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Qualifying highlights - Abu Dhabi 2015 - The battle for the final pole position of the season

Published by Christine

Rosberg seals the final pole position of the season
Credit: Mercedes AMG Petronas

The final race weekend is upon us and although it does feel as though it's time for a rest, there's still a frisson of excitement to be had about the Abu Dhabi weekend. Rosberg is on form but champion Hamilton will likely want the last honours of the year. Ferrari need to get as close to Mercedes as possible, and Red Bull just want to get any kind of result. Teammate qualifying battles can be decided and we can compare just how far the McLaren has come since the start of the season.

Relive all the action with this impromptu Factbyte Factbox, covering all the important points of a qualifying session in the fading sunshine. Who snatched pole position at Yas Marina? Let's find out!

As it happened: Abu Dhabi 2015 - Qualifying

Event Highlights

  • Nico Rosberg pips Hamilton to pole position after close battle to the finish
  • Sergio Pérez forces a fast lap from Ferrari as Force India find their form
  • Sebastian Vettel drops out in the first session after bad strategy call
  • Fernando Alonso picks up a puncture, finishing 17th as Button scoops 12th
  • 12:45

    Hello F1 friends, how have you jolly well been? In celebration of the last race of the year, and the fact that I have a spare five minutes at last, I'm breaking out the FBFB!

  • 12:45

    In case you've never seen or heard of the Factbyte Factbox before, it's live coverage of Formula One sessions as they happen - you can keep up to date as the action (if there is any) unfolds, or read through later as a handy way of catching up on what you've missed.

  • 12:46

    I'm secretly hoping that no one is reading because a) it’s Abu Dhabi and the championship is decided so I’m not sure the weekend is going to be a thriller and b) I really, really can’t remember how all of this works!

  • 12:47

    So, what do we know? Nico Rosberg has topped two of the three practice sessions, with Lewis Hamilton snatching top honours in the other.

    Fastest Session Times
    Free Practice 1L Hamilton1:43.754
    Free Practice 2N Rosberg1:41.983
    Free Practice 3N Rosberg1:41.856
  • 12:48

    It’s not all rosy in the Mercedes camp, however, as the team are complaining about any unfair advantage Ferrari may have got from letting new team Haas use their wind tunnel. In typical shrugsie fashion, Jean Todt and the FIA have passed the buck to the stewards in Abu Dhabi. It’d be very unlike F1 to have controversy hanging over the final race, wouldn’t it!?

  • 12:48

    TweetTweet from @NobleF1: Fernando Alonso could take a #f1 sabbatical in 2016 if new McLaren-Honda is not improved

  • 12:49

    QuoteThis weekend sees the last race for Romain Grosjean with the Lotus team, as he's off to pastures new and joining Haas for 2016. Mixed emotions from the Frenchman in Abu Dhabi, then.

    “It’s a great project, very exciting. Looking forward. Last race with Lotus, change colour and start again. The good thing about Gene is he’s been very successful in his life… he knows racing and that’s what I like. When they approached me, everything was straight forward, we agreed and moved on.

    It’s a new challenge, it’s going to be a lot of work but it’s a good partnership with Ferrari. Everything looks great, it’s nice to look forward.”

  • 12:53

    TweetTweet from @Jamesallenonf1: I was at Ron Dennis' briefing, he was cautious on @alo_oficial for 2016, but didn't rule out sabbatical if car isn't a step forward #F1

  • 12:55

    Lest we forget, the Abu Dhabi race is a twilight event, so the sun sets as the event unfolds. It's similar for qualifying although not quite as dark. Shadows are creeping across the circuit as we speak though.

  • 12:57

    Weather icon

    Wind speed7.2km/h
  • 12:57

    In a slightly cheeky move, Lotus have posed Romain in front of a vintage picture of himself. Look at that hair!

  • 12:58

    TweetTweet from @toomuchracing: Problem with Yas Marina is that it is a good idea with terrible execution. Long straights into 1-line chicanes. Designed against racing..

  • 12:59
    Qualifying Battle
    WilliamsQualified Ahead
    V Bottas10
    F Massa8
  • 13:00

    Team radioUseful information for Daniel Ricciardo, red equals stop. "You'll have a slight wait at the end of the pit lane. A 20 second wait at the red light. Stop at the red light, please."

  • 13:00

    Huge back end slide for Ricciardo as he hauled his Red Bull out of the garage.

  • 13:01

    Green flagQualifying session 1 begins.

  • 13:02

    Tom Clarkson, on the BBC, suggests the cut off for this session will be 1:42.8. Pole position last year was a 1:40.480 for Nico Rosberg.

  • 13:03

    We've got 18 drivers out on track, a nice mix between soft and supersofts.

  • 13:03

    Just Vettel and Button remain in the garage at the moment.

  • 13:04

    Our first benchmarks are coming in, two Red Bull drivers with Ricciardo ahead - 1:43.401.

  • 13:05

    Naturally, the Mercedes drivers head straight to the top of the timesheets. Hamilton sneaks ahead dropping the top time to 1:40.974.

