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LIVE COMMENTARY: 2012 ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX - QUALIFYING
   GO TO LIVE INDEX ALL TIMES GMT  
As it happened: Qualifying
By Geoff Creighton and Emlyn Hughes
The live commentary has ended. No further updates will be posted.
Vettel12:50 Hello everyone and welcome back to AUTOSPORT Live as we continue with coverage and rolling updates from what is turning out to be a fascinating weekend. It's the fourth Abu Dhabi Grand Prix twilight event and also crunch time in the championship, with just three rounds remaining.

Lewis Hamilton topped final practice earlier with a fastest lap of 1m42.130s. The Briton was 0.290s clear of McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, with championship leader Sebastian Vettel third, Mark Webber fourth, Nico Hulkenberg an impressive fifth in the Force India and Romain Grosjean rounding out the top six.

Hamilton fastest in final Abu Dhabi practice

But there was high drama for the second session in a row at Red Bull. Vettel completed an installation lap with the rest at the start of the hour-long practice, but poor brake pedal feel required extensive repairs in the garage. It took a long time for the issue to be resolved and the German only managed a five lap run on soft tyres at the end, with just one hot lap.

So we have Red Bull on the back foot and needing to do something about the flying McLaren pair and Fernando Alonso fired up to stay in the championship hunt. We are set for a fascinating qualifying session and it all begins in under 10 minutes.

12:52 Weather conditions remain fine and warm as the sun begins to set in the Abu Dhabi sky.

All the showers across the Persian Gulf and close to the coast have faded away, leaving the teams clear to work on their ultimate performance.

Air temperature will dip to around 30 Celsius during the upcoming knockout session, while there is a moderate north-westerly breeze. Official sunset time is 17:41 GST, which is towards the end of Q2.

11:54 Here is how the qualifying battle stands with three to go:
Qualifying head-to-head

Vettel        10 - 7     Webber
Button         4 - 13    Hamilton
Alonso        16 - 1     Massa
Schumacher     9 - 8     Rosberg
Raikkonen      8 - 9     Grosjean / D'Ambrosio
Di Resta       8 - 9     Hulkenberg
Kobayashi     10 - 7     Perez
Ricciardo     14 - 3     Vergne
Maldonado     15 - 2     Senna
Kovalainen    13 - 4     Petrov
De la Rosa    16 - 1     Karthikeyan
Glock         11 - 5     Pic
Tyres12:56 Plenty of pace and durability in the medium compound rubber here, with McLaren drivers in particular enjoying the harder Pirelli during final practice.

All that could change as temperatures fall with the developing sunset. But leading outfits will comfortably escape the first segment without the use of soft tyres, with speed gains on the options somewhat limited.

The soft has been reluctant to deliver pace at times so far this weekend, with the smooth asphalt a factor in limiting the ability of drivers to get heat into the rubber.

Look out for some more creative tyre use in the final segments, with drivers potentially finding good laptimes on longer runs before a late single-lap attempt for the pole.

12:56 Hamilton and Vettel are the only men to claim front row starts here and the pair again look set to fight for the top grid slots.

12:58 Track temperature has dropped to 31 Celsius as the sunlight begins to weaken. The north-westerly wind has also picked up somewhat.

12:58 Alonso prepares for a critical session, with the title challenger taking rushed Ferrari updates into the hour in a bid to find more pace.

0 min: Q1 begins at Yas Marina.

0 min: Grosjean and Kobayashi are among the first out of the pitlane.

0 min: Maldonado joins the early runners on the circuit in the Williams.

1 min: Di Resta and Hulkenberg head out for Force India, joined by Senna.

1 min: Glock and Pic in the Marussias are already on the softer tyres.

1 min: Karthikeyan is next out onto the track for HRT.

2 min: Vergne heads out to begin his first run in the session, followed by de la Rosa.

2 min: No move yet from the big hitters, as the early runners cross the start-finish line to begin a timed lap.

2 min: No hurry at McLaren, with the team confident of its pace on the harder tyres.

3 min: Schumacher joins the racetrack in the Mercedes, with others about to start putting times on the board.

3 min: Kobayashi sets the initial mark at a 1m43.939s.

