Hamilton takes pole for Abu Dhabi GP

  • By Chris Lines Associated Press
  • Saturday, October 31, 2009 10:45am
  • SportsSports

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton put in a stunning final lap in qualifying Saturday to claim the pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton was trailing the Red Bull drivers entering his last lap, but then circled the new Yas Marina circuit in 1 minute, 40.948 seconds to beat Sebastian Vettel by more than six-tenths of a second.

“It was a great lap, I would say the best lap I have done all year,” Hamilton said. “Winning tomorrow would be a perfect way to end the season and raise our expectations for 2010.”

The pole is the 17th of Hamilton’s career, putting him second among active drivers, one behind Fernando Alonso.

Vettel’s teammate, Mark Webber, will start from third, and the Red Bull pair believe they may be the stronger team during Sunday’s 55-lap race.

“Both of us were a little bit surprised by the gap,” Vettel said. “We will see later when we get the strategies. I think it was the maximum he could do.”

Just behind the Red Bulls were the Brawn GP cars of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button. It was the first time both Brawns had been in the top five since the race in Valencia, Spain, indicating there was no easing off after having claimed the drivers’ and constructors’ championship.

In the third qualifying session “I had massive vibrations,” said Button, who had looked to be Hamilton’s main challenger for much of qualifying. “Every time I hit the brakes the steering wheel was shuddering.”

The next three positions will be filled by Toyota driver Jarno Trulli and BMW Sauber teammates Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, who are all expected to be starting next season with new teams.

McLaren’s joy at Hamilton’s pole was reduced marginally by the disappointment of Heikki Kovalainen’s gearbox failure. The Finn qualified in 13th, but will receive a five-place grid penalty for the gearbox change.

Ferrari was underwhelming again, with Kimi Raikkonen just missing out on the third session and qualifying in 11th, while Giancarlo Fisichella qualified last, showing no indication of coming to grips with the Ferrari after his late-season switch.

Alonso qualified in 16th, setting himself a difficult task of scoring points in his final race for Renault.

After Saturday qualifying; race Sunday

At Yas Marina Circuit

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Lap length: 5.554 miles

(Car number in parentheses)

1. (1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz FO108W, 198.066.

2. (15) Sebastian Vettel, Renault RS27, 196.766.

3. (14) Mark Webber, Renault RS27, 196.552.

4. (23) Rubens Barrichello, Mercedes-Benz FO108W, 196.436.

5. (22) Jenson Button, Mercedes-Benz FO108W, 196.231.

6. (9) Jarno Trulli, Toyota RVX-09, 196.222.

7. (5) Robert Kubica, BMW P86/9, 196.039.

8. (6) Nick Heidfeld, BMW P86/9, 195.367.

9. (16) Nico Rosberg, Toyota RVX-09, 194.909.

10. (12) Sebastien Buemi, Ferrari 056, 194.663.

11. (4) Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 056, 198.503.

12. (10) Kamui Kobayashi, Toyota RVX-09, 198.402.

13. (2) Heikki Kovalainen, Mercedes-Benz FO108W, 197.998.

14. (17) Kazuki Nakajima, Toyota RVX-09, 197.675.

15. (11) Jaime Alguersuari, Ferrari 056, 196.623.

16. (7) Fernando Alonso, Renault RS27, 196.666.

17. (21) Vitantonio Liuzzi, Mercedes-Benz FO108W, 196.6.

18. (20) Adrian Sutil, Mercedes-Benz FO108W, 196.287.

19. (8) Romain Grosjean, Renault RS27, 196.12.

20. (3) Giancarlo Fisichella, Ferrari 056, 195.671.

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