  • 13:06

    TweetTweet from @ManorF1Team: Will ahead after the first push-laps. A 1:46.992, versus Roberto's 1:47.721.

  • 13:07

    Sergio Pérez has been looking pretty speedy around Yas Marina, he's pppped up to third - although is pushed down by Romain Grosjean. Both hovering about two seconds off the Mercedes though.

  • 13:07

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: Both @MercedesAMGF1 drivers out on the supersoft in Q1, which suggests that the soft is the favoured race tyre #AbuDhabiGP

  • 13:08

    Jenson Button crosses the line to start his lap - the last man to do so. Sparks fly from the bottom of the McLaren as he hustles his way around the first sector.

  • 13:10

    Alonso's currently sitting up in eighth, which is something for Button to aim for. He rounds the final couple of corners, avoiding slower moving traffic, and crosses the line for 16th. Not good.

  • 13:10

    The drop zone, then, currently features Button, Nasr and Ericsson for Sauber, and Stevens and Merhi - who is currently outside the 107%.

  • 13:11

    Merhi has improved on his lap and is now within the qualifying mark. He's still last and 6.684 seconds off the pace, however.

  • 13:11

    Ricciardo hands back some paper to his mechanics as they lower the car and prep him for another run.

  • 13:11

    Meanwhile, the Ferrari pair are picking up the pace. Vettel is currently circling having secured fifth for now, and Kimi Räikkönen is up in third.

  • 13:13

    With just under five minutes left on the clock, it looks like the top drivers are happy with their times. From 1st to 6th place (Mercedes, Ferrari and Lotus drivers), all remain in the pit lane at the moment.

  • 13:15

    Nico Hülkenberg has jumped up to third place, knocked down by Pérez - the two Force Indias closing to about a second off the Mercedes'.

  • 13:16

    TweetTweet from @ForceIndiaF1: ...Nico's P3 only lasts a fleeting moment - Checo's 1:41.983 places him ahead of the Hulk!

  • 13:16

    Team radioTeam radio to Daniel Ricciardo: "Try and look after the right front. We might run this set again in qualifying."

  • 13:17

    One minute left.

  • 13:17

    Marcus Ericsson is informed he has a problem with the car, and it sounded like there was a bit of a sigh in response.

  • 13:18

    Chequered flagQualifying session 1 ends.

  • 13:19

    Jenson Button crosses the line for an impressive ninth place, which pushes his own teammate into the drop zone.

  • 13:19

    And in a huge surprise, Sebastian Vettel hasn't managed to pull it together on his final lap and has now backed off, dropping out in the first session!

  • 13:19

    Fastest three in Q1: Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Sergio Pérez.

  • 13:20
    Out in Q1
    16S VettelFerrari
    17F AlonsoMcLaren
    18M EricssonSauber
    19W StevensManor
    20R MerhiManor
  • 13:24

    It's not really clear what happened with Vettel there, replays of his final lap show him just slowing down. Radio conversations suggest he was complaining about traffic as well.

  • 13:25

    Green flagQualifying session 2 begins.

  • 13:25

    Felipe Massa heads out first, dipping his car through the tunnel and out of the pit lane.

  • 13:26

    He's quickly joined by teammate Valtteri Bottas, as well as Hamilton and Nasr.

  • 13:27

    As more and more cars join the fray, Massa crosses the line to start his first flying lap of the session.

  • 13:28

    There are supersoft tyres bolted on all 11 cars that are out on track right now.

  • 13:29

    Tom Clarkson's cutoff time suggestion for Q2: 1:42.3.

  • 13:29

    Massa sets the benchmark, a 1:42.3. He's right on the suggested cut off, so has some work to do. On his next lap, the Williams driver ran briefly off track but continued.

  • 13:30

    Hamilton jumps to the top with Rosberg two tenths behind him. They've got a comfortable margin to the rest of the pack.

  • 13:30

    Force India showing their solid pace around this circuit, with Hulk up in fourth and Pérez settling in fifth for now.

  • 13:31

    Only Kimi Räikkönen has yet to join the action so far, the Ferrari driver waiting for the optimum moment.

  • 13:31

    Team radioTeam radio to Hülkenberg: "Nico, we believe you have a deflating front left tyre, caution on the straights."

  • 13:32

    Meanwhile, Grosjean is instructed to return the Lotus to the pit lane - slowly. They have a problem with the car.

  • 13:33

    Grosjean hasn't managed to set a time this session, as he heads back into the pit lane and the mechanics close in.

  • 13:33

    Räikkönen heads out for his first jaunt of this second qualifying session.

  • 13:34

    Team radioTeam radio to and from Daniil Kvyat: "How's the balance?"

    "A bit better than before, but last sector still I think, the rear side is the problem."

    He also requests a bit more front wing.

  • 13:35

    It's only Kimi and Bottas out on track at the moment.

  • 13:36

    The drop zone currently features Nasr, Maldonado, and Button, with Kimi on his first lap and Grosjean with no time.

  • 13:36

    Räikkönen zips up into third place, which drops Sainz into the drop zone.

