Free Practice 3
For the second session this weekend, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel topped the timing sheets in Saturday afternoon practice; Vettel only secured the practice honours by 0.133 of-a-second over his Australian teammate, Mark Webber.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton suffered from overheating rear tyres under the afternoon sun – it did not stop the former Champion from setting the 3rd fastest time ahead of Fernando Alonso (4th) and Jenson Button (5th). It was quite a good display by Hamilton having missed much of the session, while he was garage bound.
Both Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) and Nico Hulkenberg (Williams) suffered minor front wing cracks during the sixty-minute stint, requiring those parts to be changed. It was clearly an irritant for the German pair that eventually registered the 7th and 11th quickest times of the session.
Heikki Kovalainen also stayed in the garage for much of the session, while the team worked on extensive set up changes. It resulted in the Lotus driver not getting many laps together; however the Finn still set the 19th fastest time.
It is the first blow for the season; a step closer to tentatively touching the world championship trophy. That is how much pole position means for tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and for Sebastian Vettel, the advantage suddenly swung his way.
Championship challenger Lewis Hamilton scored a front row, but with his points position so dire, the 2008 Champion will need something special to grab his second crown tomorrow evening. Vettel still sees threat from his rear as Championship leader, Fernando Alonso will start from 3rd on the grid, with the second McLaren of Jenson Button alongside.
It was a disastrous session for fan favourite Mark Webber. The Australian, who needs to win, found himself mired in 5th – albeit on the racing line from the start. Webber must watch out for the other Ferrari of Felipe Massa, who will go from 6th.
Behind the title protagonists, Rubens Barrichello’s strong end to the season continues with a 7th place position ahead of former ‘teammate Michael Schumacher. Renault’s Vitaly Petrov (9th) and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg (10th) will line-up from the fifth row.
Indeed the shock exit of the second qualifying session was Renault’s Robert Kubica. The Pole made several errors on his fastest lap on his way to the sixth row. Alongside him in 12th is the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi – the Japanese driver slots in one row ahead of his experienced teammate, Nick Heidfeld (14th).
Adrian Sutil was the faster of the Force India’s in 13th place – Sutil’s teammate Force India Vitantonio Liuzzi, ended up three places further back in 16th, just ahead of Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso. From pole position in Brazil, to 15th spot seven days later, Nico Hulkenberg fell down to earth with a bang – his Williams not making it to the final ten-minute session.
The second Toro Rosso of Sebastien Buemi was the sole established car to not make it passed the first session of qualifying. The young Swiss driver made an error on his final run, nearly oversteering into the Armco on the exit of turn nineteen. It would leave Buemi just ahead of Jarno Trulli (19th), Heikki Kovalainen (20th), Timo Glock (21st), Lucas di Grassi (22nd), Bruno Senna (23rd) and Christian Klien (24th).
Abu Dhabi, 3rd Free Practice (November 13th)
1 VETTEL Red Bull 1m40.696s
2 WEBBER Red Bull 1m40.829s
3 HAMILTON McLaren 1m41.280s
4 ALONSO Ferrari 1m41.490s
5 BUTTON McLaren 1m41.578s
6 PETROV Renault 1m41.689s
7 SCHUMACHER Mercedes 1m41.690s
8 ROSBERG Mercedes 1m41.729s
9 KUBICA Renault 1m41.877s
10 HEIDFELD Sauber 1m41.893s
11 HULKENBERG Williams 1m41.934s
12 MASSA Ferrari 1m41.978s
13 BARRICHELLO Williams 1m42.316s
14 KOBAYASHI Sauber 1m42.566s
15 SUTIL Force India 1m42.587s
16 LIUZZI Force India 1m42.858s
17 ALGUERSUARI Toro Rosso 1m42.993s
18 BUEMI Toro Rosso 1m43.344s
19 KOVALAINEN Lotus 1m44.876s
20 TRULLI Lotus 1m45.048s
21 GLOCK Virgin 1m45.050s
22 SENNA HRT 1m45.490s
23 DI GRASSI Virgin 1m45.629s
24 KLIEN HRT 1m46.464s
Abu Dhabi, Qualifying (November 13th)
1 VETTEL Red Bull 1m39.394s
2 HAMILTON McLaren 1m39.425s
3 ALONSO Ferrari 1m39.792s
4 BUTTON McLaren 1m39.823s
5 WEBBER Red Bull 1m39.925s
6 MASSA Ferrari 1m40.202s
7 BARRICHELLO Williams 1m40.203s
8 SCHUMACHER Mercedes 1m40.516s
9 ROSBERG Mercedes 1m40.589s
10 PETROV Renault 1m40.901s
11 KUBICA Renault 1m40.780s
12 KOBAYASHI Sauber 1m40.783s
13 SUTIL Force India 1m40.914s
14 HEIDFELD Sauber 1m41.113s
15 HULKENBERG Williams 1m41.418s
16 LIUZZI Force India 1m41.642s
17 ALGUERSUARI Toro Rosso 1m41.738s
18 BUEMI Toro Rosso 1m41.824s
19 TRULLI Lotus 1m43.516s
20 KOVALAINEN Lotus 1m43.712s
21 GLOCK Virgin 1m44.095s
22 DI GRASSI Virgin 1m44.510s
23 SENNA HRT 1m45.085s
24 KLIEN HRT 1m45.296s