4 min: Maldonado moves ahead of the Japanese driver with 1m42.595s.

4 min: Grosjean slots in second fastest to Maldonado, with Kobayshi now third from Pic and Petrov.

4 min: Di Resta's first effort places him third with a time of 1m43.790s.

4 min: Button and Hamilton are now underway on hard tyres.

4 min: Hulkenberg completes a building lap in the sister car and is only eighth. He goes again.

5 min: Ricciardo completed one lap and is straight back into the pits, while others continue on the circuit.

5 min: Raikkonen clocks a 1m43.038s to go second fastest, but still four tenths slower than Maldonado.

6 min: Webber is on track for Red Bull, leaving team-mate Vettel in the garage and showing no signs of heading out in the next minute or two.

6 min: Ricciardo is back on track after a short stay in the pits.

6 min: Alonso is the fastest man through the middle part of the lap.

6 min: Hulkenberg completes that second lap and moves up to fifth with a time of 1m43.132s.

6 min: Alonso comes around in 1m42.574s to top the times in his Ferrari.

7 min: Schumacher goes into an early seventh spot with 1m43.560s as he builds up speed.

7 min: Button slots in third fastest with an initial effort, just fractions slower than Alonso.

7 min: Maldonado completes another tour and lowers the benchmark to 1m42.375s.

8 min: Raikkonen is now the fastest man through the first sector while Hamilton is on a gentle initial lap.

9 min: Webber and Vettel join the circuit, with just over 11 minutes remaining in this segment.

9 min: Raikkonen improves to a 1m42.525s to go second fastest in the Lotus.

9 min: Hamilton is on it now with the fastest first sector time, having locked up on his first flying lap.

10 min: Hamilton tops the second sector as well but runs wide in a smoking lock-up at Turn 11 and this won't be a quick one.

10 min: There was some talk that Vettel would come out early to play catch-up and get a medium tyre run in, but that really hasn't happened. The German is clearly into 'qualifying mode' and set for today's session, rather than gathering data for tomorrow.

10 min: Meanwhile, Alonso is back on top of the times with a quick 1m42.115s.

10 min: Maldonado is back into the pits after a five lap run. He is now second to Alonso's Ferrari.

10 min: Hamilton is trying again with a rapid first sector time.

11 min: Di Resta reports that 'the traffic is a disaster' as he tries to get a clear lap around the 5.554km circuit.

11 min: More purple times through the second sector for Hamilton and he gets it stopped for Turn 11 this time as well.

12 min: A clear run through the final sector for Hamilton and he's finally on top of the times by over six tenths - a 1m41.497s.

12 min: With that statement, the Scot pitted and he is down in 16th with still two Red Bulls to come.

12 min: Webber moves into 12th place at the completion of a building lap - 1m42.947s.

13 min: Red Bull team-mate Vettel's first effort places him 13th, just behind the Australian.

13 min: Replays show that Vettel is already pushing the limits in these cooling track conditions. He ran wide, almost touching the barrier.

13 min: Kobayashi is down in a worrying 16th after the first attempt and deploys soft rubber on his Sauber.

14 min: Perez is up in a strong sixth and looks comfortably through.

14 min: All 24 drivers now have a time on the board. Vergne, Kovalainen, Pic, Glock, de la Rosa, Petrov and Karthikeyan are in the dropzone.

15 min: Di Resta is on the bubble in 17th position after his traffic woes. He is back out there with a set of soft tyres bolted on to the car.

15 min: More pace from Ferrari now with Alonso back in second and Massa now up to third.

15 min: Vergne is also back out there in 18th place. He is three-tenths down on di Resta.

16 min: Grosjean is currently 13th and has gone back out on medium compound.

17 min: Di Resta moves out of danger and up to eighth spot with a time of 1m42.572s.

17 min: That lap from the Force India driver puts Kobayashi into danger in 17th spot.

17 min: And Vergne is quicker through the first sector of the lap, as he bids to move out of 18th place and the dropzone.

18 min: Near the front,. Webber moves up to second spot behind Hamilton, with a time of 1m41.933s.

18 min: Perez has dropped to 10, with Sauber saying it is a gamble to try a second attempt on the medium compound.

