Webber tops Vettel for Abu Dhabi GP pole
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (SportsNetwork.com) - Mark Webber claimed the pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after edging his Red Bull teammate and new four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel in Saturday's qualifying.
Webber, who is in his final year of F1 competition, made a lap around the 3.5- mile, 21-turn Yas Marina Circuit in 1 minute, 39.957 seconds for his 13th career pole, including his second this season, which came three weeks ago in Japan.
"I think this weekend so far has gone pretty smoothly," Webber said. "I'm happy with the pole. It was a good lap at a track which in the past has not been super and invigorating for me in terms of layout. I'm really looking forward to the race (on Sunday)."
Webber has not won a grand prix since July 2012 in Great Britain. After this season concludes, the Australian is joining Porsche's new sports car program in the Le Mans 24 Hours and World Endurance Championship in 2014.
Vettel's lap was 0.118 seconds slower than his teammate. He is attempting to win his seventh consecutive grand prix, which would make him just the fourth driver in the sport's history to accomplish that feat. His fellow German compatriot, Michael Schumacher, most recently won seven races in a row in 2004. Vettel's victory in the Indian Grand Prix last weekend allowed him to clinch his fourth straight F1 title.
Red Bull also wrapped up the constructors' championship in India. This will be the fourth grand prix this season that both Red Bull drivers start on the front row.
"I think it's a great result for the team," Vettel said. "Mark did a very good lap, so congratulations to him. I think I should have done a little bit better, but I don't know if it would have been enough. He deserves to be on pole. He did a good job, no mistakes. We should have a strong race tomorrow."
Vettel won the first two Abu Dhabi GPs -- 2009 and '10. He finished third in last year's race.
Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton qualified third and fourth, respectively. Hamilton experienced a mechanical issue with his car and spun around during his final lap in Q3.
"Something gave way on the right-hand side of the car," Hamilton said. "I was going through the chicane, and all of the sudden, it just snapped out. I tried to pull away, but it wouldn't move. Something's busted."
Kimi Raikkonen had finished fifth, but the Lotus driver was later excluded when his car failed a post-qualifying floor deflection test. Raikkonen, the defending Abu Dhabi GP winner, will have to start Sunday's 55-lap race from the back of the grid. Lotus argued that floor damage caused by track curbing led to the failure.
F1's governing body, the FIA, said in a technical report that "Car number 07 did not comply with Article 3.17.5 of the 2013 FIA Formula One Technical Regulations as the front floor deflected more than 5mm vertically when the load was applied vertically to it at the point which lies 100mm of car center line on the LHS (left-hand side)."
Nico Hulkenberg from Sauber moved up to the fifth starting position, followed by Raikkonen's teammate, Romain Grosjean, Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez from McLaren. Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo will start ninth.
Fernando Alonso, who is currently second in the championship point standings, failed to advance into Q3 for the first time this year. The Ferrari driver will start 10th due to Raikkonen's disqualification.
11/02 17:52:43 ET