Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying for Sunday’s 55-lap Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as the field looks to wrap up the 2009 season on a high note. Sebastien Vettel is Hamilton nearest challenger as he looks to secure second position in the championship at the new Yas Marina Circuit, while
a number of drivers have their own personal battles to conclude on Sunday evening.
1 . L. Hamilton - McLaren Mercedes MP4-24
“My pole lap wasn’t too aggressive. I was very smooth, and it just kept getting better and better. KERS Hybrid and the engine have been fantastic all season – and today was no exception – but it’s the chassis that has really come good lately and we’ve brought them all together this weekend to create the perfect package. Even more encouragingly, this is all a work-in-progress for next year – and winning tomorrow would be a perfect way to end the season and raise our expectations for 2010. It should be an exciting race – I just want to go out and do the job tomorrow.”
2 . S. Vettel - Red Bull Renault RB5
“I think both Mark and I were surprised by the gap to Lewis. He’s been quick all weekend and the McLaren seems to be generally very strong here. We could see in Q1 and Q2 that it would be difficult to match their pace, so I think this was the maximum we could do today. I’m very pleased so far, it should be a good race. The car is working well here; it just seems that our KERS button, which we have on the steering wheel, isn’t working! But, let’s see. I think we have a good race pace and the car is getting better and better. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
3 . M. Webber - Red Bull Renault RB5
“A good day for the team - I’m happy to be starting near the front of the grid and we have a good chance tomorrow for a strong result. I’m surprised by Hamilton’s time, McLaren have done a very good job, no question about it, and it seems that this track suits them. We’re going to have our work cut out to beat Lewis tomorrow, but we’re going to give it our best shot. I think the KERS gives them a good advantage but, even without that, they clearly have a good car here. But, it’s a long race and anything can happen.”
4 . R. Barrichello - Brawn Mercedes BGP 001
"It was a good qualifying session for us today and I'm quite happy with fourth position and what we have achieved. The car is still very competitive but the Red Bulls and McLarens seem to be ahead of us here. It's been challenging to get the right set-up throughout the weekend as the sessions are taking place in very different track and ambient conditions. The car seems to improve towards the end of the day with the cooler temperatures so we can hope that the track comes towards us tomorrow. It's very close with Sebastian for second position in the Championship and I'll be going to be flat out for the best result."
5 . J. Button - Brawn Mercedes BGP 001
"The car has felt good here all weekend and the first two sessions went well in qualifying today. Unfortunately in Q3 when we were running with high fuel and new tyres, I started to get massive vibrations every time that I hit the brakes which made the steering wheel shudder. With such a smooth circuit any kind of vibration just leads to understeer which made the car quite a handful to drive. It's frustrating as we had the potential for a better performance today and should have been challenging for the first row behind Lewis. Hopefully we can solve the issue before the race and I'm looking forward to a good fight tomorrow."
6 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF109
"It was a difficult session because it was an extremely hard fight in hot conditions; the lap times were really close despite it being a long circuit. I felt I got it right in each session and I am happy with sixth place. It's fun to be fighting at the front of the grid so it was a nice experience again for me. Obviously you always want to be even higher but we have done a good job so far this weekend and we deserved to be in the top six. The car feels strong and I think we are looking pretty good for the race so I'm looking forward to the fight."
7 . R. Kubica - BMW Sauber F1.09
“Unfortunately I missed yesterday’s second free practice session. As a result I had no experience of the track conditions at this time of day. The conditions were completely different compared to the third free practice session. The lower temperatures had quite a big effect on the car’s balance. In the end qualifying in seventh is quite okay and I am optimistic that we can fight for points tomorrow.”
8 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber F1.09
“I think my eighth position is alright. On the last lap there was a small chance to improve, but I had traffic with Mark Webber in front of me, and anyway there is no guarantee this lap would have been faster. If I take the fuel load into account, I’m happy with my grid position although I only really know the fuel load for our cars. The tyres seem to last here remarkably well, which means it could pay off if you stay out for longer. The light from the setting sun was a bit brighter than yesterday, but the circuit is built in such a way that you have to deal with it in only one corner, which anyway is flat. For our last race tomorrow I hope for all of us we can achieve a good result with points for both cars.”
9 . N. Rosberg - Williams Toyota FW31
"The session went okay, I think ninth was around the best we could get out of today, we are definitely struggling on the open sections of this circuit, but points are definitely possible here and very important for us this weekend. From the 5th row and with a good strategy tomorrow, we can stay ahead of BMW in the constructors and I can hold seventh position ahead of Trulli in the driver’s championship. It’s a good track, not easy and very hot but this is also the last race for me with Williams and I want to do the best for this great team."
10 . S. Buemi - Toro Rosso Ferrari STR4
“I was hoping for a little bit better after finishing seventh in Q2, but I am happy with our fuel load which should allow us to be flexible in terms of race strategy. The car feels very competitive, as indeed it has been for the past few races and scoring points is a realistic target for tomorrow.
