Sunday, November 3, 2013

Webber Outruns Vettel in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying

Photo Credit: Infiniti

For Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel, the 2013 season has already been successful. Following victory at last week's Indian Grand Prix, Vettel has become a four-time Formula 1 World Drivers' Champion and awarded his team enough points to secure a fourth manufacturer's crown. The acclaimed 2013 Formula 1 champion, Vettel and the #1 car attends the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with more relaxation than the 21 other cars. With contentious point fights still in play (including a tight second place constructors' championship battle between Mercedes AMG and Ferrari), the Yas Marina Circuit in the United Arab Emirates will provide some tense on-track action.

Sealing his fourth consecutive drivers' title, anyone expecting the German driver to relax his pace for Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying would be sorely misguided. In Q3, Sebastian Vettel posted a 1 minute, 40.075 second lap around the 5.554-kilometer track. An impressive time that eclipses his 2009 lap record, Vettel would not be the polesitter for Sunday's main event. Cracking around the Yas Marina Circuit in 1 minute, 39.957 seconds, the Red Bull-Renault of Mark Webber is receiving the preferential first place spot. After a pole drought for much of the 2013 season, the Australian Webber is ending his tenure at Red Bull Racing with two poles in the last three races.

Behind the all-Red Bull Racing front row starting the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Mercedes AMG team has filled the second row. By more than 8/100th of a second, Nico Rosberg claimed the advantage over Lewis Hamilton. Having speed through late spring to summer of this season, the factory German race team has been scrambling to regain their once dominating qualifying pace. Only four points ahead of Scuderia Ferrari heading into this weekend's event, Mercedes AMG has shown a stronger hand in qualifying. Felipe Massa posted a time on Saturday equating to a seventh place starting effort for Sunday. Fernando Alonso just missed making the 10-car pack in Q3. 

The fifth place starting spot of the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix underwent a post-race change with the exclusion of a well-known figure. Reigning winner of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Kimi Raikkonen will be forced to the rear after his Lotus-Renault E21 car failed a floor deflection test. The failure was caused when a part broke on-track causing the floor to flex more than allowed by Formula 1 rules. Lotus F1 Team principal Eric Boullier commented on the race team's website saying, “No advantage was sought or gained in the incident and the relevant part has been replaced". Raikkonen will have to start 22rd Sunday. Lotus F1 Team's second car driven by the recently hot Romain Grosjean will be promoted to sixth behind Nico Hulkenberg. Hulkenberg's fifth place effort in qualifying with a Suaber-Ferrari race car is also consistent with a meaningful late season effort on the Formula 1 tour.       
Racing for 55 laps Sunday around the Yas Marina Circuit, the 2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix operates later in the day than most Formula 1 races. Starting at 5pm local time, the result is an 8am race in the Eastern time zone.

2013 Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Starting Grid

1 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
2 1 Sebastian Vettel  Red Bull Renault
3 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
4 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
5 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
6 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
7 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
8 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
9 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
10 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
11 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
13 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
14 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
15 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
16 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
17 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
20 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
22 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault

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