Rosberg keeps Hamilton from pole for title decider

2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

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Nico Rosberg denied Lewis Hamilton the pole position for tomorrow’s championship-deciding race between the two Mercedes drivers.

Hamilton set the pace in the first two parts of qualifying but small mistakes on both his runs in Q3 presented Rosberg with an opportunity which he did not waste – and strengthens his chance of taking the title.


Hamilton headed Rosberg by a tenth of a second in an uneventful first part of qualifying. The Mercedes pair, like several of their rivals, opted to use the super-soft tyres which they do not expect to need in tomorrow’s race.

Both Ferrari drivers were still in the drop zone with four minutes to go, but made it through into Q2 after late improvements. Fernando Alonso said he was held up by Daniil Kvyat at the pit lane exit – the Toro Rosso driver reported he hadn’t seen the Ferrari coming.

The Caterham duo were eliminated in Q1 as usual on their return to F1. Newcomer Will Stevens was last, half a second down on team mate Kamui Kobayashi, but believed he could have gone much quicker on his last run.

“I was nearly a second up going into turn 17 but I lost the rear and lost all the time I’d gained,” he explained on the radio. “The rear is a limitation.”

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Romain GrosjeanLotus-Renault1’42.768
17Esteban GutierrezSauber-Ferrari1’42.819
18Pastor MaldonadoLotus-Renault1’42.860
19Kamui KobayashiCaterham-Renault1’44.540
20Will StevensCaterham-Renault1’45.095


The first sign that the championship contenders might be feeling the pressure of the title fight came in Q2. Rosberg braked a fraction too late for turn eight, spoiling his first run. Meanwhile Hamilton became the first driver of the weekend to dip under the 1’41 mark.

Rosberg’s second run left him half a second off his team mate. At the end of the session the two Williams posted improved times which split the two Mercedes.

McLaren’s progress was less straightforward – both drivers returned to the pits without setting times on their first runs. Jenson Button was unimpressed when told he needed to top up with fuel, asking “are you serious?”

Button took sixth when he finally set his first time, which bumped the other McLaren of Kevin Magnussen down to ninth place. Kimi Raikkonen edged Magnussen by three-hundredths of a second, and when Daniil Kvyat grabbed a place in Q3 it left Magnussen’s session at an end.

Jean-Eric Vergne and Sergio Perez also missed the cut by less than a tenth of a second.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Kevin MagnussenMcLaren-Mercedes1’42.198
12Jean-Eric VergneToro Rosso-Renault1’42.207
13Sergio PerezForce India-Mercedes1’42.239
14Nico HulkenbergForce India-Mercedes1’42.384
15Adrian SutilSauber-Ferrari1’43.074


It was Hamilton’s turn to slip up when Q3 began. Rosberg was the first to set a time, lowering the best to a 1’40.697. Hamilton reported a tyre vibration after joining the circuit, but in the final sector he was on course to get close to Rosberg’s time until he ran wide in between the two final corners.

That left Hamilton second behind Rosberg ahead of their final runs, with the Williams pair and Daniel Ricciardo within a few tenths of a second.

A slight lock-up on his final lap didn’t prevent Hamilton from improving his time. But his final effort was still over a tenth of a second of Rosberg’s first lap – and his team mate then lowered the bar even further for good measure.

A 1’40.480 secured pole position for Rosberg by almost four-tenths of a second, but even so he felt concerned Hamilton might take it from him at the end. When race engineer Tony Roos coolly informed him of his 11th pole position of the season, a wound-up Rosberg told him “you’ve got to stop with that Tony, seriously! Be more enthusiastic, please!”

Hamilton’s slip-up opened the door for Williams, but neither driver was able to take advantage, denying Rosberg a vital advantage ahead of tomorrow’s title-deciding race. The pair occupy the second row of the grid, followed by the two Red Bulls.

Top ten in Q3

1Nico RosbergMercedes1’40.480
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’40.866
3Valtteri BottasWilliams-Mercedes1’41.025
4Felipe MassaWilliams-Mercedes1’41.119
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull-Renault1’41.267
6Sebastian VettelRed Bull-Renault1’41.893
7Daniil KvyatToro Rosso-Renault1’41.908
8Jenson ButtonMcLaren-Mercedes1’41.964
9Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’42.236
10Fernando AlonsoFerrari1’42.866

2014 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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71 comments on “Rosberg keeps Hamilton from pole for title decider”

  1. I missed it but did Hamilton improve on his second run. If so my next question, why wasn’t his first lap disallowed?

    1. Yes he improved, but only by a tenth.

    2. Yes he did improve with a bit over a tenth I think but Bottas didn’t beat his first time anyway so it didn’t matter. The stewards are more lenient this year with going off track in the penultimate corner, otherwise Rosberg’s pole lap should’ve been disallowed as well.

