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Downbeat Mark Webber promises fight to the flag

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina, 12-14 November
Race: 1210-1515 on BBC One, Red Button, online and Radio 5 live sports extra

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel

Highlights - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Abu Dhabi

A downbeat Mark Webber promised to fight until the flag after qualifying fifth for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver, who goes into the race second in the championship, must finish ahead of leader Fernando Alonso to have a chance of winning the title.

But with Alonso qualifying third behind Webber's team-mate Sebastian Vettel and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, the Australian has it all to do.

"It is disappointing but there is still a long way to go," said Webber.

"I need to finish ahead of Alonso but if I don't finish I don't win the championship either. The script is impossible to predict tomorrow."

It was one of the first times this season that I looked at the pit board and said: 'I really can't do that time.'

Mark Webber

Asked how much he still believed in winning the title, he said: "Quite a bit. It's not handed out yet. If it was a one-lap race maybe not so much but it's a two-hour race. Things can change."

Webber admitted that he had struggled compared to Vettel and did not look for excuses.

He said: "This track is a bit of an oddball in terms of how the tyres work and that was the case tonight. I didn't have the performance in myself or the car.

"It was one of the first times this season that I looked at the pit board and said: 'I really can't do that time.' Most of the time I can react and get back in the fight but tonight I couldn't do that.'

"I didn't expect to be fifth, I expected to be further up but that's where I am. The crucial session didn't come together for us but in the end if I was on pole I'm still not world champion.

Mark Webber

Fat lady hasn't sung yet - Webber

"Tomorrow will be the day when it all happens. I'm perfectly positioned to capitalise on any misfortune, pit-stops, safety-cars, I can get amongst any of it.

It's not like he [Vettel] is 25 seconds down the road and I've forgotten how to drive. I would have loved to have had some victories of late but in the end I have not got them because I have not deserved them.

Vettel, whose grid-topping time was more than half a second faster than Webber, was delighted with his 10th pole of the season.

"It couldn't be better," he said.

"It was a tough qualifying session. At night the temperatures drop quickly and yesterday we were not 100% happy in the second session, but I think we made a big step today, which allowed us to fight for the pole.

Hamilton, who himself retains a very slim chance of taking the title, was pleased to be much more competitive than was the case in Brazil last week.

1 ALONSO 246pts
2 WEBBER 238pts
3 VETTEL 231pts
4 HAMILTON 222pts
If Alonso wins or is second, he is champion
If Webber wins, he wins the title if Alonso is third or worse
If Vettel wins and Alonso is 5th or worse, Vettel wins the title
If Hamilton wins, Alonso must fail to score, Webber be 6th or worse and Vettel 3rd or worse for Hamilton to win the title

"Today is a much better start to the weekend for us," he said.

"The team have done some great things improving certain parts of the car and it has enabled us to be much more competitive.

"We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So we are quite chilled and quite happy. I'm just here enjoying myself."

Alonso, who goes into the race eight points clear of Webber, 15 ahead of Vettel and 24 ahead of Hamilton, insisted he was in a very strong position.

"I pushed on the limit and third place is great," said the Spaniard.

"It was a good qualifying for us, and we just need one more day in perfection."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner acknowledged Webber had not made things any easier for himself.


"It's a shame for Mark he's not further up the grid," he said.

"Unfortunately for Mark it just hasn't come together for him. It looked like the second [flying] lap was probably the optimum lap, Sebastian got the job done on that lap, unfortunately Mark has just lost out to Jenson by less than a tenth.

"We need a good start tomorrow, it's going to be a fascinating race. The job for Sebastian is to get his head down and get on with it, Mark has to get past Alonso, he certainly can't afford to finish behind him.

"So we need good pit work, good starts. We know we've got a good race car. The degradation on the option tyre, the soft tyre, is going to be the key factor, and it's something we looked pretty good at yesterday, so it's going to be a long race."

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see also
Alonso wants Hamilton to win race
13 Nov 10 |  Formula 1
Vettel storms to Abu Dhabi pole
13 Nov 10 |  Formula 1
Abu Dhabi GP qualifying as it happened
13 Nov 10 |  Formula 1

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