strong as ever, but Rosberg is still concerned about his high mileage engine.


Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 41.051s, P3
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 42.941, P16

Ferrari had a spectacular drop-off in Q1. Vettel ran softs for most of it then missed his chance of a good lap on supersofts when it belatedly became clear his soft-tyre lap wasn’t fast enough. He thus starts 16th. Raikkonen, meanwhile, rose to the occasion on his second run in Q3, to take a decent third behind the Mercedes.

Force India

Sergio Perez, 1m 41.184s, P4
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 41.686s, P7

Perez did a fabulous job for Force India to take fourth on the grid, and put the VJM08’s performance down to an intensive debrief session after lessons learned in Interlagos. While the Mexican got everything from his car, Hulkenberg was disappointed to qualify only seventh, half a second off his team mate.

Red Bull

Daniel Ricciardo, 1m 41.444s, P5
Daniil Kvyat, 1m 41.933s, P9

Ricciardo said he was really happy with the RB11’s performance, and believes he can find a way round Perez’s Force India tomorrow to fight with Raikkonen. Kvyat was hurt by the electrical gremlin that prevented him from running in FP3, and the lost time proved costly.


Valtteri Bottas, 1m 41.656s, P6
Felipe Massa, 1m 41.759s, P8

Williams set their cars up for the race and thus knew they would struggle to some extent in qualifying. Both drivers - who were visibly sliding at times - said that their FW37s lacked the grip necessary to get any higher up the starting grid.

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz, 1m 42.708s, P10
Max Verstappen, 1m 42.571s, P11

Sainz got a great lap in at the end of Q2, ironically to bump team mate Verstappen. The Spaniard said he was happy with changes he had made to the STR10, and that he got things together well, but the Dutchman admitted that he was unable to prepare his car properly for his final Q2 lap because of traffic, and paid the price by failing to get through to Q3.


Jenson Button, 1m 42.668s, P12
Fernando Alonso, 43.187s, P17

Button was very happy and suggested that his McLaren was the best it had been all year as he qualified 12th. Alonso had looked strong too, but sustained a cut to a tyre on his promising final lap of Q1 and thus missed out on Q2.


Pastor Maldonado, 1m 42.807s, P13
Romain Grosjean, No time, P15

Maldonado struggled to 13th place, while Grosjean’s hopes of making Q3 on his last outing for Lotus was stymied by a gearbox problem.


Felipe Nasr, 1m 43.614s P14
Marcus Ericsson, 1m 43.838s, P18

Both drivers admitted to making small mistakes, but while Nasr was happy with the changes he had made to his car, Ericsson was frustrated when he had to stop because of an as-yet unidentified technical problem.


Will Stevens, 1m 46.297s, P19
Roberto Merhi, 1m 47.434s, P20

While Stevens was very happy with the way his qualifying went, Merhi struggled. The Spaniard has lacked confidence in his car’s brakes all weekend and flat-spotted one set of tyres, then had traffic on his second.