Man of the moment Sebastian Vettel took a last gasp pole position for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, edging out the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button to take his 14th top spot of the season. The double champ has now equalled Nigel Mansell’s record of the same number of poles set all the way back in 1992.

Seb and Jenson both emulate Mansell - Sutton Images

Here’s how it all went down…


Many cars queued for the green light for the start of Q1, with the Renaults and Toro Rossos the first to set times. Mark Webber was the first front runner to set a competitive time, going a whole second quicker than the midfield runners, before a ding-dong battle for top spot commenced between Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Webber and Jenson Button.

Joining the usual suspects of Team Lotus, Marussia Virgin and HRT was Rubens Barrichello. The Brazilian’s Williams failed to overcome Friday’s engine problems and faile to set a time.


18. Heikki Kovalainnen – 1:42.979

19. Jarno Trulli – 1:43.884

20. Timo Glock – 1:44.515

21. Daniel Riccardio – 1:44.641

22. Jerome D’Ambrosio – 1:44.699

23. Tonio Luizzi – 1:45.159

24. Rubens Barrichello – No time set


As the sun started to set it was Toro Rosso again who wanted a piece of the action before anyone else, sending Jaime Alguersauri to the track straightaway. But, it was the sister team Red Bull who raised the bar on the softer option tyres first. Vettel slipped into the 1.38’s bracket, only to have Hamilton go faster right away. A red flag brought out by an errant bollard on the racing line gave the teams a breather.

After the slight break, Felipe Massa did his best stunt man impression by getting all four wheels off the ground. After that excitement, focus turned to who would make it into the top 10 shootout. Ultimately, it was a two-by-two drop out for three teams – Sauber, Renault and Toro Rosso – while Pastor Maldonado set the slowest time of the session. That really didn’t matter, as the Venezuelan already had a 10-place grid penalty thanks to using his 9th engine of the season.


11. Sergio Perez – 1:40.874

12. Vitaly Petrov – 1:40.919

13. Sebastian Buemi – 1:41.009

14. Bruno Senna – 1:41.079

15. Jaime Aguersuari – 1:41.162

16. Kamui Kobayashi – 1:41.240

17. Pastor Maldonado – 1:41.790 (relegated to 24th, penalty for 9th engine use of the season)



McLaren wanted their shot at pole position and took to the track, leading the Ferraris, then the Red Bulls. The first round of laps had Webber and Vettel split the McLarens, with Lewis Hamilton coming out on top. Alonso and Massa slotted in behind them, half a second behind.

The second, and final, round of fast laps also involved the Force Indias and Mercedes cars, but they could only manage to fight amongst themselves for spots 8 to 10. Jenson Button improved by a whisker to take provisional top spot…only for Lewis to snatch it by 0.009 of a second. All eyes then focused on the last man on track, Sebastian Vettel, who duly delivered an awe inspiring lap to take his 14th pole position on 2011 by nearly 0.2. The delight was plain to see – the young German punching the air moments after crossing the line.

1. Sebastian Vettel – 1:38.481

2. Lewis Hamilton – 1:38.622

3. Jenson Button – 1:38.631

4. Mark Webber – 1.38.858

5. Fernando Alonso – 1:39.058

6. Felipe Massa – 1:39.695

7. Nico Rosberg – 1:39.773

8. Michael Schumacher – 1:40.662

9. Adrian Sutil – 1:40.768

10. Paul di Resta – No time set

Seb shined in the twilight - Sutton Images