Untouchable Hamilton claims Abu Dhabi pole (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying)

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Hamilton kept the two Red Bull drivers behind to take pole position

Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to take pole position by two-thirds of a second.

The two Red Bulls will line up behind him but team mate Heikki Kovalainen was left 13th after his McLaren broke down during Q2.


Hamilton began qualifying with an impressive show of strength, reeling off a series of quick laps on the medium tyre. He finished off with a 1’39.873, which at that point was 1.4s faster than anyone else, and spent the rest of the session in the pits.

Button got closest to Hamilton’s time, setting a 1’40.378 later in Q1. Kovalainen, however, only escaped the drop zone with his final lap, almost a whole second down on Hamilton.

Kazuki Nakajima also made a late escape from the bottom five and those two 11th-hour improvements left Fernando Alonso dropping to a disastrous 16th – ending his final qualifying session for Renault.

The Force Indias, having shown some promise in practice, were also knocked out in the first part of the session.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16. Fernando Alonso, Renault – 1’41.667
17. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India-Mercedes – 1’41.701
18. Adrian Sutil, Force India-Mercedes – 1’41.863
19. Romain Grosjean, Renault – 1’41.950
20. Giancarlo Fisichella, Ferrari – 1’42.184


A few drivers, including the McLaren duo, tried to get through Q2 using just the soft tyre to set a time, but generally found the medium tyres better. Kovalainen, however, was in real trouble – his McLaren came to a halt shortly after he’d set a 1’40.983.

Once again, Hamilton was the man to beat, setting a 1’39.695 to snatch the top spot from Vettel by three-tenths. There was nothing his team mate could do about being eliminated however.

The other Finish driver was also in trouble. Kimi Raikkonen was left in 11th as Nico Rosberg burst free of the drop zone with his final lap.

Sebastien Buemi made it into the final ten comfortably, but team mate Jaime Alguersuari was over half a second slower than anyone else, ending up 15th.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari – 1’40.726
12. Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota – 1’40.777
13. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren-Mercedes – 1’40.983
14. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams-Toyota – 1’41.148
15. Jaime Alguersuari, Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1’41.689


A host of different drivers took provisional pole position during Q3 – but with Hamilton biding his time it seemed inevitable they would be disappointed.

And so it proved, as the McLaren driver timed his final lap to perfection and set a 1’40.948 to demote Vettel to second.

Webber lined up behind his team mate. The two Brawns followed with Button, who complained of tyre vibrations, beaten by Barrichello once again.

The only Toyota driver to reach Q3 was Trulli, who managed sixth, while the BMWs start their final Grand Prix from the fourth row.

The fuel weights will be published in a few hours’ time, but they’re not likely to offer Hamilton’s rivals any realistic hope they can keep him from victory. Tomorrow’s race already looks like being a fight for second place.

Top ten drivers in Q3

1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes – 1’40.948
2. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault – 1’41.615
3. Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault – 1’41.726
4. Rubens Barrichello, Brawn-Mercedes – 1’41.786
5. Jenson Button, Brawn-Mercedes – 1’41.892
6. Jarno Trulli, Toyota – 1’41.897
7. Robert Kubica, BMW – 1’41.992
8. Nick Heidfeld, BMW – 1’42.343
9. Nico Rosberg, Williams-Toyota – 1’42.583
10. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso-Ferrari – 1’42.713

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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78 comments on “Untouchable Hamilton claims Abu Dhabi pole (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying)”

  1. we need fuel! if hamilton is heavier than vettel webber and rubens…well i can safely say hes for sure in the best position

    1. I don’t quite think fuel loads will matter so much in this race. Hamilton is just the quickest thing on 4 wheels this weekend.

      1. He is not heavy:

        “With that lap for sure we should have thought about going longer, but I don’t think we were too aggressive [on fuel]. That lap felt like it was getting better and better.”

  2. My guess is Hamilton is maybe a lap or two shorter if not the same.
    Even though, his speed is at least ~0.3s a lap better than even the Red Bulls so he should be able to pull out enough to maintain an advantage.
    I have to say a real treat watching Lewis here, absolutely on fire. A real statement of intent going forward…

  3. Prisoner Monkeys
    31st October 2009, 14:38

    Told you Raikkonen couldn’t do it, Steph …

    1. Lol! God how long to our arguments rumble on for :P They are very fun.
      We haven’t had race yet if anyone can fight back then it is Kimi and Ferrari can choose what strategy they want now. So I’m not that disappointed

    2. kimi was still 1.2 secs faster than his teammate. The f60 couldn’t do it.