  • 13:37

    Three minutes left on the clock and we're seeing drivers come back out of the garage to improve their qualifying times.

  • 13:38

    The top five are snug in the pit lane then, two Mercedes drivers, Kimi, Ricciardo and Hulk.

  • 13:38

    Grosjean has just exited the pit lane but he's cutting it fine to squeeze in a flying lap. Radio to him: "Romain, it will be super tight, so fast out lap, as quick as you can."

  • 13:39

    Forget that, Grosjean has pulled off to the side of the track. "I've lost everything," he reports. Disappointing conclusion to his last qualifying with the team.

  • 13:40

    Chequered flagQualifying session 2 ends.

  • 13:41

    Button was on a stormer of a lap but just failed to get into the top ten, he's squeezed into twelfth place.

  • 13:42

    Listening back to the full exchange between Grosjean and the pit wall, they were desperate to find somewhere to park the car to avoid yellow flags and messing up qualifying for everyone, although more likely just Maldonado.

  • 13:42

    Top three in that session, Hamilton, Rosberg and Pérez.

  • 13:43
    Out in Q2
    11M VerstappenToro Rosso
    12J ButtonMcLaren
    13P MaldonadoLotus
    14F NasrSauber
    15R GrosjeanLotus
  • 13:44

    It was super close between the two Toro Rosso boys towards the end there, and Sainz was the lucky winner - finishing just four hundredths ahead of Verstappen, but crucially getting into the top ten.

  • 13:48

    QuoteSebastian Vettel: "It wasn’t the plan to go out straight away, we thought that the lap I had on the soft was good enough, in the end it turned out not to be. Kimi is still in there, hopefully he can get at least P3. For tomorrow, ideally we have one car up front and me sitting further back. It’s possible to overtake here, I think we have the speed to progress, how far we will see."

  • 13:48

    Green flagQualifying session 3 begins.

  • 13:49

    Weather icon

    Wind speed1.3mps
  • 13:50

    Nine of the ten cars are out on track now. Carlos Sainz remains in the garage.

  • 13:51

    Sergio Pérez is the first driver on a flying lap, he's putting in a solid and tidy lap and the Force India crosses the line for a 1:41.184.

  • 13:52

    Hülkenberg is a second off his teammate, with Ricciardo splitting the two Force Indias.

  • 13:52

    Hamilton posts the fastest lap of the session so far, but surprisingly Pérez is only one tenth off the Brit's time.

  • 13:53

    Nico Rosberg beats all to the top spot for now, putting in a 1:40.738 for P1.

  • 13:53

    Nine laps on the board, with Rosberg and Hamilton heading the pack. Pérez remains third with Räikkönen slotting into fourth place.

  • 13:54

    TweetTweet from @alo_oficial: "Puncture at the wrong time ...! Very pleased with the progress of the car this weekend !! The direction is correct.."

  • 13:54

    TweetTweet from @pirellisport: Timing will be crucial for these laps: with track temperatures falling, a late run will tend to be faster

  • 13:56

    Just over three minutes on the clock and the last batch of flying laps are coming up.

  • 13:57

    Ricciardo, Kvyat and Bottas head out to start their final stint.

  • 13:57

    Lewis Hamilton dips under the tunnel to exit the pit lane, joining the action. Nico Rosberg follows, with Sergio Pérez not too far behind.

  • 13:58

    Carlos Sainz is the last driver to leave the pit lane and we have all ten cars out on track.

  • 13:59

    Pérez asks if the track is cooling down, and is informed it's a maximum of one degree from the last update.

  • 14:00

    Chequered flagQualifying session 3 ends.

  • 14:00

    Hamilton has gone faster than Rosberg on this lap but Nico is on his own faster lap at the moment.

  • 14:01

    Räikkönen tops Pérez's time, but the Force India is following on desperate to snatch it back.

  • 14:01

    Rosberg hustles his Mercedes across the line to grab back his pole position by three tenths of a second.

  • 14:01

    Pérez couldn't match Kimi's improved pace and has to settle for fourth place.

  • 14:02

    StopwatchPole position for Nico Rosberg with a time of 1:40.237.

  • 14:03
    Q3 Results
    1N RosbergMercedes
    2L HamiltonMercedes
    3K RäikkönenFerrari
    4S PérezForce India
    5D RicciardoRed Bull
    6V BottasWilliams
    7N HülkenbergForce India
    8F MassaWilliams
    9D KvyatRed Bull
    10C SainzToro Rosso
  • 14:04
    Gap Analysis
  • 14:08

    That was a pretty good qualifying, all things considered. Ferrari had a mixed session, with the disappointment of Vettel out in the first session but the redemption of Kimi snatching third.

  • 14:09

    Force India put in a great evening's work, particularly with Sergio Pérez scrabbling for the top positions and securing a spot on the second row of the grid.

  • 14:10

    And of course, props to Nico Rosberg for putting in a fantastic final lap to take another pole position. He's got the momentum of recent results and starts on the front grid slot - can he convert it into a race win tomorrow?

  • 14:11

    I'll be back to track all the action from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix tomorrow, so if you're hanging around following the fun, I will see you then!

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