Red Bull Racing's double world champion will start on pole position for the 14th time this season, after pipping the McLaren drivers in qualifying.
Vettel equals record by taking Abu Dhabi Grand Prix pole
ABU DHABI // Jenson Button may be cultivating a bristly moustache this Movember, but it was Sebastian Vettel who was on Saturday drawing comparisons with Nigel Mansell, Formula One’s most famous mustachioed driver.
Red Bull Racing’s 24-year-old German secured his 14th pole position of the season at Yas Marina Circuit to equal the British world champion’s record, set in 1994. Vettel will start Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the front of the grid for the second time in three stagings of the UAE capital’s showpiece motorsports event.
“Brilliant, Mr Mansell,” said Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, to his young charge after Vettel clocked the fastest lap of the afternoon on his final lap in qualifying. The newly-crowned double world champion posted a time 0.141 seconds quicker than McLaren-Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
“When I crossed the line I was looking up towards the monitor,” Vettel said. “I didn’t know the times, but I got [informed of] the pole on the radio and was obviously very pleased. It was difficult and we weren’t sure about it, so we were positively surprised.”
With both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles wrapped up already, Vettel was asked if Mansell’s record was the focus of the Red Bull team’s attention on Saturday. “Because everyone – not us – talks about it, you are aware of it,” he said. “He obviously had two races less to achieve the same, but still it is something very special. It’s a great feeling, for sure. It’s been a fantastic year and it’s not over yet, so I’m looking forward to the race.”
Hamilton, who has started on the front row in both previous races on Yas Island, looked set to convert his team’s domination in practice into pole position but Vettel pipped him at the very end. The 2008 world champion, however, remained confident ahead of Sunday’s 55-lap contest.
“It would be nice to have had pole position, but that Red Bull, as always, is very quick in Q3,” he said. “Still, we’ve got our car to a point where it works particularly well on certain tracks, and we always seem to go well here.
Hamilton, who saw his race in India last time out wrecked when he was handed a three-place grid demotion, added: “I’m happy to be on the front row and to not have any penalties is a blessing for me.”
Button, Hamilton’s teammate at McLaren, finished third fastest. “It’s obviously not perfect and we’ll need to challenge from behind,” he said. “But third isn’t a bad place from which to start – hopefully we can get one over on the Red Bulls.”
The season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix will take place in two weeks time, allowing Vettel the opportunity to secure the pole position record for himself.
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Qualifying times for Sunday's race
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1min 38.481sec
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.622
3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.631
4 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1:38.858
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:39.058
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:39.695
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:39.773
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:40.662
9 Adrian Sutil Force India 1:40.768
10 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes (No time)
11 Sergio Perez Sauber 1:40.874
12 Vitaly Petrov Lotus Renault 1:40.919
13 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1:41.009
14 Bruno Senna Lotus Renault 1:41.079
15 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1:41.162
16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:41.240
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1:41.760
18 Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus 1:42.979
19 Jarno Trulli Team Lotus 1:43.884
20 Timo Glock Virgin Racing 1:44.515
21 Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1:44.641
22 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin Racing 1:44.699
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT 1:45.159
24 Rubens Barrichello Williams (No time)
Race day schedule
10.30am Gates open
12.10pm Porsche GT3 Challenge Middle East race
1.30pm GP2 Final race
2.45pm Porsche Supercup race
5pm Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix