Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Abu Dhabi 2010 - Qualifying highlights - The final pole position of the F1 season is decided

Published by Christine

Force India get both cars into Q2 in Abu Dhabi
Credit: Force India F1

There was a lot of anticipation ahead of qualifying today, as being on pole position could be make or break for a drivers title chances. The night was falling and the lights were strong as the drivers took to the track. The first session went as expected, with Buemi becoming the first casualty. Trulli had a strong showing, whilst Senna managed to beat Klien.

Q2 had a surprise drop-out in the form of Kubica, who struggled to get to grips with his Renault, whilst teammate Petrov scraped through into Q3. From then on, it was a battle to see who could make their car fastest and get ahead of the rest. It was between Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso, and after a bit of traffic stirred things up, it was Vettel who took the top spot. Webber struggled down in fifth.

Here are the three sessions in a lot more detail.

As it happened: 2010 Abu Dhabi - Qualifying

  • 12:00

    Hello everyone and welcome to the Factbyte Factbox! We've got an hour to go before qualifying for the Abu Dhabi GP begins. Won't you join me?

  • 12:01

    First thing I'm going to do is point you towards our poll - who do you think will be number 1 today?

  • 12:02

    While you're there, you can stick around for live commenting all the action! Or why not try the Dashboard? (It actually works this time)

  • 12:04

    TweetTweet from @fofassociation: Anyone feeling a bit nervous for qualifying? I am.

  • 12:05

    I was up and about for an unscheduled FBFB session for FP3 earlier. You can read the full highlights here:

  • 12:05

    It was a pretty calm session though. Red Bull were fast. Hamilton had some tyre issues, again. Force India were a little further down the order than is comfortable. How will all this relate to qualifying though?

  • 12:10

    The fastest laps so far this weekend.

    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1Vettel1:42.760
    Free Practice 2Hamilton1:40.888
    Free Practice 3Vettel1:40.696
  • 12:11

    I am going to quote myself from earlier now. How odd.

    The lap record around the Yas Marina circuit (albeit from only one weekend's running) is Sebastian Vettel with a 1:40.279, set in 2009 in a Red Bull.

  • 12:13

    The BBC are starting a little late due to some parade business in London, but they'll be live streaming for UK viewers here:

  • 12:14

    Autosport will provide live text updates here: They've not started yet either.

  • 12:14

    Live timing will be here: Guess what? It's not started yet.

  • 12:17

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: 45 mins to the most important qualifying session of the year... The crew is working on the cars, the engineers are working on the run plan

  • 12:18

    The BBC have started!

  • 12:18

    Phew. For a minute there, I thought I'd got the wrong day.

  • 12:25
    Driver Standings
    1Fernando Alonso246
    2Mark Webber238
    3Sebastian Vettel231
    4Lewis Hamilton222
  • 12:25

    TweetTweet from @f1photos: Latest weather forecast from airport is wind gusts upto 30knots, rain and thunderstorms before 6pm local. Can't see a cloud in the sky.

  • 12:27
    2010 Pole Positions
    1Sebastian Vettel9
    2Mark Webber5
    3Fernando Alonso2
    4Lewis Hamilton1
    5Nico Hulkenberg1
  • 12:28

    Can Nico Hulkenberg do it again? I didn't put him in the poll, but it could happen. Couldn't it?

  • 12:29

    The BBC show a clip of Alonso and Massa on the Ferrari World rollercoaster. It looks quite terrifying. Not great preparation for a GP, I'd imagine.

  • 12:31

    TweetTweet from @JRobertsF1: Paddock buzzing. Shadows lengthening and the King of Spain is in town. It's going to be a tense qualifying. Can Lewis topple Red Bull?

  • 12:32

    Interview with Hamilton: "I'm gonna go out there and do everything I can. I might be the most aggressive I've been all year to take the places I can. Last weekend I was a bit too cautious. That won't happen this weekend. I'll be at my best this weekend, that's all I can do."

  • 12:32

    All the mechanics in the McLaren garage are swarming around Hamilton's car, whilst Button's chassis just has a few engineers making tweaks.

  • 12:34

    Ahead of this session, here are some stats for the team under the microscope:

    Qualifying Battle
    Red BullQualified Ahead
    Sebastian Vettel12
    Mark Webber6
  • 12:35

    Interview with Martin Whitmarsh: "Our task is a huge mountain to climb but in one sense it's simpler. Lewis has to try and win the race. I think it's going to be intriguing, during qualifying, how these guys perform. There's tremendous pressure on them. I've been involved in championships where it's won on the last corners. Certainly, two years ago."

