Qualifying at the Yas Marina Circuit
As Q1 starts, we look back at the excitement that the Yas Marina Circuit has provided in the past. It may not be the most physically exciting race but Abu Dhabi has proven to be the deciding race in either constructor’s title or driver’s title. 2012 will be no different. If the pair of Red Bull driver’s do their best, the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will wrap up the race for the Constructor’s title.
Possibly trying to prove to his team that he is the driver to pair Nico Hülkenberg next year or to his fans that he’s just been in a ‘slump’, Kamui Kobayashi was first out on track in Q1. With Sergio Perez being signed to McLaren, it was only a matter of time before Sauber found a replacement. As there were no rumours surrounding Sauber’s choices, it was quite a surprise when the news broke that they signed Hülkenberg.
Five minutes left of Q1 and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel kissed the wall as he came out of Turn 19, nearly ending his qualifying run. Not a good thing when his team is pushing for the title this weekend.
A few laps later, and the Red Bull sister team, Toro Rosso nearly lost one of their driver’s to the wall as well. Jean-Éric Vergne lost the rear of his car heading into the turn, looking directly into the setting sun. Vergne managed to save himself and avoid the wall.
As the flag fell on Q1, the stewards said they would investigate an incident between Sergio Perez and Bruno Senna after qualifying. Without seeing what has happened, there is no way to know if there will be a grid penalty.
As qualifying moved on and through Q2, the sun began to set. As each driver set a new quickest time, it seemed as though McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was right behind them, having none of it and taking the position back. Q2 ending with Hamilton keeping P1 to himself.
Darkness fell completely as the Top Ten Shootout started and Kimi Räikkönen wasted no time getting out on the track first, trying set an unshakeable time and get his first pole since his return to Formula One. While he set a benchmark with a 1:41.7, it wouldn’t take long for his time to be beaten.
As if to prove a point, Hamilton completely blew Räikkönen’s time out of the water with a 1:40:630, going more than a second quicker than the Lotus. With Sebastian Vettel taking pole in Abu Dhabi every year since his debut, Hamilton was pushing to stop that streak.
With nearly six minutes left in Q3, surely Hamilton’s flying lap time was going to be broken? As the cars crossed the checkered line, each driver failed to do so. Lewis Hamilton was able to abort his final lap as his time set with 5:56 seconds left of Q3. Not one of the nine driver’s were able to beat his time.
Q3 ended and as both Hamilton and Webber made their way into Parc Ferme and all heads turned to see why Vettel had not crossed the line. Vettel had stopped the on track underneath the hotel between turns 18 and 19. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner stated:
“During the slow-down lap following the final run of Q3, Renault instructed to immediately stop Sebastian’s car on the circuit due to an issue with the fuel system.”
Four hours later, we saw a surprise (and anger among many fans) as Sebastian Vettel was handed a major penalty (possibly title disrupting). Disqualified from qualifying but allowed to take part in the race. Vettel had stopped 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.
In a statement, the FIA explained:
“The Stewards initially 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.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner stated:
“After speaking with the stewards, who accepted the situation of force majeure for technical reasons for the car to be stopped, unfortunately, for reasons yet to be fully understood, 850ml of the required one litre was pumped out of the car following post-race checks.
“As a result, the FIA has excluded Sebastian from qualifying and we will withdraw the car from Parc Ferme in order to investigate further. Therefore Sebastian will start from the pit lane for tomorrow’s race. We will need to make the most of Mark’s strong front-row grid position and Sebastian will have a busy evening ahead of him.”
For the first time this season, there has been a tie for the fan’s choice to win!
|Lewis Hamilton||P1 Fan’s Choice To Win|
|Fernando Alonso||P6 Fan’s Choice To Win|
|Paul di Resta||P12|
|Pedro de la Rosa||P22|
|Sebastian Vettel||Pitlane Start|
Q1 107% Time 1:48:601
Note – Vettel originally qualified in third, but was excluded for failing to return to the pits under his own power and supply a fuel sample.