The visibility is no problem so that should be fine for the race and the track is getting faster every time we go out on it.”
11 . K. Raikkonen - Ferrari F60
“Today we got the most out of the car, but we did not have the necessary performance to make it into Q3. Already yesterday, we realized that it would be tough, so this result is definitely not a surprise. Tomorrow, we will try to do our best, but it’s certainly not going to be an easy race, even though we should definitely be more competitive in the race than in qualifying. What I can say is that eleventh place is better than tenth, given that I will start from the clean side of the track and can choose the ideal fuel load. It will be hard to get third in the Constructors’, because the McLaren is very competitive. We will have to try and get some points and hope for a bit of luck.”
12 . K. Kobayashi - Toyota TF109
"I was hoping to be in the top 10 here but it was my first time in Formula One to qualify in dry conditions, so I needed to get used to it. Free practice has gone well all weekend and the car felt good. Qualifying wasn't easy but in the end I was only a tenth or so away from the top 10 so for my first time qualifying in the dry it's not bad. I have been trying to focus on my race pace this weekend so I am quite confident for tomorrow. I will try my best and I hope to fight for the points again; we'll see what we can do."
13 . H. Kovalainen - McLaren Mercedes MP4-24
"What a disappointing outcome to my qualifying. I got stuck in second gear during Q2 and that was it. I already had minor problems with the gearbox yesterday when it jumped out of gear, so it’s frustrating when you have a car you can easily take into Q3. But I’m looking at the positives: the balance of my car has been good throughout the entire weekend, and it’s been great to drive on this fantastic circuit. You can absolutely guarantee I’ll be giving it my all in the race tomorrow and I’ll be fighting from the first lap to the very last.”
14 . K. Nakajima - Williams Toyota FW31
"I’m a bit disappointed because I didn’t manage to put everything together in Q2, but there was still a reasonable gap to the first ten, so maybe I wouldn’t have made it into the final qualifying session anyway. The track demands that you are precise all the time and one mistake here is costly, which makes it pretty difficult. I don’t think it will be easy to overtake tomorrow, but because of the nature of sectors one and two, we could have a pretty crazy first lap tomorrow, so I still believe anything is possible."
15 . J. Alguersuari - Toro Rosso Ferrari STR4
“Taking into account that I was unable to do any laps this morning, because of a problem with the car, I think my performance in qualifying was quite positive, especially as I was not completely happy with the aerodynamic balance of the car. I was not expecting to make it to Q2 after not running in FP3 on a track that is new to everyone. Looking back at my season, I think that getting into Q2 again shows I am making progress, but I still have a lot to learn. I hope I can have a nice race to end the season tomorrow.”
16 . F. Alonso - Renault R29
“It was disappointing for us to be out after Q1 as obviously I would have liked to qualify higher up the grid. Although the team have done their best to prepare the car, it just wasn’t quick enough to set a better time this afternoon. Tomorrow I will do all I can to get the best result possible in my last race with Renault.”
17 . V. Liuzzi - Force India Mercedes VJM02
"I was pretty happy on the first run of Q1 as the car felt really good and I was confident that we had the pace to get through to Q2. But then after we changed the tyres for the second run we had a strange problem in that the grip was not there any more. It felt weird to drive with so much less grip compared to the run before. Usually the tracks improve as we run more but this was very strange. We should have been in Q2 so we have to understand how this happened - whether it was the tyres or the tyre pressures, we need to work on this now. For sure with a lot of fuel we showed a really good performance yesterday but starting so far back will not make it easy, although in Brazil we did show that we can get very close to the points from this position. It will be difficult but I think 10th will be possible tomorrow, but points are always the aim."
18 . A. Sutil - Force India Mercedes VJM02
"A very short session with a lot of problems. The car didn't seem to have any grip at all, particularly on the rear, and there was just so much oversteer that I was just struggling to keep the car on the circuit. I'm obviously very disappointed and we need to figure out what happened. The focus will now be on the race; there's still a long way to go and of course I will try my best to get a good result."
19 . R. Grosjean - Renault R29
“It was a difficult qualifying session today. We were missing performance but we still hoped to make it through to at least into Q2. We have done as much as we could, but sadly we were out in Q1. For tomorrow, it’s important not to make any mistakes and to finish as high as possible.”
20 . G. Fisichella - Ferrari F60
“We knew it would be tough, but I don’t think we could have expected much more. In the first and second sectors I was reasonably competitive, but in the final one I had a lot of understeer. Tomorrow will be hard, but I know I can manage a strong pace: we will do our best to get a good result. I am disappointed not to have been able to do better in these races with Ferrari as it would be nice to reward the team that has had trust in me, by bringing them some points. It has not been easy adapting my driving style to a car that is particularly difficult to drive and at a time when, more and more, it felt the effects of the ending of its development programme.”