Abu Dhabi qualifying as it happened

Text and video highlights of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi GP at Yas Marina, where Lewis Hamilton will start on pole.

4 November 2012 Last updated at 11:49 GMT

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As it happened

  1. 1458: 

    As always, thanks very much for your company and contributions. You've been wonderful. I need to dip these fingers in a bowl of ice cold water after that fast and frantic final qualifying. Until tomorrow morning, it's a very good afternoon from me. Bye!

  2. 1455: 

    So I'll be back tomorrow at 1130 GMT to begin building up to what could be a thrilling Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Don't forget, the race will be live across the BBC. All of the coverage, that's TV, radio and live text commentary, is available here.

    Tune into BBC One from 1210 and Radio 5 live from 1300. There's TV highlights on BBC Three and BBC HD at 1900 should you miss the live stuff - though I don't know why you would...

  3. 1452: 

    It's also worth keeping an eye on Andrew Benson's Twitter feed and the BBC Sport website to find out the impact of Sebastian Vettel's stoppage out on track at the end of the session.

    Could we see the reigning world champion sent to the back of the grid for an infringement? Now that would certainly spice the championship battle up.

  4. 1448: 

    And talking of Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champion believes his former team-mate Fernando Alonso, a two-time world champion with Renault, is a better driver than reigning double world champion Sebastian Vettel. Check out the Formula 1 pages to find out why.

  5. 1444: 

    One final word from Lewis Hamilton before I depart: "It's always such a nice view when you start from first. You have to appreciate it because there are not many opportunities to do that in Formula 1. It would be fantastic to do that [win for the team before he leaves for Mercedes]. The guys have worked so hard. My decision has been difficult for all of us so to finish on a high would be such a blessing. To be able to get pole today is something that I can give them back."

  6. 1439: 

    Here's Andrew Benson's qualifying report which rounds everything up nicely. Keep an eye on the website later this afternoon for a video highlights package plus all the analysis and reaction. There's also Inside F1 with Lee McKenzie at 1845 GMT on the BBC News channel.

  7. 1435: 

    It's all looking rather tasty for tomorrow's grand prix with Lewis Hamilton on pole and Mark Webber second, ahead of championship leader Sebastian Vettel. The latter was forced to stop out on track and will have a nervous wait to find out how serious the problem is. That disappointment will be tapered somewhat by the fact his main rival Fernando Alonso is back in seventh.

  8. 1432: 

    Ferrari's Felipe Massa was disappointed with his eighth place in qualifying. "Not good [qualifying] we expected fifth or sixth," he said. "The track is important here. McLaren were not on pole in the last race and the Red Bull were by a big margin so the track counts for a lot. We had some different parts on Fernando's car because he is better on the data. I hope we will be competitive in the race."


    Stuart Bell on Twitter: "A good pole position for Hamilton, gonna have those Red Bulls breathing down his neck though."

  10. 1430: 

    Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen continued his remarkable consistency this season by qualifying fifth fastest overall. "It was pretty good," said the Finn. "It was the best the car has been all weekend. We have a good chance for the race. For me, the tyres were good from the first lap. The car has been good and I'm looking forward to the race."


    McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh: "Lewis [Hamilton] has always been strong here. The car's not bad but he's been doing a great job this weekend. I'm thrilled for him and thrilled for the team. We'll keep our feet on the ground though ahead of tomorrow but it's a really great job by Lewis. We just want to win the race now, Lewis really likes this circuit so we'll see if we can go out and win the race. Jenson [Button] struggled in this qualifying and with your teammate doing well it can be intimidating so we'll see what happens tomorrow."


    Fernando Alonso, who starts seventh: "We were not competitive today. I'm happy with my performance. We struck the maximum. We did a 1:41.5 in Q1, a 1:41.5 in Q2 and a 1:41.5 in Q3. Normally, the pace improves for Sunday so let's hope we can recover some pace."

  13. 1425: 

    Fernando Alonso will start four places behind title rival and championship leader Sebastian Vettel, but the Spaniard believes he got everything out of his car in qualifying...


    Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, who starts third: "I dont know why I had to stop, I was asked to stop. It's probably some problem. It shouldn't be something major. This morning wasn't ideal not being able to run. Nevertheless, we were settling in quite well, the pace was there. McLaren, in particular Lewis, are pretty quick and were out of reach today. I'm not entirely happy with the last part of qualifying. It was quite tricky for me. I should have been a little quicker. I think we can be happy overall. The race pace should be good tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it."


    Red Bull's Mark Webber, who starts second: "Credit to Lewis and McLaren - they have a quick car and we've been bumped off the front row for the first time in a while. We did the best we could, it was a pretty smooth qualifying and we're still a long way up the grid. There's a little bit of friendly fire going on which we need to tidy up. Seb's still involved in the drivers' championship and there's the constructors'. The car is working pretty well on Sundays but Lewis and JB have done some pretty strong long runs as well."


    McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who starts on pole: "I'm very excited. It's the first time for a long time to be ahead of the Bulls and starting at the front. It's going to be tough in the race and I hope we are strong enough to fight them once again. The car's felt beautiful all weekend but we've not made any improvement since last weekend so I guess it just likes the track and hopefully it will continue to like it tomorrow."

  17. 1420: 

    Time to hear from the top three drivers...


    Williams driver Pastor Maldonado, who starts fourth: "We have shown all weekend that we are quite competitive. I did my best in qualifying. The car was there, I'm happy for the team and happy for myself. I'm happy for tomorrow. We need to look at ourselves. Point will be important for us. I will push at the maxmium and we will see. I think we have strong pace and are competitive like the top teams."

