Webber on Pole in Abu Dhabi
It’s only fitting that upon the crowning of 4-peat World Champion Sebastian Vettel, the drivers race for “best of the rest” really kicks off, and today saw the fireworks fly late in the qualifying session as Mark Webber stormed to P1 with the only qualifying time in the 1:39’s. Webber makes this his second pole position of the year, a position that most of the F1 world hopes will elevate him to another win before his career ends in Brazil. Vettel was visibly disappointed following his final lap, and could be seen shaking his head immediately upon crossing the line. After congratulating Mark, Vettel spoke on his position behind his Red Bull teammate in the press conference, “I think I deserved to do a little bit better.”
So far, Abu Dhabi has excited. The practices on Friday saw many drivers, from Chilton all the way up to Raikkonen, spinning and running off track in an attempt to squeeze everything from their cars. Oddly, the tires have been working well compared to last weeks degredation pace in India. The soft compounds have proved to be more than durable enough for a good race stint, but hopefully won’t equate to a dreary one-stopper. If anything, this week the focus will be on the changing track temperatures due to the race starting at dusk and ending in the dark.
Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton will lock out the second row for Mercedes, vying to be “best of the rest.” Rosberg once again looked relaxed and composed on his way to P3, while Hamilton spun on his final hot qualifying lap of Q3. His position was luckily unaffected, but he noted that “something went on the rear.” Both cars were closer to the Red Bulls than in the last few qualifying sessions. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll see some close racing from the Silver Arrows.
Kimi Raikkonen will start on Row 3, followed by Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg. Raikkonen has been having a very public dispute with his Lotus team over payment – allegedly having not received a single cent the whole season. Raikkonen showed up last minute on Friday for the first practice session, and conceded that he was thinking of skipping the last three races of the season if an agreement hadn’t been met. Meanwhile, strong performer Hulkenberg still has not signed a contract for 2014. It is rumored that he and Pastor Maldonado are in contention for Raikkonen’s seat at Lotus for next year.
And now to the big headline. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso did not progress into Q3 for the first time since last year’s race in Valencia (a race in which he won). Alonso will be starting in 11th position with a seemingly uncompetitive F138. Felipe Massa once again out-qualified him, finishing in 8th position. Alonso was on track to have a good qualifying time when a mistake late in his run added crucial tenths to his time. He soldiered on for another hot lap but it wasn’t enough.
Other notable mentions. McLaren’s Sergio Perez bludgeoned Jenson Button’s qualifying speed, ending in 9th position and 13th position, respectively. That makes two world champions out of Q3. Ouch.
Let’s hope for a nail-biter tomorrow morning! Could this be win #10 for Webber? That’d be nice.
Tags: fernando alonso, ferrari, force india, jenson button, kimi raikkonen, lewis hamilton, lotus, mark webber, mclaren, mercedes, nico hulkenberg, nico rosberg, red bull, sebastian vettel, toro rosso