  • 12:36

    That quote is from a great interview on the Beeb, with Horner and Whitmarsh. Apparently Domenicali declined to appear. Boo.

  • 12:37

    Christian Horner on his drivers: "They're racing for the biggest prize in motorsport. They won't be spending Christmas together, I think that's clear. They work transparently, and ultimately it will be down to what they do in the car. They've got equal opportunities."

  • 12:42

    Tony and Richard get measuredTony Fernandes and Richard Branson are measured up for flight attendant outfits. One of them will be wearing something fetching tomorrow. Via @MyLotusRacing

  • 12:43

    TweetTweet from @f1photos: The wind is picking up a bit. Blowing across the long back straight. Still no clouds. Lights are on.

  • 12:45

    15 minutes to go. Have you voted? I'll be closing the poll soon. Assuming I remember.

  • 12:49

    Bridgestone have brought the soft and super-soft tyres this weekend. We've already seen Hamilton struggling for grip, and a few drivers locking up during FP3.

  • 12:50

    Medium tyres! Medium, not soft. Apologies. Not that we can tell the difference, anyway.

  • 12:54
    Historical Session Times
    Year: 2009
    Free Practice 1Hamilton1:43.939
    Free Practice 2Kovalainen1:41.307
    Free Practice 3Button1:40.625
    The RaceVettel1:40.279
  • 12:55



    Wind Speed3.9mps
  • 12:58

    TweetTweet from @MikeGascoyne: The tyres here are not coming in on the first timed lap, fronts taking time to come in

  • 12:59

    Live timing has reset. We are ready to go.

  • 13:00

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 13:00

    The Toro Rosso drivers lead the way, as per usual. Virgin Racing drivers close behind.

  • 13:00

    It does look as though the wind is picking up a little.

  • 13:02

    Lots of drivers are heading out on their outlaps, to get a feel for the circuit, how the tyres are working, and perhaps set a banker lap.

  • 13:02
    Braking Analysis
    Turn 1
    (forecast data from Brembo)
    Initial Speed279km/h
    Final Speed159km/h
    Stopping Distance64m
    Braking Time1.09s
    Maximum Deceleration4.41g
    Maximum Pedal load130kg
  • 13:04

    Alguersuari sets the first time of the session - 1:43.428. Buemi crosses the line four tenths down.

  • 13:04

    Just Kubica and Kobayashi have yet to leave the garage.

  • 13:05

    QuoteComment from Stuart Taylor: I wish instead of that long back straight, they had some fast swishy S-bends. I wish it so much it hurts a little

  • 13:05

    Hamilton has popped up to P1 with a representative time - 1:41.245. Button sits behind him a second slower.

  • 13:06

    Both Red Bull and Ferrari drivers are about to set their first times now.

  • 13:06

    RadioTeam radio from Button: "I've got a vibration, it's becoming massive. It started very small but it's getting bigger and bigger."

  • 13:08

    Hulkenberg jumped up to second there, just a couple of tenths off the front runners. It wouldn't be so much of a surprise the second time, though, would it?

  • 13:08

    The top places are alternating between Hamilton and Alonso at the moment. Button is down to fourth, perhaps because of his massive vibration.

  • 13:09

    Hamilton's P1 is 1:40.743. Alonso also in the 1:40s.

  • 13:09

    Halfway through the first session and still no sign of Kubica or Kobayashi.

  • 13:10

    TweetTweet from @VirginRacing: Timo reporting liuzzi blocked him massively and he is coming in

  • 13:10

    Ah ha! Kub and Kob have left the pitlane. They sound like a crime-fighting duo or something.

  • 13:11

    Into the pitlane comes half the field. The front runners are out, plus our two rogue drivers without a time so far.

  • 13:12

    The top time is dropping all the time, but...

    Field Spread
    1stLewis Hamilton1:40.335
    24thChristian Klien1:45.889
  • 13:12

    QuoteComment from RG: I like that fbfb "This week, Kub and Kob solve the issue of, where was Schumacher during the drivers photo."

  • 13:13

    QuoteComment from Alex Andronov: Martin says they are cleaning the brakes on Jensons car.