  19. 1417: 

    It was a brilliant qualifying for Pastor Maldonado who qualified fourth. The Venezuelan has struggled to recapture the form he showed in Spain when he won the race from pole. His qualifying performances have since been encouraging but he's failed to transform that into points on Sunday.


    McLaren's Jenson Button, who starts sixth: "It was not very good. All weekend, the car has been very good. The pace has been there but in qualifying I had too much lap time. If I knew why, we would have sorted it out. We will look at it when I get back. Obviously the car is quick, Lewis is on pole by quite a bit. Most of the weekend, I've felt happy. I don't know where that has has gone. We just about got into Q3 as well."

  21. 1413: 

    While Lewis Hamilton grabbed pole by more than two tenths of a second, his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button struggled somewhat and finished sixth fastest of all...

  22. 1412: 

    Regarding Sebastian Vettel stopping out on track, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: "There was a request that came from the engine ranks, but at moment I have no idea why."

  23. 1410: 

    Here's how they finished:

    1) Hamilton 2) Webber 3) Vettel 4) Maldonado 5) Raikkonen 6) Button 7) Alonso 8) Rosberg 9) Massa 10) Grosjean

    11) Hulkenberg 12) Perez 13) Di Resta 14) Schumacher 15) Senna 16) Kobayashi 17) Ricciardo

    18) Vergne 19) Kovalainen 20) Pic 21) Petrov 22) Glock 23) De la Rosa 24) Karthikeyan

  24. 1407: 

    Lewis Hamilton climbs out of the lap and skips towards the weighing area. The 2008 world champion has been in high spirits of late and has been on it all weekend here in Abu Dhabi.

  25. 1406: 

    Sebastian Vettel has stopped out on track just underneath the Yas hotel. We understand that he was told to do so by his team.

  26. 1405: 

    It was a dismal session for Fernando Alonso who finds himself back in seventh, ahead of Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and Romain Grosjean.

  27. 1404: 

    What a thrilling end of the session, eh? Sebastian Vettel couldn't beat his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber or McLaren's Lewis Hamilton who took his sixth pole position of the season.

    Brilliant stuff from Pastor Maldonado, too, who will start fourth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button.

  28. 1403: 


  29. 1402: 

    No he can't! For the first time in his career, Sebastian Vettel will not start on the front row in Abu Dhabi. The Red Bull driver will start third, behind Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber.

  30. 1402: 

    Terrible scenes for Ferrari as Fernando Alonso can't improve and stay sixth overall but all eyes are on Sebastian Vettel. Can he snatch pole position of Lewis Hamilton?

  31. 1401: 

    Kimi Raikkonen goes fifth fastest which bumps Fernando Alonso down another place to sixth. Mark Webber, meanwhile, improves to second overall. Decent stuff from the Red Bull driver.

  32. 1400: 

    Absolute crikey. Pastor Maldonado delivers a remarkable lap to go third fastest overall, behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel but ahead of Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso.

  33. 1359: 

    Nico Rosberg has set his one and only flying lap and packed up for the session with a couple of minutes remaining. The German is fifth fastest overall, with everyone else still out on track.

  34. 1358: 

    Felipe Massa is really attacking this track, but he's locking the tyres and sliding that Ferrari around, rally style. It all got a bit messy to be honest, but he's still managed the sixth fastest time overall. There's more there if he can keep it nice and tidy.

  35. 1357: 

    Pastor Maldonado finally leaves this pits just as Felipe Massa begins his first flying lap of Q3. Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, meanwhile, have headed back for a new set of boots.

  36. 1356: 

    Mark Webber slots into third, pushing Fernando Alonso into fourth, with Nico Rosberg a brilliant fifth ahead of Jenson Button.

  37. 1355: 

    Lewis Hamilton is in a class of his own at the moment. The 2008 world champion nails three brilliant sectors to go quickest with a 1:40.6, four tenths quicker than Sebastian Vettel can manage in second.

  38. 1354: 

    Along with live TV coverage of qualifying above, you lucky lucky desktop users get On Board, Driver Tracker and Live Pitlane cameras, as well as Alternative Commentary (with Jonathan Legard) plus Live Timing.

  39. 1352: 

    Raikkonen sets the benchmark with a 1:41.7, but that surely won't be enough for pole. Romain Grosjean rides shotgun in the other Lotus, but both of them are beaten by the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.

  40. 1350: 

    Kimi Raikkonen wastes no time in getting out nice and early in the 10-minute session, he's soon joined by Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg.

  41. 1348: 

    Darkness has descended on Yas Marina just in time for the final part of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Let's get it on.

  42. 1346: 

    Michael Schumacher's engineer apologies to him after the German legend ran out of time for a final lap and will start 14th. Schumacher replies to say it was his fault as he got confused by which mode Kers should have been in.

  43. 1345: 

    1) Hamilton 2) Webber 3) Vettel 4) Alonso 5) Raikkonen 6) Grosjean 7) Rosberg 8) Massa 9) Button 10) Maldonado

  44. 1344: 

    11) Hulkenberg 12) Perez 13) Di Resta 14) Schumacher 15) Senna 16) Kobayashi 17) Ricciardo

  45. 1343: 


  46. 1342: 

    Bizarrely, Nico Rosberg has set the fastest sector of all in the middle sector. Not quite sure where that pace came from. Crikey. The Mercedes driver gets himself into seventh.

