Vettel equals record with 14th pole position

2011 Abu Dhabi GP qualifying

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Sebastian Vettel matched Nigel Mansell’s record of 14 pole positions in a season in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton set a faster lap than Vettel’s pole position time in Q2 but couldn’t repeat it when it counted.

The pair share the front row of the grid for the third time in as many races in Abu Dhabi.


Rubens Barrichello’s poor weekend continued as the Williams driver was unable to set a time in Q1.

This effectively removed any competition over who would be eliminated before Q2 as both Lotuses, Virgins and HRTs were knocked out as usual.

But Michael Schumacher had to make a late return to the track as his place in Q2 briefly came under threat from Heikki Kovalainen. He had to use one of his sets of soft tyres, though he abandoned the lap as it became clear the Lotus wasn’t going to beat the Mercedes.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18Heikki KovalainenLotus-Renault1’42.979
19Jarno TrulliLotus-Renault1’43.884
20Timo GlockVirgin-Cosworth1’44.515
21Daniel RicciardoHRT-Cosworth1’44.641
22Jerome d’AmbrosioVirgin-Cosworth1’44.699
23Vitantonio LiuzziHRT-Cosworth1’45.159
24Rubens BarrichelloWilliams-Cosworth


The Red Bull and McLaren drivers crossed swords early in the session. Mark Webber headed the times early on but he was quickly beaten by Vettel with a 1’38.516.

Hamilton had fractionally more time in hand, beating Vettel by less than a tenth of a second.

But the session was stopped shortly afterwards due to debris on the track. Felipe Massa and Jenson Button had dislodged a bollard at turn eight which sat on the racing line.

When the session restarted few of the front-runners returned to the track with the exception of Massa and Webber.

The two Force Indias made it into the top ten along with the two Mercedes.

Sergio Perez fell short of eliminating Schumacher by three-tenths of a second. He was eliminated along with his team mate, both Renaults and both Toro Rossos – Sebastien Buemi losing time with an off-track moment.

The last driver to set a time was Pastor Maldonado. He could only manage 17th and with a ten-place grid penalty pending he will share the final row of the grid with his team mate.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Sergio PerezSauber-Ferrari1’40.874
12Vitaly PetrovRenault1’40.919
13Sebastien BuemiToro Rosso-Ferrari1’41.009
14Bruno SennaRenault1’41.079
15Jaime AlguersuariToro Rosso-Ferrari1’41.162
16Kamui KobayashiSauber-Ferrari1’41.240
17Pastor MaldonadoWilliams-Cosworth1’41.760


First blood went to Hamilton in the shoot-out for pole position. The McLaren driver set a 1’38.704 and Vettel fell short of beating it by just four hundredths of a second.

It all came down to the final runs and Button briefly interjected himself into the battle for pole position, setting the quickest time with his last lap.

Hamilton took it back by a tiny margin – just nine-thousandths of a second. But his 1’38.622 was almost two-tenths slower than his best time from Q2 had been.

Nor could Vettel beat Hamilton’s Q2 time – but he had enough in hand to claim pole position. His last-second final effort gave him his 14th pole position of the year with a lap of 1’38.481.

He matches Nigel Mansell’s record from 1992, which was set when there were 16 races in a season.

The Ferraris, Mercedes and Force Indias took up rows three, four and five, with Paul di Resta opting not to set a time and preserve tyre life for the race.

Top ten in Q3

1Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’38.481
2Lewis HamiltonMcLaren-Mercedes1’38.622
3Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’38.631
4Mark WebberRed Bull-Renault1’38.858
5Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’39.058
6Felipe MassaFerrari1’39.695
7Nico RosbergMercedes1’39.773
8Michael SchumacherMercedes1’40.662
9Adrian SutilForce India-Mercedes1’40.768
10Paul di RestaForce India-Mercedes

2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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    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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    67 comments on “Vettel equals record with 14th pole position”

    1. Stunning lap from Vettel, never saw it coming.

      1. Usually, this is sarcastic, but this time, he did it after trailing Mclaren in every session, so you’re actually right! :)

        1. not the first time this year.