18 min: Vettel is now up in fifth spot and well out of any danger zone.

18 min: The McLaren and Ferrari drivers are back in the pits and comfortably through to the second segment.

19 min: Vergne is also better in the second sector and he... He spins! Vergne loses the car and has to go again.

19 min: Kobayashi remains under threat down in 17th and needs to make this lap count.

19 min: Vergne spun at Turn 20 as he pushed to get out of 18th spot. But now he is on his last attempt.

20 min: The flag is out on Q1 in the UAE.

13:20 This is not a spectacular lap from Vergne and he could be out of it soon.

13:21 Kobayashi's lap isn't great and he stays 17th but the pressure is off with Vergne struggling to find improvement.

13:21 Vergne crosses the line and does not improve. He is eliminated.

13:21 Pic grabs a great 19th place in his Marussia.

13:22 Kovalainen takes his familiar 19th at the end, but Pic splits the Caterhams with Petrov now 21st.

13:22 Stewards will be looking at an incident between Perez and Senna after the session.

13:22 The first period of qualifying is complete and the following seven drivers have been eliminated:

18) Vergne 1m44.058s
19) Kovalainen 1m44.956s
20) Pic 1m45.089s
21) Petrov 1m45.151s
22) Glock 1m45.426s
23) de la Rosa 1m45.766s
24) Karthikeyan 1m46.382s.

13:23 It's the eighth failure to make it through Q1 this season for Vergne.

13:23 So Kobayashi's 1m43.582s was enough to make it through 17th in the end, with the Japanese failing to find late improvement.

13:24 The Toro Rosso driver was looking good to at least challenge Kobayashi, but that spin in Turn 20 did the damage.

13:25 Replays show that Senna was pushing hard on a lap, but Perez was immediately in front holding the line for several corners, before yielding.

13:26 An extremely disappointed Vergne is talking to reporters as he walks through the paddock.

13:26 So we have 17 drivers left. Their next challenge is simple - they have 15 minutes to try and secure a berth in the top 10 shootout.

0 min: The sun is setting rapidly now as Q2 gets underway.

0 min: No immediate takers in the opening seconds of the segment.

0 min: But di Resta does join the circuit to get things underway.

1 min: Perez, who could be in trouble later for impeding Senna, heads out on soft tyres.

1 min: The Lotus pair are now out on softs as well.

1 min: Maldonado is also on track in the other Williams, followed by Rosberg and Schumacher.

1 min: Hamilton tries the soft tyres for this attempt.

2 min: Webber joins the circuit, leaving Red Bull team-mate Vettel in the garage.

2 min: Button is on option rubber as well. It will be interesting to see the McLaren pace now, with the team very strong here on the harder tyres.

2 min: Vettel heads out for his run, with Hulkenberg the only driver left in the pits.

3 min: Di Resta is well into his first attempt now, with soft tyres in widespread use.

4 min: Perez sets the first time at a 1m42.313s, some three tenths quicker than his earlier attempt on medium rubber.

4 min: Interestingly, di Resta aborts that attempt and comes back into the pits. It certainly wasn't traffic issues this time.

4 min: Hulkenberg is now on the circuit in the other Force India entry.

5 min: Maldonado briefly slots into second spot with a time of 1m41.907s.

5 min: Raikkonen is next to top the order with a 1m41.635s lap.

5 min: But it doesn't last long as Grosjean pips his team-mate to the top time.

5 min: Webber quickly asserts himself at the head of the list with a time of 1m41.558s.

6 min: Rosberg and Schumacher are down in eighth and ninth after their first lap, with other drivers still to register a time.

6 min: Hamilton clocks 1m41.366s to take over at the top using softs. He's just over a tenth faster than the best in Q1 on medium tyres.

6 min: Vettel is only 14th after his first lap following a mistake. His time is 1m45.452s. Not smooth sailing here for the German.

7 min: Alonso tops the first sector and comes around in 1m41.514s to go second fastest.

7 min: Alonso is following Webber on the road and doesn't appear happy with the Red Bull driver.

7 min: Could it be that the issues from final practice and he graze against the barrier in Q1 have unsettled him? He has minimal time to sort it.

7 min: Hamilton has cooled his tyres and is on another quick attempt.