  47. 1341: 

    So Hamilton leads Webber from Vettel Alonso, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Massa, Button, Maldonado and Hulkenberg.

  48. 1340: 

    Nico Hulkenberg is on the bubble in 10th in his Force India, but the German - who is heading to Sauber next year - is still out on track and pushing.

  49. 1339: 

    Paul di Resta can't find a way into the top 10, slotting into 11th. Replays show the Force India driver locked up coming into the final corner which would have lost him a tenth or two.

  50. 1338: 

    Rosberg, Schumacher, Perez, Senna, Kobayashi, Ricciardo and Di Resta find themselves in the drop zone with just over four minutes remaining.

  51. 1337: 

    Mark Webber goes quickest now, but Lewis Hamilton isn't having any of it and breaks into the 1m40s. Brilliant stuff from the Briton. Sebastian Vettel is third overall, ahead of Fernando Alonso, Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen.

  52. 1336: 

    Fernando Alonso goes second quickest and then raises his arm in frustration at Mark Webber up ahead. "We saw that, but let's stay calm," say his Ferrari team over the radio.

  53. 1335: 

    Jenson Button goes fifth, ahead of Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado. The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher find themselves in the top 10 at the moment, but we've still yet to see times from Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.

  54. 1334: 

    Lewis Hamilton smashes through that though on his first tour, bringing the leading time down to a 1m41.3. Lovely stuff from the McLaren driver who is keeping his cool. Red Bull's Mark Webber goes second quickest, just over two tenths behind.

  55. 1332: 

    Romain Grosjean ramps up the pace, though, clocking an impressive 1:41.558 which is a few thousandths quicker than Lotus team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

  56. 1331: 

    Sergio Perez is the first to get his name on the board, the Sauber driver clocking a 1:42.313.

  57. 1329: 

    Sergio Perez, Mark Webber and Jenson Button are among the early runners out on track. Only Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India has yet to leave the garage.

  58. 1327: 

    The lights have gone green and we're good to go for Q2 in Abu Dhabi - a 15-minute session which will take the 10 fastest drivers forward to the pole position shoot-out.

  59. 1326: 

    The track temperature has dropped down 30C from a high of 44C in practice earlier as the sun sets over in Abu Dhabi. Just a few minutes left until the second part of qualifying begins...

  60. 1325: 

    1) Hamilton 2) Rosberg 3) Webber 4) Alonso 5) Massa 6) Maldonado 7) Grosjean 8) Vettel 9) Raikkonen 10) Button 11) Di Resta 12) Hulkenberg 13) Perez 14) Schumacher 15) Ricciardo 16) Senna 17) Kobayashi

  61. 1324: 

    18) Vergne 19) Kovalainen 20) Pic 21) Petrov 22) Glock 23) De la Rosa 24) Karthikeyan

  62. 1323: 


  63. 1321: 

    The stewards say they will investigate an incident between Sergio Perez and Bruno Senna after qualifying.

  64. 1320: 

    For the second successive race, Jean-Eric Vergne will not make Q2 after his final lap is eighth tenths off the pace set by Kamui Kobayashi who is one place ahead in 17th at the moment.


    Chief F1 writer Andrew Benson on Twitter: "David Coulthard on @alo_oficial's Ferrari: 'Not so much a prancing horse, more like a bucking bronco.'"

  66. 1319: 

    It's all gone wrong for Jean-Eric Vergne who is in the drop zone. The Toro Rosso driver was on course for a time which would have put him 11th or 12th, but he loses the rear end. Thankfully for him, there's enough time to recover and do another lap. Can he get it all together to get himself into Q2? Kamui Kobayashi will be the man who loses out if he does.

  67. 1318: 

    The top four- Hamilton, Alonso, Massa, Button - appear content with where their times as they've headed back to their garages. Out on track, Mark Webber improves to second overall, half a second off the pace set by Hamilton with Kimi Raikkonen popping into fifth.

  68. 1316: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne of Toro Rosso finds himself in the drop zone along with the Caterhams, Marussias and HRTs. Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel is told by his engineer Rocky that they think his lap is good enough to get through to Q2 so it is up to him as to whether he wants to carry on or not.

  69. 1315: 

    Better from Sebastian Vettel on his next lap as he goes fourth fastest, but it's still eighth tenths off the pace. The German is then demoted one place by Felipe Massa who pops into third, just a few thousandths behind Ferrari team-mate Fernando Alonso.


    Force India's Paul Di Resta over team radio: "This is a disaster trying to get a clear lap."

  71. 1314: 

    Sebastian Vettel is pushing like crazy and kisses the wall as he comes out of Turn 19. The reigning world champion is on the ropes at the moment as he clocks the 13th fastest time. That, of course, is good enough to get through to Q2 at the moment, but he'd have liked to have been higher I'm sure. Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber is just one place further ahead.

  72. 1312: 

    Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are out an about on track in the Red Bulls as Lewis Hamilton hooks it all up beautifully to go quickest in a stunning 1:41.497. That'll be plenty good enough to get him into Q2.

  73. 1311: 

    Alonso goes quicker than anyone else has managed today with a 1:42.115, two tenths ahead of Pastor Maldonado. Felipe Massa goes third quickest, three tenths shy of his Ferrari team-mate.

  74. 1310: 

    Lewis Hamilton is absolutely flying and is three tenths up after two sectors, but he locks up his front right at Turn 11 and is forced to back off. He's still got just over nine minutes to have another go, though.

