Mark Webber beat Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel’s time right at the end of qualifying yesterday to take pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The veteran Australian is competing in his final season in Formula One and still looking for his first win of the tear. He will look to end Vettel’s run of six straight race wins today.
Vettel, who has already clinched his fourth straight F1 title, had taken pole in four of the past five races.
Mercedes start on the second row, with Nico Rosberg ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who span his car in the closing seconds.
“Something broke at the rear of the car,” said a disappointed Hamilton, who has twice previously taken pole at the spectacular Yas Marina circuit.
It proved a terrible afternoon for Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who failed to make Q3 for the first time this season and starts from 11th on the grid.
Webber equalled the Australian record of 13 poles set by Alan Jones, who was celebrating his 67th birthday yesterday.
“Fantastic guys, thank you for a fantastic job,” said Webber on the Red Bull team radio.
Ferrari-bound Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus was fifth ahead of German Nico Hulkenberg of Sauber with Frenchman Romain Grosjean seventh in the second Lotus.
For Raikkonen it was a satisfying riposte that demonstrated he retains the upper hand in a team riven by controversy following his threat to boycott the last two races this year because he has not been paid.
Brazilian Felipe Massa, who is leaving Ferrari to make room for the Finn, was eighth fastest — and outpacing teammate Alonso for the eighth time this year — ahead of Mexican Sergio Perez of McLaren and 10th placed Australian Daniel Ricciardo of Toro Rosso, who will drive for Red Bull next year
Earlier, Vettel posted the fastest time in the third and final practice session.
In a repeat of the top three places from Friday’s second practice run, the German driver beat Webber and Hamilton.
Vettel’s time of 1 minute, 41.349 seconds was .222 quicker than Webber and .231 clear of Hamilton, who won on the Yas Marina circuit two years ago and has twice taken pole.
Marussia driver Jules Bianchi misjudged his entry into turn two and span his Marussia across the track, onto the grass and thudding into crash barriers. The Frenchman climbed out and was unharmed.
Force India driver Adrian Sutil also struggled and was 17th best.
“The car is just so bad, I don’t know what’s wrong here,” the German said over race radio. “I got everything; I got understeer, I got oversteer.”
Additional reporting by staff writer