        2. He always manages to pull something out of the bag.

      2. A really nice one with all cars going out and the top 4 being close behind each other with only tenths between them.

        To be honest, I had a feeling it would come again. It was still the best session ever had in AbuDhabi by a country mile and one of the best qualifying sessions of the year.

        1. It was exciting, no doubt. Just a shame that such an unexciting result came of it.

          1. What a great result and to see Vettes eyes and his blinking only twice during Q3 on his run to the pole. Pretty cool stuff

            1. He looked possessed, really surreal! And looking at the timing board as well, nice touch.

    2. I thought Button finally get the pole in a mclaren…but that was close,hope it will be a good race

    3. What’s up with the Mclaren overalls? blue, yellow, red and black? :P not a nice thing to see, imo!

      Other than that, typical stuff. Vettel got this one from no where.

      1. What’s up with the Mclaren overalls? blue, yellow, red and black?

        yeah I was wondering the same thing.. maybe they trying out new colours for a new livery..

        1. please, no, then!

          I know they’ve been using different overalls this year in qualifying, but this design was just plain horrid!

        2. Part of a Hugo Boss promotion, fans design the outfits of McLaren’s drivers for the qualifying sessions.

          1. Next race they plan to qualify with their grandmas pajamas. I thought the qualifying suits looked superb.

    4. Perez, P11.
      Buemi, P13.

      Alguersuari, P15.
      Kobayashi, P16.

      Both teams are equal on points. Both teams are fairly evenly-matched. But dammit, Vitaly, you couldn’t qualify eleventh to put a Sauber and a Toro Rosso alongside one another, with one of each on the clean and dirty side of the circuit, thereby making things more interesting!?

    5. I was hoping Jenson would take pole, but I had predicted Hamilton. I nearly predicted Seb and now I feel like an idiot for doubting he’d just pop up at the last moment again…

      1. I predicted Seb for pole but I was crazily nervous throughout when it came to that prediction!

    6. How are Nico and Michael able to do a qualify lap of inters? Is that allowed?

      1. They didn’t. I think some people were confused because they saw intermediates on the cars in the pits at one stage, which had most likely been put on after the laps were completed while the other tyres were transferred to blankets.

        1. yes the inters were put on so that cars can sit on them in the pits…

          1. ahh, preserving tires and at the same time practising pit stops.. makes sense.

        2. Thanks Keith. That helps.

        3. Are we sure both Mercedes drivers used softs for Q3? In the commentary it said Rosberg went out on Mediums.

    7. I thought Hamilton had it, more fool me for doubting Vettel. At least he had to work for it this time which made a nice change. One of the better Q3’s of the season.

    8. Lewis couldn’t repeat his Q2 time because the conditions were changing very quickly with fading daylight, so I don’t think Lewis unable to equal his time from Q2 being the reason why Vettel took pole. Nevertheless commendable job by Vettel. How many times has he snatched pole lap out of nowhere or how many times have the McLarens have floundered their chances?

      1. Actually, I think Lewis blew it in the first sector of his last run. He was something like 3/10ths down on Jenson – in a sector which only takes about 17 seconds.

      2. Button and Vettel both improved

        1. Yes but who’s to say that they were pushing as hard in Q2? I’m guessing that they knew that they would comfortably get in to Q3.

      3. Don’t forget, after Lewis’ Q2 time Vettel was on an even faster lap but that got red flagged so he could not complete it. That’s not to say I wasn’t surprised that he took pole, for a second I even thought Button might have it. Overall one of the best Q3s of the season.