  75. 1308: 

    Pastor Maldonado improves on his next tour of this 5.554km track to snatch P1 back in this session by two tenths of a second. Kimi Raikkonen is showing good pace in that Lotus - the Finn goes second quickest, two tenths off the pace.

  76. 1307: 

    Decent stuff from Fernando Alonso who creeps in front of Pastor Maldonado at the top of the timesheets. The Spaniard is just 0.021 seconds quicker than the Williams. Jenson Button is a few thousandths back in third, demoting Kimi Raikkonen down to fourth. All cars are out on track apart from both Red Bulls with 13 minutes remaining.

  77. 1306: 

    Both Red Bulls and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton seem content to stay in the pits for now as Kimi Raikkonen goes second quickest, half a second of the pace but half a second quicker than Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean in third.

  78. 1304: 

    Kamui Kobayashi clocks a 1:43.939 to gets us off the mark but that's soon eclipsed by a solid lap from Pastor Maldonado who rips 1.5 seconds off that time to go top.

  79. 1302: 

    We've heard from Red Bull boss Christian Horner so it's only fair we give his counterpart a chance. Ferrari chief Stefano Domenicali said: "Red Bull have been very strong, McLaren were really very fast and we were on the average side. Let's hope we can put together a lap in qualifying as that is always the weakest point for us."

  80. 1300: 

    The pit lane has opened and we're up and away in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Kamui Kobayashi is the first man out in his Sauber, followed by Romain Grosjean in the Lotus who drives around the Williams of Pastor Maldonado before negotiating the pit lane exit which tunnels underneath the track.

  81. 1259: 

    We're a minute away from the start of qualifying folks with Ben Edwards and David Coulthard nattering away in the commentary box. Remember the first part will be a 20-minute session where the slowest seven of 24 drivers will get the boot.

    BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Some of Ferrari's rivals are a bit upset about their breaking of the curfew rules twice in one weekend - they understood that the FIA considered doing it twice to be illegal and punishable by both cars going to the back of the grid. But that was a note; the actual rule only says that teams are allowed no more than four curfew breakages all season. In any case, Ferrari say the second on Saturday morning was a simple error. Team boss Stefano Domenicali says it was 'one guy who couldn't sleep and came in 20 minutes early'."

  83. 1252: 

    Does Horner think his Red Bull team can be on pole for the fourth successive race? "It's going to be tough, I think it's going to take something special to do that," he said. "The McLarens look very quick here. This layout seems to suit the characteristics of their car. Sebastian had an issue this morning and it was important we had that fixed before qualifying."


    Red Bull boss Christian Horner: "[Alonso] is a remarkable guy, but you've got to have all the things aorund you - a good car, a good engine, a group of people back at the factory doing their bit. One individual isn't enough, otherwise he could drive a Marussia at the front - and this business isn't as easy as that.

    "We've come from a long way back [this season]. It was unimaginable after the summer break to be here 13 points ahead [in the drivers' standings]. It's important we keep the momentum going now."

  85. 1248: 

    The drivers have spoken, now time for the team bosses. Red Bull chief Christian Horner is full of praise for Fernando Alonso but adds that he's impressed at how his team have fought back after a disappointing start to the season...


    Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso: "I truly believe we can win [the title], Sebastian is on a very good run after four wins, but things have been up and down for everybody and things will change. We will get some extra speed, hopefully in this race. At some stage he will not have a good weekend and hopefully we will get our opportunity.

    "It is a fact that Red Bull are stronger. They have dominated maybe similar to last year, but in this year we are not 100 points behind, we are 13 points behind.

    "Last year and this year have perhaps been the best years for me. This is the first time everyone agree for my performance and even when I achieved the world championship not everyone agree. This year's quite amazing for me."

  87. 1244: 

    We've heard from one championship contender, now it's time to hear from another. Fernando Alonso has seen his title advantage turn into a deficit, but the double world champion still fancies his chances...

  88. 1240: 

    We're closing in on the start of qualifying as the sun sets over Abu Dhabi and the floodlights that dot this 5.554km track edging towards full power. The first session gets under way at 1300 with Ben Edwards and David Coulthard providing the commentary on BBC One and in the video player above.


    Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel: "Ninety eight times so far that the lights went off, 98 times I've been through the first corner - you don't realise how quickly time goes by. If you look back to the year I started F1 in 2007, it doesn't feel like that long ago.

    "It's two years ago that we won the [first] championship and there have been so many races that have happened. When I wake up in the morning, all I think about is now. I'm not thinking about two years ago.

    "I think I have learned a lot. It's the same for the team. It made us all tougher. The spirit hasn't changed. We're still hungry. [Winning the title] has been an important goal - the most important thing I wanted to achieve in my life."

  90. 1236: 

    Sebastian Vettel, who will start his 99th grand prix on Sunday, is edging closer to his third successive world title, has been talking to BBC Sport about his career to date and lessons learned.


    Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn: "We had a pretty strong start to the season. We did a fairly major restructure of the team, and that included a major revamp of our facilities.

    "We know we have to make a step forward. We have some extra responsibility for next year. We're having a quiet spell at the moment but we're pushing on for next year."

  92. 1231: 

    Mercedes have well and truly dropped off the pace in recent races. Nico Rosberg won the team's first race in the Chinese Grand Prix in April but have failed to replicate that since. In practice this morning, Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher finished 13th and 14th respectively.

