Hamilton Earns Abu Dhabi Pole

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton captured his sixth pole position of the season on Saturday. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Starting Lineup

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton will start at the top of the grid for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after a dominating lap time of 1 min 40.630 seconds raised him to the top of the charts to record his sixth top podium start of the season.

Hamilton controlled the proceedings for much of the weekend, and carried that momentum over to qualifying, where he led in each of the three segments. Even though the McLaren driver is a massive 75 points behind the leader in the championship standings, his performance puts him as the favorite to break Red Bull's streak of supremacy over the last four races. The Brit also celebrated his 25th pole position as a McLaren driver, and was overjoyed by the performance of the car over the last few days.

"I'm very excited, very excited," Hamilton said. "It's the first time for a long time to be ahead of the Bulls and not to be seeing the tail of them at the start of the race, but I know that it's going to be - as always - very, very tough in the race because they've got great race pace, but I hope that we are strong enough to fight them.

"The team have done a fantastic job all weekend; the car has felt beautiful all weekend. I don't know why the car works so well here, we've not really made any improvements to the car since the last race so I guess it just suits the track. The guys are still massively focused so I hope that tomorrow's a good day for us."

Red Bull’s Mark Webber qualified in second place and will start on the front row alongside pole sitter Hamilton.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has been excluded from Saturday’s qualifying results for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after the stewards found his car did not have sufficient fuel onboard to comply with the rules and regulations.

The German stopped out on track at the end of Q3, after being told over his radio to pull over at the side of the circuit following advice from engine supplier Renault. Vettel, who had qualified in third behind Webber and pole-sitter Hamilton, will now start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from 24th and last on the grid.

Although the FIA stewards accepted that Vettel had stopped due to reasons of ‘force majeure,' there wasn’t enough fuel in his RB8 to provide a one-liter sample in post-qualifying scrutineering, as required by the sport’s technical regulations.

“The stewards heard from the driver and team representatives and studied telemetry evidence that showed the reason why the car was stopped,” explained the FIA in a statement. "The Stewards accepted the explanation and considered the incident as being a case of force majeure. However a report was received from the Technical Delegate that showed during post-qualifying scrutineering an insufficient quantity of fuel for sampling purposes. The Stewards determine that this is a breach of Article 6.6.2 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations and the Competitor is accordingly excluded from the results of the Qualifying Session. The Competitor is however allowed to start the race from the back of the grid."

Williams driver Pastor Maldonado’s solid outing during Q3 pushed him up to third place, ahead of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen in fourth and McLaren’s Jenson Button who will start in fifth place.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso could only manage a sixth-place start, which puts him at a slight disadvantage with regard to his title aspirations. Alonso trails Vettel by a narrow 13 points with three races to go in the championship, and a poor finish on Sunday could damper his chances of holding another Formula One trophy. However, the spirited Spaniard remains full of confidence and will push his hardest until the last checkered flag of the season.

"Usually, Saturday is the day we suffer the most, while on Sunday things always go better ... Let’s hope that will also be the case this time,” Alonso said. “It’s also true that with so little tire degradation, the strategic choices are much more limited and so too the opportunities to make up places. We know that in the three remaining races, we must score 14 points more than Vettel and that is our one and only objective.”

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg will start in seventh place, ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Mercedes driver Nico Hulkenberg who rounded out the top 10.

With 75 points still up for grabs in the championship, many drivers are still in the hunt for the trophy in what had been a tremendously challenging season for all the teams. Even through Vettel and Alonso look to be the favorites to earn the gold, three more challenging races are upon them and as we have all learned throughout this season, anything can happen in any given race.

Related Topics:

Formula One, Lewis Hamilton

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