    9. I really wanted to see Button on pole, or at least p2. But.. oh well… maybe next time..

      1. Next year*

    10. Couldn’t believe Vettel got it, but congratulations to him. Thoroughly deserved.

    11. Just noticed that it was Massa that clouted the bollard. What is it with him and kerbs ?

      1. Someone in front of Massa knocked the bollard down, ole Massa just knocked it outta the park.

        1. Interestingly,Hamilton was the one knocking bollards in Abu Dhabi last year

        2. In which case, apologies to Felipe.

    12. Looks like McLaren screwed up again. Lewis’s time in Q2 was 1:38.434 which was faster by .047 than Q3 Vettel’s pole winning lap of 1:38.481( Lewis was actually slower in Q3 than Q2.

      And during the final run in Q3, they let Jenson who was .63 seconds slower in Q2 (1:39.097) than Lewis start immediately before him. And then Alonso (who was slots between Lewis and Jenson.

      Even the BCC commentators, who are not fans of Lewis were surprised by the boneheadedness of the McLaren race management.

      No wonder Lewis didnt look happy.

      At least Lewis should have the satisfaction that he has the fastest lap of the weekend!

      Can anyone explain why the team would allow a guy who was more than 1/2 second slower ahead of the guy with the fastest lap of the weekend?

      1. Because Vettel also lost time to Webber for getting out behind Webber?

        This is just trying to find an excuse where there is none.

        Hamilton didn’t deliver.

        1. No excuses! I was questioning why McLaren would do that?

          The BBC commentators the guys who actually have done some racing , contrasted the Red Bull tactics favorably with McLaren’s boneheadedness.
          I guess that would answer your comments about the gap between Vettel and Webber.
          I suggest you replay the tape and listen again!

          1. actually, DC said it was a cheeky move by Alonso. The downside to being at the opposite end of the pit exit s that any cars can “jump” in front of you. If you watched, Sutil jumped in front of Webber, which seemed in poor form as he was going to really go for it and he’s in front of a car that was. It was almost the same for Vettel as he’s coming down the pit lane and several cars came out, though they did let him pass first.

            1. *s = is
              *any cars = any car
              *he was going = he wasn’t going

              doh ;)

      2. Notice the same thing. Mclaren screwed up again, releasing Hamilton at the wrong time. On the second sector he was too close to Alonso at the end of the straight.
        This kind of things happened the whole season. Really don’t like Withmarsh’s management.

      3. Because going out later means a faster lap? He was far enough behind Alonso to not be in dirty air

        1. There must be a reason why Vettel is always the last one on track. Why do you think? And how come Red Bull can get him to be the last man on track every single race and Mclaren cannot?

          1. Better timing I guess – not much else I can say other than that.

            1. Thats my point! Better brains at the Red Bull consoles!

      4. Normally track conditions improve as the session goes on because more rubber is laid down, so going out later would be an improvement.

        Simple observation of standard practice at recent races would make that obvious, before you start spouting outlandish conspiracy theories and conjecturing about the preferences of the “BCC commentators”.

        1. Oh Keith, where is my outlandish conspiracy theory? Can you show me where I said that the whole world is against Lewis?

          And I agree that “Normally track conditions improve as the session goes on because more rubber is laid down, so going out later would be an improvement.”

          That was exactly was the point of the BBC crew. And the Red Bull is nailing it every race after race for Vettel.

          The Mclaren crew cannot seem to do it either for Lewis or Jenson.

          And with all due respect, dont you think that David Coultard, Martin Brundle and Eddie Jordan know what they are talking about?

    13. Once again a sneaky but great pole by Vettel

      Im beginning to think Vettel getting Pole by small margins on occassions like Hungary,Spa,Malaysia & quali today,occassions that McLaren had a car capable of Pole Positions is due to him being out on the track after the other contenders for Pole

      Cars with more downforce(McLaren,Ferrari & Webber in these cases) tend to lay more Rubber(Grip).I just dont understand why other teams dont McLaren & Ferrari dont send their drivers out last,it can easily gain them an extra tenth or two.