  93. 1226: 

    BBC Radio 5 live pit lane reporter Jennie Gow reports that Ferrari have escaped sanction for breaking their curfew for the second time in the same weekend. Team representatives were summoned to see the stewards this morning.

  94. 1222: 

    Germany - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Race finish 1st

    Hungary - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) Race finish 1st

    Belgium - Jenson Button (McLaren) Race finish 1st

    Italy - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) Race finish 1st

    Singapore - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) Race finish DNF

    Japan - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Race finish 1st

    Korea - Mark Webber (Red Bull) Race finish 2nd

    India - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Race finish 1st

  95. 1220: 

    2012 pole-sitters:

    Australia - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) Race finish 3rd

    Malaysia - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) Race finish 3rd

    China - Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) Race finish 1st

    Bahrain - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Race finish 1st

    Spain - Pastor Maldonado (Williams) Race finish 1st

    Monaco - Mark Webber (Red Bull) Race finish 1st

    Canada - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Race finish 4th

    Europe - Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) Race finish DNF

    Britain - Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) Race finish 2nd

  96. 1218: 

    So there's just 40 minutes left until qualifying gets under way. As always, the session will be split into three parts. The first lasts 20 minutes and will see the seven slowest drivers knocked out. Another seven will bite the dust in the 15-minute second session, leaving 10 drivers to fight it out in a 10-minute pole position shoot-out.

    BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan

    "Sebastian Vettel is walking on water at he moment. Everything he touches turns to gold. He's doing everything right."

  98. 1214: 

    One famous face who will be enjoying the never-ending sunshine that Abu Dhabi has to offer this weekend is British Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis. The Olympic champion tweeted when she arrived in Abu Dhabi on Friday ready to enjoy the delights of Formula 1. I wonder which team will be hosting the golden girl at Yas Marina...

    BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "It was a sobering final practice session for Ferrari - Fernando Alonso was a second off the pace on a weekend where he really badly needs a good result to stop Sebastian Vettel inching even further ahead in the championship. Alonso was even half a second down on the German's Red Bull despite Vettel doing only one flying lap as a result of brake problems. The Ferrari has a whole raft of updates this weekend but they have done little to disguise the car's fundamental problem - a lack of traction. And that is exactly what you don't need on a track with so many right-angled corners. So the Ferrari, updates or not, is off the pace, just as it was in Singapore, where 90-degree corners are also abundant. It's another weekend of damage limitation for Alonso."

  100. 1210: 

    Ah, I never get tired of hearing The Chain which is ringing out on BBC One right this second. Yep, it's time for Jake, EJ and DC to begin building up to qualifying...

  101. 1206: 

    It's time for this week's Lawro's Podium Predictions. I'm going for Sebastian Vettel because, while he had those problems in third practice, the German always seems to deliver when it matters in Q3. Do you agree or disagree? Get in touch using the #bbcf1 hashtag on Twitter or by texting 81111 (UK only) but remembering to put your name and F1 at the start of your message.


    Ferrari on Twitter: "It's going to be a tough qualifying session."

  103. 1203: 

    While McLaren and Red Bull locked out the top four positions in final practice, Ferrari found themselves eighth (Alonso) and 11th (Massa). Championship contender Alonso was one second off the pace, with Massa a further three tenths slower.

  104. 1201: 

    Top six in 2011

    1) Sebastian Vettel - 1:38.481

    2) Lewis Hamilton - 1:38.622

    3) Jenson Button - 1:38.631

    4) Mark Webber - 1:38.858

    5) Fernando Alonso - 1:39.058

    6) Felipe Massa - 1:39.058

  105. 1159: 

    Lewis Hamilton has topped six of the 12 practice sessions held in Abu Dhabi since the venue made its debut in 2009 and has never failed to start the race from anywhere other than the front row. The 2008 world champion has one started from pole and twice from second, with Sebastian Vettel having always been alongside him.

  106. 1157: 

    Up front, the McLarens - particularly in the hands of Lewis Hamilton - looked supreme, and while Hamilton's title hopes are slim at best - he's 75 behind with 75 remaining - the Briton can still play a crucial role in whether the title goes to Red Bull or Ferrari.

  107. 1154: 

    Vettel's supreme form looked set to continue after he shot to the top of the charts in second practice on Friday. But the reigning world champion spent 55 minutes of the one-hour session sat in his garage this morning, before completing one timed lap that was good enough for third overall.

  108. 1151: 

    Red Bull's reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel turned the championship on its head when he won four races in a row to snatch the championship lead from Fernando Alonso. The Ferrari driver has seen a 40-point lead fizzle into a 13-point deficit with 75 points remaining in the final three races - including this weekend's race in Abu Dhabi.

  109. 1148: 

    Hello and a very warm welcome to our live coverage of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the state-of-the-art Yas Marina circuit. Qualifying gets under way at 1300 GMT, but before that we've got plenty to get through to preview the session, including a live show on BBC One from 1210.

  110. 1145: 

    Sebastian Vettel is the man in form ahead of qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, having won the last four races, with Ferrari's Fernando Alonso just about hanging onto his tail in the championship battle. But a brake problem for Vettel in final practice left him stranded in the garage and gave everyone hope that there's still life in this title race yet.

  111. 1110: 

    Have a read of Andrew Benson's developing final practice report and then go and get lunch ready because the qualifying show kicks off on BBC One at 1210 GMT. I'll be back at 1145 to begin building up to what could be an absolute cracker of a pole position shoot-out. See you in a bit.