  4. I am relived! Not cuz Hamilton’s got pole, but relived by the fact that 70% of F1 Fanatics were not made to look like fools! Glad he didn’t let us down. Wouldn’t be surprised if he is heavier that the ones behind him. Sad ending of Kovi, the way he was gesticulating after he got out of the car tells me its game over :( Dunno why Button messed up again, where is that elusive champion’s drive?

    1. Brake problem, he was right on the pace,till then, Brawn will fix it.

      What a boring Grid though, even if Hamiltons on a poor strategy the Redbulls will just swallow him in the pitstops.

      My big hope for the race is Jenson, if he can fight his way to a podium I’ll be happy.

    2. How did Button mess up?

    3. Button is good but he is not exceptional. When he’s on board a limited car he is down.

      However, Button was fantastic when he had a great car.

      1. Button was fantastic when he had a great car.

        Everyone is fantastic when they have great cars Willian, Button’s no exception. And I really dunno why bad luck follows Kovi like a shadow, he really needs to consult an astrologer :P

        1. LOL, nice one.

        2. Everyone is fantastic when they have great cars

          But he had a pace better than his team-mate.

          Some drivers are better when the car is not very well (see Rubens, Fisichella, for example).

          Is not everyone who have as good pace as Button had.

          I really dunno why bad luck follows Kovi like a shadow, he really needs to consult an astrologer

          It’s true! :P

          1. Barrichello was unhappy with the brakes during the first few races. For Silverstone he got different brakes and that changed things for him.

        3. And Kovalainen will lose five places tomorrow. He will change the gearbox.

          1. Now he definitely needs to consult ;)

        4. Everytime there’s a Finn driving a McLaren he’s always the unlucky one. Raikkonen’s car was always breaking down…Häkkinen had a lot of problems as well.

          1. Really! I remember a race that Hakkinen had breaking down on the last lap.

          2. Yeah so many problems that he only picked up a couple of WDC’s.

  5. Hamilton had a great qualifying. If he don’t do mistakes will win easily the race.

    Moreover, I feel that he will enter next season as favourite to title!

  6. Immense drive from Hamilton he is going to be unstoppable next year

    1. Just watch the Ferraris next year Tommy :P

      1. StrFerrari4Ever
        31st October 2009, 14:54

        I agree TommyB he can be something immense next year if the MP4/25 is right at the sharp end. Today he was masterful hats off to him I’m not his biggest fan but that performance today made you proud to be an ENGLISHMAN!
        I’m hoping his lighter than the Red Bull’s but even if he is that car just seems to have enough pace to stop any challenge.
        A mention to the birthday boy Buemi :D unfortunately I missed quali 1&2 as I had to go to flippin ASDA with my dad to buy “groceries” but Q3 again for Buemi and it seems like his going for a 1 stopper lets hope it will be successful tommorow in the race!

        1. Yes but next year he should have more to contend with i.e Alo, Mas, Rai, Vet. Not saing he can’t get it but it will be better performances when he is fighing the best. Right now he is only fighting Seb and his car.

          1. Yes STR I hope Buemi is in for another good race. He was so quick in practice too. I think Jaime did well to scrape through into Q2 when someone like Alonso missed out.

      2. Steph – I predict that we will see a titan fight between Massa and Alonso in Ferrari camp and Lewis will benefit from that – like Kimi did in 2007.

        I think Whitmarsh should study Jean Todt´s management style in the 2000´s and keep the average Heikki, letting Lewis dominate the team completely, in the same way Schummy made in Ferrari years.

        1. Good to the team. Bad to the race.

        2. Whitmarsh should study Jean Todt´s management style in the 2000´s and keep the average Heikki, letting Lewis dominate the team completely, in the same way Schummy made in Ferrari years.

          Its my worst fear that Hammi & his smug dad could turn mclaren into the ferrari of the scummy-toad era and that could be the worst thing to happen to a mclaren fan :(

          I would rather see mclaren go winless for decades that them employing scummy-toad tactics & we don’t need another rubens. Even is hammi is a fair guy, his dad isn’t!!