  • 13:13

    Kubica's first time pops him up to 13th, whilst Kobayashi manages 17th.

  • 13:14

    With everyone now sporting a laptime, the drivers worryingly close to dropping out in Q3 are Alguersuari, Kobayashi and Buemi.

  • 13:14

    I really do not enjoy that moving advert above the track that is a rippling chequered flag. I am easily confused.

  • 13:15

    Alonso is quickest now, we are inching closer to dropping into the 1:39s. Who can do it first?

  • 13:15

    x2 Red Bulls, Hamilton, Massa and Schumacher are in the pitlane. The rest are out on track. Complaints of traffic will be forthcoming, I'm sure.

  • 13:16

    Four minutes to go.

  • 13:16

    Kobayashi is on a hot lap, navigates past the sister Sauber to cross the line and...

  • 13:17

    ...improves to 12th.

  • 13:17

    He's immediately pushed down to 13th by Petrov.

  • 13:17

    It is Alguersuari who is looking firmly stuck in 18th, at the moment.

  • 13:18

    TweetTweet from @VirginRacing: Lucas also reporting traffic is a bit of a pain. He should try the m25;-)

  • 13:18

    Button has returned to the track. He is safely through, no doubt, but will want to test out whether the brake work has fixed the vibration.

  • 13:20

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 13:20

    Alguersuari still in the drop-zone. It looks like he's stayed on the harder tyre, though. He's on a lap right now.

  • 13:21

    Alguersuari improved to 17th. Buemi on track right behind him, but made a mistake and was terribly close to the barrier. He finished the lap, but wasn't fast enough. Jaime is through.

  • 13:22

    Meanwhile, Rosberg popped up to P2, whilst the others remained in the pitlane.

  • 13:23
    Qualifying Position
    18Sebastien Buemi1:41.824
    19Jarno Trulli1:43.516
    20Heikki Kovalainen1:43.712
    21Timo Glock1:44.095
    22Lucas di Grassi1:44.510
    23Bruno Senna1:45.085
    24Christian Klien1:45.296
  • 13:23

    Now, I did remember to close the poll, honest. The majority of the vote went to Sebastian Vettel, with most thinking he will take pole position. Button picked up just one vote.

  • 13:25
    Top Speeds
    Sector 1Buemi292kph
    Sector 2Petrov313kph
    Sector 3Hamilton226kph
    Speed TrapBuemi317kph
  • 13:25

    Buemi fast, but not fast enough!

  • 13:26

    TweetTweet from @clubforce: Lots of discussion about tyres to use in q2

  • 13:27

    These two are both out, with Trulli finishing ahead today.

    Qualifying Battle
    Lotus RacingQualified Ahead
    Heikki Kovalainen8
    Jarno Trulli11
  • 13:27

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 13:28

    11 cars out on track immediately. Vettel and Webber remain in the garage, as does Kubica, Alguersuari, Heidfeld and Kobayashi.

  • 13:29

    TweetTweet from @InsideFerrari: Both cars are out on hard tyres again

  • 13:31

    Interview with Glock: "Was okay, quite good balance in the car. Wish we could have got closer to the Lotus. Looked better this morning but in qualifying there was nothing else possible. I got everything out of the car, I don't think there was any room for improvement for me."

  • 13:32

    Button is ahead at the moment with a 1:40.267. Alonso and Massa behind. Some speed from Felipe here.

  • 13:32

    Button reports on his team radio that he nearly collected a Red Bull on the way out. That would mix things up a bit!

  • 13:33

    Heidfeld is the only driver yet to leave the garage, whilst Sutil has set a time and returned to the pitlane.

  • 13:33

    TweetTweet from @tonyfernandes: Great qualifying from both drivers. Really happy. Best of new teams. 1.6 seconds from beumi on a longer track.

  • 13:33

    RadioTeam radio from Hamilton: "Webber's just backed up into me."

  • 13:34

    Both McLaren's having Red Bull trouble!

  • 13:34

    Replays show Hamilton running very wide, and so he gave up that lap and returned to the pitlane.

  • 13:36

    Interview with Buemi: "I lost a bit of time in the last sector, at least three tenths, I touch a little bit the wall. I'm a bit disappointed. The car was not too bad, we're quite close to the rest of the pack, we'll need to see what is possible tomorrow."

  • 13:36

    Vettel is the first driver to dip into the 1:39s. Yay! 1:39.874.