  112. 1107: 

    Here's how they finished third and final practice:

    1) Hamilton 2) Button 3) Vettel 4) Webber 5) Hulkenberg 6) Grosjean 7) Maldonado 8) Alonso 9) Raikkonen 10) Di Resta 11) Massa 12) Perez

    13) Rosberg 14) Schumacher 15) Kobayashi 16) Vergne 17) Senna 18) Ricciardo 19) Kovalainen 20) Glock 21) Pic 22) Petrov 23) De la Rosa 24) Karthikeyan

  113. 1105: 

    It's an impressive performance from Nico Hulkenberg who finished fifth fastest in the Force India, just a few thousandths off the pace set by Mark Webber in the Red Bull.

  114. 1103: 


  115. 1101: 

    A super effort from Sebastian Vettel who clocks the third fastest time of the session, 0.4 seconds off the pace set by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button but 0.2 quicker than team-mate Mark Webber.

  116. 1059: 

    Sebastian Vettel is half a second off the pace after two sectors on his first flying lap, but decides to back off and prepare the tyres for one last shot at a quick lap time.

  117. 1058: 

    Lewis Hamilton sets the fastest first and second middle sectors on his soft tyre run to improve on his previous best by 0.018 seconds.

  118. 1057: 

    It's a decent effort from Jenson Button who shaves a tenth of his previous best to close to 0.272 seconds off McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

  119. 1056: 

    Mark Webber sets the fastest middle sector of all, but he can only manage the third quickest time overall, half a second off the pace. There's good news for his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel, though, as the reigning world champion pulls out of his garage with less than four minutes remaining.

  120. 1055: 

    It's time for some qualifying-style runs as everyone apart from Michael Schumacher, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastian Vettel are out on track. BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson reports that it looks like Sebastian Vettel will get out in time for one run providing there aren't any more problems.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed some sparks coming from the floor of Mark Webber's Red Bull during second practice in Abu Dhabi on Friday - just as happened to Sebastian Vettel's car during the race in India. What's happening is that a bit of wire used in the 'tea-tray' section on the floor of the car under the nose - which is needed to make legal a specific aerodynamic design used in that area by most of the teams - is breaking when the car hits a kerb. The one on the Red Bull is obviously especially vulnerable to damage. The car remains legal at the end of the race despite the wire being dislodged because it is classed as accident damage."

  122. 1050: 

    It looks like everyone wants to keep Sebastian Vettel company as there's not a single car out on track with 10 minutes to go...

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "Sebastian Vettel's car is going back together again. The front is going back together, the rear is causing some problems. Will they get out in 10 minutes? It's going to be tough. He has been good at recovering from this situation in the past, but he'll want to get a lap in before the end of the session. They will have made set-up changes overnight and if he doesn't get out, do they stick with them or not?"

  124. 1048: 

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson reports that Red Bull are putting Sebastian Vettel's car back together to raise hopes the reigning world champion will get the chance for some running in this session.

  125. 1047: 

    So Lewis Hamilton leads the way by 0.348 seconds from McLaren team-mate Jenson Button. Romain Grosjean is third quickest, ahead of Pastor Maldonado, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso. Nico Hulkenberg, Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa and Paul di Resta complete the top 10 with 13 minutes remaining.

  126. 1045: 

    Jenson Button closes on his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton with another improvement, but he remains 0.348 seconds off the pace. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel is still in the garage. BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson says: "There seems to be a bit of a drama going on at Red Bull with Sebastian Vettel's car. The team are working away on the front brakes and it's going to be tight to get him out before the end of the session."

  127. 1043: 

    Romain Grosjean bolts on a set of soft tyres and sets personal bests in each of the three sectors to go third quickest, 1.1 seconds off the pace.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "I was out watching at Turn One during second practice on Friday and it was fascinating to see the different cars. Key to the performance of an F1 car is rear stability. The driver wants the rear to be in rotation into a corner, to get the car turned and pointed at the apex ready to accelerate out, but it also needs to be stable enough to allow him to get back on the accelerator when he wants to. This is where the Red Bull stands out from the other cars - even the McLaren. Early in the lap, the McLarens can match the Red Bull but it is clearly taking more out of the tyres to do so, so by the end of the lap the Red Bull has much more tyre grip left than anything else. Vettel is making up most of his time in the final sector, and that's why."

  129. 1040: 

    Jenson Button goes second quickest, but he can't quite match his McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton. Button is seven tenths off the pace, with Fernando Alonso third and Mark Webber fourth. There's a decent effort from Pastor Maldonado as he goes fifth fastest, albeit 1.5 seconds off the pace.

  130. 1038: 

    Jennie Gow and Gary Anderson report that there's plenty of activity in the Red Bull garage as the mechanics bleed the brakes on Sebastian Vettel's car. The reigning world champion has completed just two laps and not a single flier in the first 38 minutes of this session.

  131. 1036: 

    Lewis Hamilton is doing a stunning job at the moment on those medium compound tyres. The 2008 world champion shaves another three tenths off a second off his best to retain top spot. Mark Webber is second, 1.471 seconds off the pace with Fernando Alonso a few thousandths further back.

    BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "The old chestnut of News Corporation wanting to buy F1 has re-emerged this morning, with one of the British tabloids reporting that media mogul Rupert Murdoch's son James was coming to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday to discuss buying a larger stake in the sport. A high-level source used a rude word when describing the story, saying that while BSkyB executives happen to be in the Middle East on non-F1 business and may pop into the F1 paddock to see how their latest sports rights acquisition was doing, any meetings with senior team people will be no more than courtesy chats."