          1. What an absolute load of rubbish you talk.

          2. they already do LOL

            dont let the rose colour glass fool you Macc fans….

            why you would say LH is title favorite for 2010 is beyond me..they will have no kers next year, and have to find that pace in the car alone with no artificial power boost.
            Being an evolution year updating the car to the end of the season like RBR wont hurt them 1 little bit…it’s no different than post season testing. And then consider Ferrari stopped working on the car months ago and still be a stable contender.
            Mclaren have to prove they can not only fix their aero blunders, of 09 but improve the car the most out of all the teams on the grid. If you were to take the kers of the car right now they would be dead last on the grid

        3. I agree Becken. With Red Bull and Brawn the “best of the rest”

          1. I agree Becken

            meaning you wouldn’t mind seeing a hamilton domination? I wouldn’t like that. That could be the worst thing to happen.

  7. Hamilton’s intent on dominating the practice and Qualifying sessions was magnificent to follow so far this weekend. IT put the excitement in this final race. Now, with all the top drivers and cars in the top bunch this race is the most anticipated for me this year.

    1. Hamilton wasn’t intent on dominating. He didn’t put in any special effort to be fastest. For instance he didn’t set any times in qualifying simulations. Although he did try one, but had to abort it.

      Take for instance Kobayashi who took the Rosberg approach of free practice and put in many qualifying simulations. Makes you look good to the untrained viewer, but eventually the truth catches up with you.

  8. ‘5. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes’– so being world champ gives you the power to choose any car you want? cool.

    1. he’s still be number 1 if he went to mclaren u numpty :P, brawn would be 3&4

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        31st October 2009, 20:39

        Sorry Brandz. You’re the numpty, Sato113 is refering to the erroneous description in Keith’s article as “5. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes – 1′41.892”.
        Gosh, it’s horrible to have to explain a joke.

    2. Do you know something we don’t Keith? ;-)

  9. The fuel weights will be published in a few hours’ time, but they’re not likely to offer Hamilton’s rivals any realistic hope they can keep him from victory.

    Watching the face of Hamilton during the press conference, I’m afraid he has no any concern about being low fueled.

    1. I feel really sorry for him :( But I have to say that he did under perform on numerous occasions. Take Monza for example, he had the best strategy of all, but faded away in the race & I believe he’s suffering from immense lack of confidence.

      1. I feel exactly the same mp4 and it’s so sad to see what is happening to Kovy. I have been impressed with him at times (I liked him at Spa this year he worked hard there) but it’s just like he isn’t fulfilling his potential.

      2. yep I agree

    2. It seems that he alredy was sacked…

    3. I feel sorry for him.

      “Every time this season – when Hamilton and I are in the third part of qualifying – I had to do it with more fuel. If you take into account the quantities of fuel, I would have had pole position several times,”

      However, can the driver not overule how much fuel he takes to qualifying though? Seems strange that the driver cannot overule the team – I would be very surprised and dissapointed if the team didn’t allow driver opinions on this.

      1. Seems Kovi is not an assertive guy, leaves it all to his engineers to decide. Knowing McLaren, they wouldn’t do such a thing. Monza was a blown opportunity. He could have easily won that race but for his slumber.

        1. I’d like to hope so too – McLaren in my opinion would never force a driver into a fuel strategy against their will… It’s that phrasing that bugs me:

          “I had to do it with more fuel…”

          I think unassertive is a quite good description of Kovi I’m afraid. Nice bloke but maybe not cut out for a top team in F1.

          1. I seriously wouldn’t have minded seeing kovi in mclaren for 2010, but the prospect of having kimi back is too good an opportunity to miss. Agreed he’s had a bad car & everything, but so has hamilton. Agreed he didn’t get the upgrades for nurburgring(blame testing ban!!) but he did have the same car as hamilton for hungary, but Hamilton went on to win & Kovi? Languishing in 5th. blew up his quali chances in valencia. Monza? unpardonable!!

          2. It is quite sad to see him perform so poorly.. We know he can do it, but does he? Even though the team prefers Hamilton as he says, there is a huge difference between Hamilton and him.. Did Kovalainen speak up because he is leaving the team? With Kimi saying that he wants to be in a winning team, I guess he’s taking his place.. Is this the end for Kovy in F1, it will be sad if it is.. He seems to be promising sometimes but not consistent enough to support a winning team..

          3. Yeah , I agree,.. I have no doubt Kovy was given equal opportunity on many many occasions and as we saw simply could not keep up ..