  2. I think this shows Rosberg sets up his car for quali. Lewis sets up his car until it’s ‘good enough’ and will adapt quickly to different amounts of fuel and tire usage in the race. I still expect Lewis to come out on top tomorrow.

    1. Unless Hamilton takes the lead at the first corner I have a hard time seeing him really going for the win, the last thing he needs is another Spa-incident.

      1. Actually if they collide and both retire …Lewis wins the WDC… I’m sure it’s rosberg who will be more worried about a collision

        1. @puneethvb, that might actually not be true.
          Rosberg loses WDC if both retire, but also if Hamilton finished directly behind him.
          If they collide then that will give Rosberg a small chance that only he can continue and win the WDC. Or he gets a small moral win if Hamilton is seen as to have caused an incident in which both retire.

          In other words I think Rosberg will go all out, and will try to lure/chase Hamilton into making a race ending mistake.

    2. @paeschli
      Actually, their setups are for the most part, very similar. In Suzuka for instance, they had an identical setup. It was raw driver skill which allowed Rosberg to be 2 tenths faster on Saturday, and allowed Lewis to be much faster in the race on Sunday.

      Rosberg is just plain faster over one lap, pretty obvious to see after this season.

      1. @kingshark

        You are right imagine you’re idol Alonso probz be 19-0 lol. Lets be honest though there is not much diff. 3 times this year Hamilton could not set a lap through no fault of his own. Also Ham edged it last year in qually so they are both very close their as not been huge gaps between them look at Canada and Singapore where both barely beat eachother. Is not like Ham is regularly getting crushed in qually isit.

      2. Its not that clear cut, there have been a few mishaps for Lewis that cost him, be it glazed brakes, brake failure, engine burning. And a few mistakes from him like locking up, giving up on a lap. All these cloud the picture of who is fastest over a lap. You could say Nico is more consistent in his qualy laps than Lewis but in terms of pure speed Lewis still has it.

        1. Denial alert!

    3. What it shows is Hamilton choked in qualifying again, it was full of errors, just like the past few q3s – he is the quicker driver ususally, but is the most prone to errors. but all Hamilton now has to do is finish 2nd, but I still suspect a twist in the tail considering hamiltons 2007,2008 and 2010 campaigns in which he choked in all 3 at the end. maybe massa will run into the back of him at turn 1, that would make me laugh.

  3. Just saw Ted’s interview with Boulier. Man, I can’t say anything nice about that. That was a poor effort. Jenson beat Kmag fair and square. If you are going to push someone out at least admit when they did a good job. I have no respect for that. It speaks to me of someone who is happy to be underhanded.

    “Kmag would have been well into the top ten”… Yeah, sure, but he wasn’t. Button was. If the points tally doesn’t tell him that Button is quick enough, then maybe he shouldn’t be making the call.

    1. Nothing new…. Thats how they have treated Jenson this whole season. I am just beyond pissed and disgusted with Ron and Eric….. This is what a driver of JBs caliber gets after 15 YEARS in the sport and still being at the top.
      Karma is a biatch. Hopefully they get to experience that next year. They would be deserving it…..

    2. Yes, but given Button’s years of experience, it would be pretty embarrassing to be out-right beaten by a rookie wouldn’t it!

      1. Yeah true, but but Button not being fast enough was the justification I’ve heard for Boulier not wanting Button.

        1. Yes. Jb obviouly had to win the qualifying battle today to prtruly prove his worth… I mean, it’s not like he has twice as many points as said rookie…..and is (14-4) in races.
          They can spin it any way they want to; this wasnt about who the better driver is. It’s just politics…. Entirely relying on Alonso(being paid by Honda) and get the cheapest option available in the second seat….

          1. It is not about who is the better driver this year – or in 2009. It’s about who will be the better driver in 2015 and 2016.

          2. and that driver is in your opinion KMag? Let’s be completely frank here… We both know that that is utter bullocks. I reckon Kevin will be out of seat next year when they’ll bring in Vandoorne… Way more potential, way faster, way younger…

          3. Vandoorne is older than Magnussen – and he got beat by Magnussen last year in Renault 3.5.

          4. He did beat him, beat he certainly wasn’t faster than him and Stoffel seems to have gotten a great deal faster this year. He was also not as mistake prone, IMO. All in all, while he showed potential here and there, Kevin did not live up to the expectations and hopes. He is not going to get magically faster over time, nor will his race craft improve all that much. He may make less mistakes(which, considering how many he makes now, is not that difficult at all), but that’s about it. If you wanna back the future and the potential of McLaren, that seems to have clearly shifted towards Vandoorne….

