Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Qualifying

Tyre compounds for this weekend are the Pirelli medium (white) and soft (yellow).
PM has a 10 grid-spot penalty waiting for him (because he’s had to use a new engine)
McLaren was fastest in each of the practice sessions
Air temperature 26°C; track 31°C; wind 3.1m/s; humidity 41%

Qualifying 1
5 cars rush onto the track straight away: BS, VP, PM, SP & SB
3mins in to Q1 and all bar 2 cars are on track – just JB & RB in the pits still
JA 1:43.895
MW 1:41.816
LH 1:41.414
SV 1:41.268
MW 1:40.936
LH 1:40.661
10mins gone = half way through Q1; RB is still in the garage
JB 1:40.227
MW 1:40.167
LH 1:39.782
BBC report RB will do just a 3-lap run at the end of Q1
5mins left; bottom 7 are HK, DR, TG, JD, VL, JT, RB
4mins left; RB still sitting in the car in the garage – he’s running out of time to get a flying lap
2mins left; bottom 7 are HK, JT, TG, DR, JD, VL, RB
RB is out of the car, so he’ll be on the back row of the grid (assuming the stewards allow him to race)
Chequered flag; HK, JT, TG, DR, VL, JD, RB
Back of the grid will be: HK, JT, TG, DR, JD, VL, RB (but remember PM’s 10 grid-spot penalty has yet to be applied)

Qualifying 2
Floodlights are on as the natural light fades
JA & SB first on track, followed by 5 more
Even the front-runners are on the soft (option) tyres in this session
JA 1:41.423
SB 1:41.098
Pit-car radio for MS telling him his target time is 1:40.5
MW 1:39.209
SV 1:38.516 – that’s faster than LH’s fastest time in Practice (1:38.976)
LH 1:38.434
(MS posts 1:40.5, as requested)
Red flag – someone hit a bollard so now there’s debris on track
Session restarts with just under 9mins left of Q2; FM first on track
Pit-car for FM setting his target time at 1:39.5
FM leaps across the kerb where the bollard used to be – wonder if the stewards will have words?
(FM 1:39.623)
Replay shows FM completely airborne, so technically he was off the track and his time should be disqualified
PD clips the kerb, which throws him towards the barrier but he keeps the Force India out of the wall
2mins left; bottom 7 are SP, SB, JA, VP, KK, BS, PM
FIA report that RB’s Williams had an oil leak
(PM is 6.5secs off the pace; he has that penalty waiting for him, so maybe he’s just putting his tyres through a heat cycle?)
Chequered flag
Middle of the grid: SP, VP, SB, BS, JA, KK, PM* (*with the 10 grid-spot penalty, he’ll be on the back row tomorrow)

Qualifying 3
Top 10 shootout is between LH, SV, MW, FA, JB, NR, FM, AS, PD & MS
JB first on to the track
NR is on the prime (medium) tyre – is he settling for P10?
JB 1:39.013 – he lost the tail a little in the final turn
LH 1:38.704
(FA P3)
(FM P4)
(MW P2)
(SV P2)
Everyone’s back in the pits for a splash of fuel and new tyres
All 10 cars on track for a final run
Chequered flag
JB 1:38.631
(FA P5)
LH 1:38.622
(AS P7)
(MW P4)
SV 1:38.481
(MS P8)
Front of the grid: SV, LH, JB, MW, FA, FM, NR, MS, AS, PD (PD didn’t set a lap time)
That means SV has equalled Nigel Mansell’s record of 14 pole positions in a season

Provisional grid: SV, LH, JB, MW, FA, FM, NR, MS, AS, PD, SP, VP, SB, BS, JA, KK, PM*, HK, JT, TG, DR, JD, VL, RB(?)
(*PM has a 10 grid-spot penalty)
(?RB did not set a qualifying time so will have to wait to see if the stewards will allow him to race)

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