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "There is speculation that an auxiliary oil tank forward in the Red Bull car is being used to move the weight distribution forward by pumping oil from the back to the front. If they did that, it would contravene the regulations but I don't believe they will be. The rules say that the teams have to ensure their cars comply at all times, and if they had that system the FIA would know about it. They will know whether there is a pump that moves oil from the back to the front, or the front to the back."

  134. 1033: 

    Lewis Hamilton lights up the timing screens, going fastest in all three sectors to improve his P1 time by a further three tenths of a second. Mark Webber has popped his Red Bull into second, 1.368 seconds off the pace, while Fernando Alonso manages the 10th quickest lap on his first timed run.


    Bishop on Twitter: ‏"Watching @LewisHamilton now and I just can't figure it out why McLaren decided to let the driver who has a proven records go."

  136. 1031: 

    Hurrah, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and Jenson Button have dashed out for their first timed runs. Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel remains parked up in his garage.

  137. 1029: 

    Lewis Hamilton has wrestled back control with a tasty 1:42.851, 1.1 seconds clear of Pastor Maldonado in second. Nico Hulkenberg has popped into third in the Force India, one place ahead of Michael Schumacher's Mercedes.

  138. 1025: 

    No sign of the main championship contenders Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso at the moment. The duo seem content to bide their time in the garage.

  139. 1023: 

    Lewis Hamilton's first timed lap sends him straight to the top of the timesheets, but his place there is shortlived as Pastor Maldonado slices 0.285 seconds off that time to go P1 in the Williams.

  140. 1020: 

    Kimi Raikkonen has take his place at the top of the charts with a 1:44.654, 0.167 seconds clear of Sergio Perez in second. Romain Grosjean is third ahead of Bruno Senna who has shown a distinct upturn in form of late.


    Ferrari on Twitter: "Both drivers are back in the garage. Now it's time to wait a bit for the normal Saturday FP programme: two runs on each type of tyres."

  142. 1016: 

    On the subject of tyres, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery believes there is between 0.4 to 0.8 seconds difference in performance between the soft and the medium tyres in Abu Dhabi. "Durability is very good on both compounds, with low degradation," he added. "As a result, we may even see some drivers trying one pit stop here during the race whereas last year two stops was Hamilton's winning strategy."

    BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Only two men have ever set a pole position at Abu Dhabi - Sebastian Vettel has two and Lewis Hamilton one. Hamilton's driving style is particularly effective through the quick direction changes in the sequence of medium-speed corners in the track's final sector, but while he was exceptionally quick on the 'medium' tyre on Friday - more than 0.5secs quicker than anyone else - he did not go quicker on the 'soft'. 'I set a good time on the prime but people seemed to find about 0.8secs on the option and I wasn't able to get any time out of it,' he said. 'Perhaps it's about switching the tyres on. I suspected Sebastian would suddenly start to go quickly. I generally didn't have great pace. I was struggling with the car but I'm not really sure why, but plenty of time to figure out why.' That time is now running out, and this final practice session is about honing the car so it is ready for qualifying, for which Hamilton says he is not expecting to grab pole. 'If we get pole it would be fantastic,' he said, 'but we shouldn't get our hopes up, Sebastian has got a faster car.'"

  144. 1013: 

    Kamui Kobayashi is the first man to set a timed lap, though it's an unspectacular 1:49.1. The fastest time in this session last year was a 1:38.9 while on Friday, the best was a 1:41.7.

  145. 1011: 

    It's a sizzling 32C on Yas Island with the track temperature a whopping 44C. It'll be a fair bit cooler when we get around to the business of qualifying a bit later - 1210 GMT on BBC One with the session starting at 1300 - as day becomes night.

  146. 1008: 

    Silence has descended on the Yas Marina circuit following an early flurry of activity. Installation laps have been completed and now it's time for the teams to make any tweaks to get the cars ready for their first run of the morning.

    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "Fernando Alonso still has the new front wing on his car, which appeared to be a little quicker on Friday, and the new under-nose barge-boards. He also has a different rear wing on it to Felipe Massa."

  148. 1005: 

    Congratulations to super statto Prince Sushy who was the first to name all 11 drivers correctly - and interestingly in the order in which they got them.

    Shout-outs to Eden Bishop Jones and Gwan who got painfully close, but incorrectly named Alonso on the list.

    Here is the complete 11 in all their glory: Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Kamui Kobayashi, Sebastian Vettel, Romain Grosjean, Sergio Perez, Nico Rosberg, Michael Schumacher, Bruno Senna, Nico Hulkenberg and Mark Webber.

  149. 1002: 

    Plenty of action straight away with Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button among those to hit the track nice and early for their installation laps.

  150. 1000: 
    GO! GO! GO!

    The sound of an F1 engine pierces the silence and we're up and away for third and final practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix...

  151. 0956: 

    Jonathan Legard and John Watson are up and running in the BBC 5 live commentary box. You can listen to their dulcet tones via the video player at the top of the page or on 5 live sports extra.

    BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "No-one can question the effort Ferrari are putting trying - in vain, so far - to stop Red Bull steamrollering their way to the championship following their recent upsurge in form. For the second consecutive night they have broken F1's curfew, which defines the hours that the teams are not allowed to be in the paddock working on the cars. That means Ferrari have now used up two of their four allowed breaks in the space of as many days.