            PS. My bad, you are right. Kevin is the one who is a couple of months younger. Remembered it the other way around.

          5. @lexblair, not sure how you can say that a rookie does not get faster or his racecraft improves over time.

            Take for instance Button. In his Rookie year he was beaten by Schumacher who got double the points (not the WDC Schumacher, but his younger brother with only 2 years more experience than rookie JB)!

          6. @coldFly Indeed; and did he set the world on fire the following year? Nope; We were talking about next year- Kroon saying that the decision was made based on who is going to be the better driver then…. Logic and history dictates that a magical improvement shouldn’t be expected(especially if the said driver was so far behind….) over the winter—-I just dont see it as realistic; thus I am very much backing my original point: politics and money. (Not that it is a new thing in F1…) Don’t get me wrong, it’s not even about them chosing Kevin over Jense; I can see how it would be a good choice! (Dennis will always remain a businessman first and foremost.) It’s they way McLaren is being led this past year(ironically since Ron took over) is what I find ridicolious. All the big talk with no game; just pretentious B S….The way Jenson was treated by Ron and Eric is just simply disgraceful. He was publically “shamed” left and right and then this whole debacle for next years line-up was just cherries on top…. You simply don’t treat a former WC with 15 years in F1 and still at the top of his game like that…. This man; who is one of the most universally loved F1 race driver on the grid; is going race his final F1 GP of his life today and he wont even get a proper/or any kind of/ send of. It’s extremely sad and shameful, IMO. He deserves better.

          7. Yuck, I should refrain from commenting when I am mobile. Sorry for that;)

      2. Not half as embarrassing as being a 4 time world champion being thrashed by a new team mate.

    3. You fail to vector in the fact that Magnussen is a rookie and has never driven on many of the tracks before.

      Same with Kvyat and Vergne. They pick Kvyat when Vergne is obviously doing better. it’s the potential in the driver for next season that they go for.

  4. Hamilton cracked again… I thought he keep it together today. I still think he’ll have the upper hand come race time. I don’t believe Rosberg is doing himself any favours with his comments to the press, he’s trying to bait Lewis but he’s not biting, he’ll leave that for the race.

    Wishing for a Rosberg title
    Expecting a Hamilton title

    1. What did rosberg say to the press?

    2. Hamilton has “cracked” a lot less often than Rosberg over the season though. Only his car “cracked” more.

    3. Clearly you don’t believe Nico can just win quali, without anything negative happening to Lewis.

    4. “Hamilton cracked again…”

      I guess you missed the bit where Rosberg messed up in Q2 run with a lockup and had to do another on the same set of tyres that he has to use on his first stint for the race tomorow.

      They both made mistakes, Rosbergs could actually end up being more costly, yet people only focus on Hamiltons…..figures.

  5. Monte-Carlo, Montreal, Spielberg, Silverstone, Hamilton just rolled it again.

  6. 4 tenths quicker? good lap sure, but maybe that setup would hurt him in the race

    1. I don’t think its the setup. Lewis made mistakes in turn one, run very wide so lost .2 there then locked up and lost another tenth in the middle sector. And after running so wide and losing .4 in the last sector I think he just wanted not to be out-qualified by the Williams at this point.

  7. I just don’t understand the ‘brilliance’ of Nico’s tactics here.

    If he was really smart as everybody love to say, he would let Lewis take pole and pressure him from behind.

    That would put the chances of a title in his own hands because Williams can’t challenge Lewis.

    But maybe he just can’t trust his own speed in a straight fight against Lewis along an entire race…

    Nico asking for favors from Williams having strategy options at his disposal is embarrassing for me.

    1. What part of deliberately missing pole position and giving your main rival track position sounds “brilliant” to you? Especially considering that in Mercedes, the lead car gets the optimal strategy and first call.

      Letting Lewis take pole position would be beyond stupid for Nico, especially considering that 8 times out of 10, Lewis is faster than him in the race, and therefore will simply pull away.

      1. It depends how you think about it.

        If Rosberg leads from the front then all he can do is win the race and hope that something else happens to Lewis that is down to luck.

        If Lewis is in the lead Rosberg can at least attempt to put pressure on him forcing him into a big mistake, push him to the point he breaks something on his car or if he so desires something a bit more underhand.