      1. Then how do you explain the poles Vettel won by setting a time before everyone else. How many times have we seen Vettel claiming pole with his first run.

        Also, Vettel was ways off of the rest and as Button said the track changed after the little break between Q2 and Q3 so I don’t think Vettel got an advantage by being last out on track.
        If anything it was a disadvantage with the track cooling as fast as it did.

        1. “If anything it was a disadvantage with the track cooling as fast as it did.
          That’s pure conjecture!

          1. Why. Because you don’t agree?

    14. “Im beginning to think Vettel getting Pole by small margins on occassions like Hungary,Spa,Malaysia & quali today,occassions that McLaren had a car capable of Pole Positions is due to him being out on the track after the other contenders for Pole”

      Better brains at the Bed Bull consoles! Hope Sam Micheal would bring some sense in to McLaren.

      1. Jesus mate, how about you try opening both eyes! Some interesting comments by you on here, to say the least.

        Strategy, management, team personnel etc etc etc – thats fine, but the driver is the main variable in setting a competitive qualifying time to the best of his ability. Vettel seems to have the ability to do that better than Lewis, and everyone else for that matter.

        How about you try blaming Lewis…….logical explanation given the variances between the q2 and q3 times dont you think?

    15. This was a great qualifying in my opinion. Q1, with Schumacher struggling, Q2, with Perez, Di Resta, Sutil and Schumacher battling, and Q3 with Button, Hamilton and Vettel was great.

    16. Good Evening Mr. Mansell … that was a nice one from Red Bull Pits…..

      I am sure Mr. Dietrich Mateschitz watching from the Aphine mountains must be one happy man. I would’nt be surprised if he pull in Adrain to start a Sports Car Company :)

    17. anyone notice that if he gets pole in the last race of the season he will get up to 5th place in the percentage of poles in one season list …overtaking a certain JM Fangio !!!

      there’s a name to conjure with !!!

    18. Once again, the United Church of Hamilton is out in force.. I’m yet to see the argument about ‘fastest qualifying time’, but I’m sure it’ll pop up eventually..

      A superb lap by Vettel, never doubted him for a second.. Apart from when I predicted Hamilton for pole.. Darn it!

      I just hope there’s no big controversies in the race with Hamilton, he’s in with a good chance of winning tomorrow…

    19. So possibly for the first time ever, we’ll have TWO Williamses on the back row of the grid. On one of the hardest tracks on the calendar for overtaking.

      Words fail me at this point.

      1. I only hope that the part of the problems are due to their efforts to come back much stronger next year. And I hope they sign some one new. :)

      2. It is so sad…!

    20. Nigel did 14/16, didn’t him? However, Seb still can make 15/19! Wow!

    21. Hi, check the footage of MSc pulling into the pits at the end of q2. He’s on inters. Weird?

    22. didn’t see P1 from Vettel coming AT ALL, not going to lie. poor lewis (hoped a pole would cheer him up some more?), but end of day didn’t deliver when it mattered. should be a fascinating race for tomorrow! my eye is on Jenson and Nando!

    23. I wonder if Kimi Raikkonen was watching qualifying. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when he realised Williams would start the race from 23rd and 24th … though admittedly, they’re there becuse of mechanical problems. And I got the distinct impression that Pastor Maldonado was just cruising so as not to burn his tyres, knowing full well that eleventh place was (theoretically) the highest grid place he could start from.

    24. Another great qualifying session, good job by Daniel Ricciardo he is fighting for the seat in the STR hard,nice to see both the Mercedes & Force India in the top 10,Vettel just pulled it out when it matters,will be a exciting race today,watch out for Massa VS Hamilton.

    25. Not a bad qualifying session. The last few minutes were brilliant. Seeing Vettel hold back for clean air was good. I don’t think Button or Hamilton really impeded each other but it shows just how Vettel is able to relax a little more under pressure.

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