            This is why I said it was interesting comments, because to me his comments are a little uncalled for, especially now. It is now more likely that he may not be with McLaren in 2010…

    4. Intersting comments? It’s not like McLaren was hiding the fact that they put the new upgrades on their point scoreing driver’s car first. Nor that he sometimes was fasted after “fuel correction”.

      What is interesting maybe is that he now tries to hide behind these facts to excuse his poor performance.

      1. yeah I agree. There is no doubt he underperformed… As everyone says above it is likely his future with the team has been decided

  10. Well i think Hamilton is one of the most talented f1 driver ever,its like watching tyson’s punches.Hamilton will make a mistake like he done when he crushed behind Button and u will think he is finished but watch next race,he will just blow the whole grid away.
    Button may be a champion but he is no match to the likes of Hamilton,Alonso,massa.

    1. no match to the likes of Hamilton,Alonso,massa.



      Sorry Steph :(

      1. Awww why Mp4? :P :( I Would maybe add Kubica to that list.

        1. Actually no answer needed we’ll just see next year mp4 ;)
          Next year is lining up to be a very good season, I think quite a few fans are now just wanting it to hurry up and come.

  11. All I want is a simple safety car-free race now with no overtaking. I will get a full 60 points in the predictions championship then :D :D

  12. there is one thing i am not understanding how will they qualify without refuelling…..can anyone heighlight plse

    1. Like they used to prior to 1994. They will all go out on ultra-light fuel loads during quali as they do now in q1 & q2. The fastest driver will be on pole, no more fuel corrected bull s*** ,will separate boys from men :D

      1. No refueling during race only. Qualifying will be low fuel, fill it up for 2 or 3 laps then back in the garage. From my experience of low fuel qualifying, the fast cars usually stay in the garage until the final moments, so the fast cars will usually be at the front. For the race, they will start slow in a procession with full tanks, then get faster at about 3 quarters of the race distance then its a sprint to the end.

  13. bobo_the_legend
    31st October 2009, 16:11

    lewis is on fire this weekend i will be very annoyed if he doesnt win tomorrow he deserves it !!!!

  14. they will put in race fuel AFTER qualifying. Quali will be on vapors

  15. Vettel going on about the KERS *again* in the press conference. Change the bleeding record.

    Red bull could have used a KERS system this year they just chose not to invest in one to the benefit of their aero package. Vettel starting to annoy me.

    1. Yeah! Give it a rest Vetto! Just hoping that KERS goes out with a bang :D Even Eddie Jordan had something nice to say bout it

      1. Watch Kimi and hopefully kovy make up some good places tomorrow.

    2. Indeed. I just wish that Hamilton would shut him up about that nonsense and explain to young Vettel that he (Hamilton) would have been WDC had he been fortunate enough to drive in that Red Bull being the fastest car.

          1. What is that one supposed to show?

  16. By filling the tank to the brime? It should be enough for a 300km drive…. dont you think so? bvakcha?

  17. Hamiltons a little bit lighter than Vettel who’s the heaviest in the top 10, good lap from him :)

  18. Obscene circuit, really quite vulgar but hay since when did 79 yr olds have a handle on taste.

    Lewis has really matured this season and hes still frighteningly quick but without the hot head streak. Should be fireworks next season, i think this is officially a new “classic era”. Not since Prost, Senna, Mansell have we had such a strong driver line up with Alonso, Lewis, Vettel closely tracked by Kimi,Button, Webber, Massa.

    1. I thought it was just me. Absolutely agree. Vulgar, tasteless display of abject wealth. Of course Bernie and Co. are pocketing heavily from these soulless billionaires parties.
      I really didn’t get why the commentators throughout were cooing about the amazing architecture and fabulous location. But of course they are no doubt staying (on the house) in 7 star hotels with gold lined toilet basins and diamond encrusted loo brush’s.
      Give me a muddy knoll, chips with mayo and a contingent of F1 fanatics at Spa any day.

  19. Both Red Bull said they were surprised about Hamilton’s pace,well the difference is Hamilton is having Mercedes engine & KERS where they have Renault.

  20. youve definitely been to Spa then !! In the top 1 experiences of my life going to Spa last year despite being ****** on all weekend, seeing Lewis disqualified and being stopped by Belgium Wombles doing 120mph!!

  21. Looking through this page after you linked to it on the round up I noticed that you predicted Jenson Button’s move to McLaren in the Q3 bit! ha.

    1. @smifaye Corrected it, thanks.

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