        Rosberg has more things he can influence if he is behind Lewis than in front, neither are ideal for him, neither really matter to Lewis.

        I am fully expecting Rosberg to try something like forcing Lewis off the track into T1 so he drops back into the pack.

        1. Well Rosberg was quicker than Lewis in Bahrain and Spain, he didn’t seem to pressure Lewis into making any mistakes so why would he think he can do that now.

          1. I completely agree with you but the fact is he can influence more events to turn things in his favour from behind than he can in front, no matter how remote the chances of those things occurring are.

          2. What if it backfires and Lewis goes 5s ahead of him. Lewis’ race runs were very quick.

          3. Again I agree with you. But surely it is worth that risk? It still gives him chances to influence things himself where as if he leads from the front there is nothing he can influence.

    2. Being second is being closer to the first corner incidents, you don’t want that to happen. Like any other racing driver he wants to be in the best possible position to win tomorrow. A nice quote from the great Ayrton Senna: I am not designed to come second or third

    3. What a strange comment. If Rosberg were to make a poor from 2nd start, he may be behind the Williams and effectively the WdC would be over.
      Lewis is almost always faster than Nico in the race, there’s no way, if Nico is behind, he will suddenly put Lewis under loads of pressure tomorrow.

    4. That’s an awfully weird assessment. I’d say it would be far better to be able to dictate the pace and allow the Williams to close on him.

      1. It is not a strange assessment at all if you think about it:

        Nico is pole, the things he can now do to influence the outcome of the championship are:

        – win the race.
        – take Lewis out IF he actually tries to overtake (if he doesn’t try to overtake then this is now off the list too)

        Trying to hold Hamilton up and force him into the Williams is not an option as Lewis will just end up overtaking Rosberg as the car is so dominant.

        If Nico is in P2 he can:

        – Put as much pressure as possible on Lewis forcing him into a mistake
        – Put as much pressure as possible on Lewis that could potentially make him cause a reliability issue
        – Take him out

        This is also not a great situation either as we know that Lewis is usually faster than Nico in a race, but if he really wants the championship then he needs to pull something out of the bag and show that he has what it takes and isn’t just a 1 lap specialist.

        There is no scenario that can offer much chance to Nico but having more things that are within his influence in some way is better than just driving off into the sunset and relying on nothing but luck which is what he is now going to have to do.

        1. Thanks!


        2. I am of the opinion that pole gives Nico all of the high ground in pitstop scenarios , for one he can control the pace of the race itself by backing up the field if needed , he gets to choose the optimum pitstop strategy if he maintains the lead , if there is a safety car Nico gets first call and a ill-timed safety car could be Hamilton most dangerous adversary this weekend , if there is a need to double stack the Mercedes what’s stoping Nico from forgetting where his first gear is until he can get a car or two between himself and Lewis. What if a another car can get close enough or Nico can back the field up enough, that Mercedes have to cover the undercut from say a Williams , Nico would get priority but he could cunningly abort his stop at the last second and take it the next lap causing Lewis to run a extra- extra lap and vulnerable to the undercut of the drivers on fresh tyres . And now the out of position Red Bulls could pose a problem for lewis in the pit stop scenarios , What if in the first round of stops the Williams undercut the Mercedes Nico cover and arrivers on track losing time but still in front of the Williams and closely followed by two long stopping red bull , Lewis stops but loses out because of badly worn tyres and arrives on track behind the Red Bulls all because of track position

    5. Hi Becken! Is it you from F1 around? If so, I have to say, its really nice to see you around here!!!

    6. ‘To finish first, first you must be second.’ That’s not actually a saying, you know.

      1. @Matthew Coyne While I take your point about NR being in second and thus being able to pressure LH into a mistake, I find the risk of NR then seeing LH just pull off into the sunset, or at least not being pressured, too great, and your notion of him taking LH out, like he is of that, and could/would do it intentionally and without consequence, disturbing.

  8. Wow just watched onboard footage of nico’s pole lap. Beautiful! Inch perfect and right on the edge. Great to watch, that last sector is very tricky to get it right.

    1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend
      He did lock-up on that lap, but it was good still.

      1. @supremacy bro please go back and watch it before shooting your mouth. There was no lock-up! Jeez….

  9. How come that Williams are so slow in practises and so fast in quali?

    1. Lots of fuel.
      Engines turned down.
      Bodywork fell off.

  10. I think its better for Lewis to start second. He can control things from there. Starting first maybe is a risk since Nico will take risks to win the race.

    1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend
      He did lock-up on that lap, but it was good still.