  • 13:36

    Heidfeld is out on track now, the last driver to set a laptime.

  • 13:36

    Five minutes left of the session. Vettel, Button and Alonso are the top three.

  • 13:37

    The drop zone at the moment - Hulk, Liuzzi, Sutil, Alguersuari, Kob, Hamilton and Heidfeld.

  • 13:38

    Heidfeld has improved to 16th, dropping Hamilton down to last. He is out on track ready to put in a lap, but he'll need to improve quite a way.

  • 13:38

    Yellow flagYellow flags.

  • 13:39

    Not sure what the yellow flag is there for, but it may ruin Lewis' lap.

  • 13:39

    Green flagTrack is clear.

  • 13:39

    RadioTeam radio from Hamilton: "Massa just tried taking me off!"

  • 13:40

    Replays show the Ferrari coming round the outside of the McLaren, and turning in on Hamilton. He took avoiding action, and knocked a bollard over - which is presumably what the yellow flags were for.

  • 13:41

    Vettel is in the pits, but is comfortably first with his 1:39.

  • 13:41

    Hamilton improves to second fastest.

  • 13:41

    That means Kubica and Sutil are into the drop zone.

  • 13:42

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 13:42

    Button has pushed his teammate down to third. Kubica is trying to improve into the top ten.

  • 13:43

    Petrov is 8th and has just returned to the pitlane.

  • 13:43

    Top three Vettel, Button and Rosberg.

  • 13:45
    Qualifying Position
    11Robert Kubica1:40.780
    12Kamui Kobayashi1:40.783
    13Adrian Sutil1:40.914
    14Nick Heidfeld1:41.113
    15Nico Hulkenberg1:41.418
    16Tonio Liuzzi1:41.642
    17Jaime Alguersuari1:41.738
  • 13:45
    Qualifying Battle
    RenaultQualified Ahead
    Robert Kubica17
    Vitaly Petrov2
  • 13:45

    Unusual performance from Kubica there, Vitaly must be very happy.

  • 13:46

    Lewis hits a bollardThe Massa/Hamilton incident from the bollard's point of view.

  • 13:46

    Marshals are out on track fixing the bollard now.

  • 13:49

    Ten minutes for the top ten, then. Two McLarens, two Mercedes, two Red Bulls, two Ferraris, a Barrichello and a Petrov.

  • 13:49

    Closer bollard viewEven closer!

  • 13:50

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 13:50

    Barrichello leaves the garage first, the McLaren drivers behind him.

  • 13:51

    Ted Kravitz has news from the McLaren garage: Hamilton says he was trying to avoid Massa, and the Ferrari was far too aggressive. Likely this will go to the stewards.

  • 13:52

    Rosberg, Vettel and Petrov remain in the garage for now.

  • 13:54

    Button crosses the line first - 1:39.823 - but Hamilton pushes him down to take provisional pole.

  • 13:54

    Alonso ran a little wide, and has to settle for third for now.

  • 13:55

    Webber's first lap is very slow, down in the 1:48s. That's Free Practice times, young man.

  • 13:56

    The top five drivers have returned to the garage, leaving the others to set a time.

  • 13:56

    Just four minutes left. It may get a bit manic in a moment, I think.

  • 13:56

    I don't know who I am cheering for!

  • 13:57

    Vettel's first time puts him on pole - 1:39.448. Can anyone beat that? Webber is looking slow. Only McLaren can do it, and they are in the garage right now.

  • 13:57

    Hamilton comes out of the garage. They're leaving it late.

  • 13:58

    Button out now as well. All ten cars on track.

  • 13:58

    Petrov hasn't set a time yet, he's taking his time!

  • 13:58

    Webber remains fourth fastest, but has time to do another lap. Vettel goes even faster.

  • 13:59

    There's only seven tenths between the top five.

  • 13:59

    Massa and Alonso have found traffic with a Mercedes.

  • 14:00

    Petrov finally puts a time in, 8th at the moment.

  • 14:00

    Massa passed the line with just a second to go, he can complete another lap.

  • 14:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 14:01

    Hamilton is up on Vettel's time so far.

  • 14:01

    He can't make it. Second for Hamilton.

  • 14:01

    Alonso takes third, but he will be happy that Webber is two places behind him.