    "Although Ferrari say in this case - unlike on Thursday/Friday - it was a mistake by one team member. In any case, the team are doing everything they can to improve the car. Fernando Alonso has had a revised front wing, under-chassis barge boards and rear wing to play with at Yas Marina and they seemed to be working. Ferrari, who have had problems in some recent races with their updates and had to drop them, kept the newest parts on the car in Friday second practice after running a series of 'back-to-back' tests. But the acid test will be a) whether they are on the car again on Saturday morning; and b) whether they make a substantive difference. The jury is still out on that one."

  153. 0952: 

    How do drivers warm up for practice? Well Nico Rosberg likes to turn his baseball cap round, roll down his driving suit and practices keepie-uppies in the paddock while getting someone to take a picture of him so he can tweet it...

  154. 0947: 

    Eleven different drivers have set the fastest race laps in 17 races this season. First person to name the 11 gets their names up in lights on this very live text commentary. Tweet your answers using the #bbcf1 hashtag - and no cheating by scanning the internet, because that's no fun.

  155. 0944: 

    The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix isn't simply a race track but rather the focal point of a whole man-made island. The 21-turn 5.444km track looks pristine and is set against the backdrop of the iconic 499-room Yas Hotel which straddles the track and uses 5,389 pivoting LED panes to produce a stunning sparkling light show. Next door, you'll find Ferrari World, an indoor amusement park which is housed underneath a 200,000m square roof and houses the Formula Rossa roller-coaster that has a top speed of 240kph. Find out more in this preview feature I've pulled together.

  156. 0940: 

    Abu Dhabi have pulled out all the stops to give fans their money's worth. The hugely popular Australian V8 Supercars have been enticed over to the United Arab Emirates. Away from the track, Friday ticket holders were treated to a performance from Kylie Minogue while on Saturday, Nickelback take to the stage with Eminem closing proceedings on Sunday after the race.

    BBC Sport’s chief F1 writer Andrew Benson:

    "Same story, different place? So far, the evidence of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has been that - yet again - Red Bull, and particularly Sebastian Vettel, will be the ones to beat. Vettel has a special affinity with Abu Dhabi and the Red Bull is working particularly well around the Yas Marina track, as it has for the last three years. The big question heading into final practice is whether Ferrari's extensive updates at this race can enable Fernando Alonso to compete. He really needs to beat Vettel in the desert - somehow - to stop his title hopes fading ever further. Saturday's final practice and qualifying will give a good indication as to whether that is possible."


    McLaren driver Jenson Button on Twitter: "Car seems to be working well around Yas Marina circuit here in Abu Dhabi, especially in race spec. So looking forward to a great weekend!"

  159. 0936: 

    But before we get down to the business of qualifying, we've got the short - but crucial - one hour of final practice to get through. That session starts at 1000 GMT and provides the final opportunity to fine tune the cars before qualifying and the race. It'll be live on the red button and the video player above from 0955 with BBC Radio 5 live sports extra providing the commentary once more.

  160. 0933: 

    Welcome, one and all, to our live coverage of final practice and qualifying for the the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the extravagent Yas Marina circuit on Yas Island. On Friday, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton shared the spoils in the two practice sessions. The duo have a love affair with this track and are the only two to have started on the front row since the venue made its debut in 2009. Vettel has two poles and one second place start, while Hamilton has one pole and two seconds.

  161. 0930: 

    Red Bull have locked out the front row of the grid for the last three races and will bid to become the first team since McLaren in 1998 to make it four later today in Abu Dhabi. Based on their recent run of form and Sebastian Vettel's supreme form at Yas Marina - he's won two of the three events held since its debut - it's difficult to predict anything other than that will happen. But Lewis Hamilton gave us all a ray of hope on Friday when he topped first practice and finished a close second to championship leader Vettel in the second session.

FIA Formula 1 World Championsh 2015

Position Driver Team Pts
1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes 25
2 Germany N Rosberg Mercedes 18
3 Germany S Vettel Ferrari 15
4 Brazil F Massa Williams 12
5 Brazil F Nasr Sauber 10
6 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull 8
7 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India 6
8 Sweden M Ericsson Sauber 4
9 C Sainz Toro Rosso 2
10 Mexico S Perez Force India 1
11 Great Britain J Button McLaren 0
12 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari 0
13 M Verstappen Toro Rosso 0
14 France R Grosjean Lotus 0
15 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus 0
16 Russia D Kvyat Red Bull 0
18 Finland V Bottas Williams 0


After 60 of 61 laps
Position Driver Team

Race stopped at 60 laps

1 Great Britain L Hamilton Mercedes
2 Germany S Vettel Red Bull
3 Australia D Ricciardo Red Bull
4 Spain F Alonso Ferrari
5 Brazil F Massa Williams
6 France J Vergne Toro Rosso
7 Mexico S Perez Force India
8 Finland K Raikkonen Ferrari
9 Germany N Hulkenberg Force India
10 Denmark K Magnussen McLaren
11 Finland V Bottas Williams
12 Venezuela P Maldonado Lotus
13 France R Grosjean Lotus
14 Russia D Kvyat Toro Rosso
15 Sweden M Ericsson Caterham
16 France J Bianchi Marussia
17 Great Britain M Chilton Marussia
18 Great Britain J Button (ret.) McLaren
19 Germany A Sutil (ret.) Sauber
20 Mexico E Gutierrez (ret.) Sauber
21 Germany N Rosberg (ret.) Mercedes
22 Japan K Kobayashi (ret.) Caterham