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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying primer

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Ahead of today's Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying session to decide the grid for tomorrow's, Graham Caygill explains the format.

How it works

The qualifying session, which starts at 5pm, is split into three parts in order to work out the starting slots, from No 1 to 22, in the 55-lap race at Yas Marina Circuit.

Qualifying 1

The opening stage lasts 20 minutes and all drivers must set at least one competitive lap time in the session. The slowest six are eliminated and start from 17th to 22nd.

Qualifying 2

The remaining drivers go back out for a 15-minute session. Again, every driver must set a time to have a chance to progress, with the slowest six going out.

Top-10 shoot-out

The remaining cars get a 10-minute period in which the fastest man in the session will claim pole position for the race, and the top 10 are decided in order of the quickest lap times.

Tyre choice

Drivers in the third session must start the race on the tyres used when they qualified. The soft tyres are quicker for one-lap pace, but degrade quickly. The medium compound has longer duration, but less grip.

The experts

Sebastian Vettel, who already has secured the world championship, has claimed seven poles in 2013. His Red Bull Racing teammate Mark Webber has one. The Mercedes-GP pair Lewis Hamilton (five) and Nico Rosberg (three) are the only other men to have started at the front this year.