  • 14:04
    Qualifying Position
    1Sebastian Vettel1:39.394
    2Lewis Hamilton1:39.425
    3Fernando Alonso1:39.792
    4Jenson Button1:39.823
    5Mark Webber1:39.925
    6Felipe Massa1:40.202
    7Rubens Barrichello1:40.203
    8Michael Schumacher1:40.516
    9Nico Rosberg1:40.589
    10Vitaly Petrov1:40.901
  • 14:04

    The Red Bull guys seem really happy. Alonso perhaps less so, but he'll cheer up when the strategy talks begin, no doubt. Vettel is smiling enormously.

  • 14:05

    QuoteComment from me: alonso was saved by massa letting him through at the last second.

  • 14:09

    Interview with Webber: "I'm not rapped, to be fifth on the grid is not very good. Disappointing of course but still a long way to go tomorrow. The fat lady hasn't sung yet. I would have liked to be further up but I couldn't get the base. We need to be there at the end, of course, a lot of things can still happen in the race. We've seen races change, so we're not... the championship isn't decided today, but it would have been nice to be further up. We're still in the hunt, that's the main thing."

  • 14:11

    TweetTweet from @redbullf1spy: The only drivers to make it to Q3 at every single race this year? Mark and Seb. There should be points for that. Or a cake of some sort…

  • 14:12

    Press conference quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "We start from pole, couldn't be better. It was a tough qualifying session. We knew the conditions would be tricky, at night, the temperatures dropping. Yesterday we were not 100% happy but we made a good step today. In the end, if we would have done two runs it would have been a better choice, but nonetheless we went out last and we did it. Very good job today by everyone. Now we're looking forward to tomorrow and see what happens."

  • 14:13

    Press conference quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "Today is a much better start of a weekend for us, the team have done some great things improving certain parts of the car. A good feeling for us, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. We're quite chilled and happy. Great job also done by Jenson, we're in good stead to hopefully score more points than the Ferraris tomorrow."

  • 14:16

    Press conference quotes - Fernando Alonso: "Tough qualifying for everyone, changing positions constantly. You never know how competitive you are until Q3 finish. I think the first attempt was not great, I had some traffic in the first sectors. I knew in the second set of tyres there is some potential, so I push to the limit. Third place is great. I think for us, yesterday we did a good job in the setup. Today it was a good qualifying for us, so we just need one more day of perfection. We are more or less in the same situation we were in two days ago. We know four contenders, I think everything is down to tomorrow's race. Anything can happen. We saw in the last two or three events some changes. In Korea, Red Bull were strong but lost the race with some mechanical issues. IN Brazil we saw some pit stop issues. We need to complete the 55 laps without any problem. I think it will be a tough race, long race for everyone."

  • 14:16

    A final word from Sebastian: "I like this track, last year we had a good experience here, the car was fantastic. As Fernando and Lewis said, it's a long race and anything can happen. We have to go step by step but today we did the best job we can. We're in front of everyone else."

  • 14:19

    TweetTweet from @autosportlive: Red Bull takes a remarkable 15th pole of the year, matching the record also achieved in dominant seasons by McLaren and Ferrari.

  • 14:22

    Once again, apologies for the crushed text, but these F1 cars just get so close together.

    Battle For Pole
  • 14:24

    Not a lot in it for those final top ten.

    Field Spread
    1stSebastian Vettel1:39.394
    10thVitaly Petrov1:40.901
  • 14:25

    So that must be it for the Abu Dhabi action today. We've got Red Bull with mixed emotions - Vettel on pole, but Webber frustrated to be starting a few rows back.

  • 14:26

    Petrov did really well to outqualify Kubica, and at one point he was running 8th in Q3 as well. He finished 10th, but that is a good showing for him.

  • 14:27

    Keep an eye on the news in case there is any word on the Hamilton and Massa incident. I suspect they will leave it be, but you never can tell with the stewards.

  • 14:28

    It's all about the race tomorrow then. I will be back here, bringing you all the facts and information that I can. The race begins at 1pm GMT (5pm local) but I will probably be starting an hour or so before that.

  • 14:28

    Stay on Sidepodcast for plenty of results, updates and discussions. I will see you tomorrow!

  • 14:29

    Wait, wait, before I go!

  • 14:29

    QuoteComment from Pat W: Well the vote turned out right

  • 14:29

    Good spot! Vettel took pole, as predicted by lots of voters. More poll goodness tomorrow.

  • 14:29

    I'm really going this time. Bye!

All content in the series Abu Dhabi 2010