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Sebastian Vettel beats Lewis Hamilton to Abu Dhabi pole

Highlights - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport at Yas Marina

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel denied McLaren's Lewis Hamilton pole position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a devastating final lap.

The German's feat saw him equal Nigel Mansell's all-time record of 14 pole positions in a season, set in 1992.

McLaren's Jenson Button starts on the second row, ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

Scot Paul di Resta chose not to set a time in final qualifying and will line up 10th for Force India.

Vettel pride at Mansell record

McLaren had dominated every practice session at the Yas Marina circuit but, as he has done so many times this season, Vettel found some vital extra pace when it counted.

When asked if he had dug deep to claim his 29th career pole, Vettel answered: "Oh yes.

"Lewis looked very strong all weekend so it was good that we were able to be that little bit quicker than him.

"I wasn't happy with the car (on Friday). This place is tricky in many ways. It's not easy to get it right all the time.

"I think it'll be a long race. Lewis and Jenson will be very quick in the race. I'm confident, and ready."

Vettel adopted his usual tactic of being the last man to emerge from the pits in the final minutes of qualifying.

He pushed his Red Bull round the visually stunning Yas Marina circuit, brilliantly lit up by floodlights as darkness finally fell on the twilight session, and beat Hamilton's benchmark by 0.141 seconds.

I'm happy to be on the front row and to not have any penalties is a blessing for me.

Lewis Hamilton

"At the end that was as far as I could get out my lap," said Hamilton, who actually did a lap in the second qualifying session that would have put him on pole had he repeated it.

"It wasn't a great last lap, the car was understeering a little bit. The one I did in Q2 was better but it's been a good couple of days.

"I'm happy to be on the front row and to not have any penalties is a blessing for me."

Button was just 0.009secs adrift of Hamilton's time but said he had struggled for balance all weekend.

"We know the pace is in the car and it was finding the right balance," Button said. "I've not felt 100% comfortable all weekend.

"Q3 was very strange as there was less grip, the circuit was cooler and the car was acting differently."

Ferrari, Mercedes and Force India, who have upped their game as they aim to secure sixth place in the constructors' championship, shared the next three rows.

Jenson Button
McLaren were fastest in all three practice sessions but lost out to Vettel in qualifying

Alonso's prediction that he would start on the third row came true as he finished half a second off Vettel's time fifth. His Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa was sixth, but more than 0.6secs slower.

Nico Rosberg qualified in seventh ahead of team-mate Michael Schumacher for Mercedes, while the two Force Indias of Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta slotted in in ninth and 10th.

It was a straightforward Saturday for the rest of the field even though the second phase of qualifying was halted when a bollard was knocked over at Turn Nine.

Rubens Barrichello was the unluckiest driver out there as his Williams's reliability problems got worse.

An engine change and a subsequent oil leak hampered his practice on Saturday and stopped him going out in qualifying.

The Brazilian, who said it was "a must" for him to stay in F1 for a 20th season in 2012, was unable to set a timed lap and dropped out in the first stage of qualifying.

"It's been a hard weekend and I can't remember doing so few laps over a weekend," said Barrichello. "I will just try to enjoy myself as much as I can on Sunday."

Pastor Maldonado qualified 17th for Williams but joins Barrichello at the back after he received a 10-place grid penalty for taking a ninth new engine - one more than the eight allocated to each driver for the season.

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see also
Abu Dhabi GP qualifying as it happened
12 Nov 11 |  Formula 1
Hamilton buoyed by Alonso praise
11 Nov 11 |  Formula 1
Hamilton heads Button in practice
11 Nov 11 |  Formula 1

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