  11. Imagine this, Mclaren hire Vandoorne who has done great in GP2 and in the other car Alonso. Alonso gets beaten by another McLaren rookie again :P

    1. I’m actually hoping Vandoorne gets the other seat. I read Dennis said in an interview that they have 4 candidates for the seat, so it’s not completely out of question, although still highly unlikely.

      1. Why can’t Mclaren re create Super Aguri and put Magnussen and Vandoorne in it? That would be perfect

        1. At this notice, they would be using Renault engines. Imagine that – Honda funding McLaren funding a Renault powered backmarker team as a holding station for their development drivers…

  12. Think about it. If you were Hamilton would you want Rosberg up your back end going into turn one..

    *cough cough spa cough cough*

    1. That’s almost a certain race exclusion for Rosberg. Stewards aren’t that dumb.

      1. Aren’t they.. Where were they during spa!? It’s going to be tense whatever happens! (:

    2. Lewis should just stay put in second.

      Given that Nico is slower anyway, staying 2nd for him should be a breeze.

  13. Cannot help but chuckle over the spirited ” who is quicker over and single lap discussion? ”
    The Hamilton camp so staunchly making excuses for every tenth of a second difference between Nico and Lewis are the same folks who last season assured us that Lewis would DESTROY Nico in 2014.

    Yet here we are…


    1. Fortunately the only thing that matters is who will be F1 WDC 2014?

      1. And the inaugural Pole Position Trophy winner ;)

    2. Rosberg amazing in quali this year, no doubt. Respect. LH though, comically better in nearly all of the races. If he does not win the championship, it will be a huge travesty.

  14. It looks like this race will be very exciting.

  15. Oh well… All these comments..
    I do not commend much.. In fact at all.. almost.. :)

    So.. Let’s see something else..
    Hamilton vs Rosberg for the championship..
    If all goes according to plan, it will be his championship. Mercedes has no real opposition when it comes to race pace, Hamilton will be much faster and will get by or jump Rosberg in the pitstop and finish first in class or he will not be faster and will cautiously finish second and get the crown…. Strangely though many things can go wrong..
    I suspect you have all forgotten what a Dry Start can do to an F1 Race!! What if Massa looses his braking point and brings the Lewis-magnet with him this time?
    I am not afraid of Lewis making a mistake, he has done that too many times in the past and he should know better.. If he does then he should not win it.. What you ALL forget is that THIS is the LAST race of the LAST set of PUs!! Reliability is my main concern for tomorrow. And reliability does not owe anything to anyone.. It can happen to anyone at any time.. And the later we get in the race the worst it will get.. It can strike directly (aka Hamilton ) or indirectly someone else parking at the wrong place at the wrong time for the safety car to deploy..
    As for Rosberg, he has done half the job to give himself some real chance for tomorrow.. Being second (as many suggest he should be in order to apply pressure to Hamilton) means you have to start a few meters behind the guy in front AND on the dirty side of the track, meaning that 3rd can jump you easier than you can jump 1st..
    And he has to finish ahead of Hamilton. Given the circuit they are, 1st is the best place to be in the start line in order to finish ahead of anyone else at the end of the race..
    As for reliability, it’s the same for him as anyone else.. And it doesn’t seem to be anyone on the grid to have a magnet for him at home :)
    The fact is that in 5 years no one will remember the guy that lost it (apart from Lewis’ or Rosberg fans) no matter the double points rule or the 10 vs 5 wins Hamilton has against his teammate or the more Poles Rosberg has..

    Pressure is on the Hamilton side. He is in front point wise, he “only” has to finish second, he “should” be better than his teammate in race pace AND he has HIMSELF to watch out for as well cause “he is here to win same as any weekend”. He has to keep an eye on Rosberg , not driving on him again or forcing him out as “the point” Rosberg made in Spa was meant for that kind of situation, and he has to make sure he gets a clean start because getting jumped by a williams will add even more pressure on him..He also has tasted far more reliability issues than Rosberg so he is more afraid that will happen again .
    Rosberg on the other hand feels great having won in Brazil, even greater having “destroyed” Hamilton in Qualy by this year’s terms at least, “feels” luckier as he is 5 wins down this year but only 17 points away, has nothing to loose more than what he already looses and has communicated that last part very well to Hamilton..

    So.. Mind game VS Real game VS Reliability VS Luck … GAME ON!!

    PS. Whoever claims that this Mercedes domination is as boring as RedBull’s, forgets that Webber was always treated like a #2 driver and very seldom posed a real threat to Vettel..

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