8 min: "Let's stay calm," Alonso is told from the pits.

8 min: Vettel gets a better lap - a cleaner lap - with no errors and moves into second spot behind Hamilton with a time of 1m41.511s.

8 min: Di Resta is back out there. He is the only man yet to post a time on the board.

9 min: Webber jumps ahead of team-mate Vettel and into second spot with a time of 1m41.277s.

9 min: Hamilton finds traffic in the form of Alonso through the final sector but still tops the times again in a quick 1m40.901s.

9 min: So the order is Hamilton up front with Webber second, Vettel third, Alonso fourth, Grosjean fifth and Raikkonen in sixth.

9 min: Button has ended up eighth after the first run and is back in the garage. He will have to try again.

10 min: Hulkenberg pops in a lap of 1m42.019s to go 10th. That drops Rosberg and Schumacher to 11th and 12th positions.

10 min: Hamilton is heading back to the McLaren garage and looks safely through to his 18th Q3 segment of the season - the only man to make them all

10 min: Di Resta is coming towards the end of his first timed lap in this segment. His team-mate is 10th in the classification.

11 min: Di Resta slots into 11th spot with a time of 1m42.218s.

11 min: Not looking so good for Sauber at the moment with Perez in 14th and Kobayashi 16th.

11 min: Massa and Button both head out for another go.

12 min: All 17 drivers have now posted a time on the board. Di Resta, Rosberg, Schumacher, Perez, Senna, Kobayashi and Ricciardo are in the dropzone.

12 min: Perez improves to 11th, with Kobayashi only managing 15th.

13 min: The Mercedes pair have slipped to 13th and 14th. Both drivers are just starting a timed lap.

13 min: Raikkonen has gone for another run in his Lotus, as has team-mate Grosjean.

13 min: Di Resta and Rosberg are equal through the first sector point, at 17.9s.

14 min: Schumacher is two-tenths slower than them and this is not looking good for the German.

14 min: Rosberg is now the fastest of all through the middle sector of the lap, as he bids to try and get into the top 10.

15 min: Rosberg crosses the line and moves up to seventh with a lap of 1m41.698s.

13:42 The flag is out with laps continuing.

13:42 Maldonado is now on the bubble in 10th.

13:42 Perez makes his final attempt but can only manage 12th and won't be in Q3.

13:42 Schumacher does not have another lap and he backs off. He is eliminated.

13:43 Button has slipped to a dangerous ninth and is not on a good lap.

13:43 Senna is the only realistic candidate left to threaten the top 10. He is coming towards the end of his last attempt.

13:43 Senna loses time and crosses the line in 15th, so his team-mate survives and is through.

13:45 The second period of qualifying is complete and the following seven drivers have been eliminated:

11) Hulkenberg 1m42.019s
12) Perez 1m42.084s
13) di Resta 1m42.218s
14) Schumacher 1m42.289s
15) Senna 1m42.330s
16) Kobayashi 42.606s
17) Ricciardo 1m42.765s.

13:45 Michael Schumacher fails to make it into the top 10 shootout, while his team-mate Rosberg progressed safely in seventh spot.

13:46 Schumacher only just missed the chance to get a second timed lap in by a few seconds.

13:46 Not a great afternoon for Sauber, as it struggles for pace here, with both drivers dumped out in the second segment.

13:47 Neither Force India drivers makes the shootout. Once again, both drivers were close, but not close enough.

13:47 Up front, Hamilton found good speed on the soft tyres and looks like a realistic challenger to the Red Bull dominance in the pole shootout.

13:47 All this benefitted Maldonado, who put in a solid performance to make it through ahead of Hulkenberg, by just over one-tenth of a second.

13:47 Alonso has found some speed in the Ferrari as well and needs to secure a strong grid slot to keep with the championship leader.

13:48 Alonso also has plenty of fresh rubber available after a clean run through the first two segments.

13:49 So here are the list of names that have made it through to the top 10 shootout:

Sebastian Vettel
Mark Webber
Jenson Button
Lewis Hamilton
Fernando Alonso
Felipe Massa
Nico Rosberg
Kimi Raikkonen
Romain Grosjean
Pastor Maldonado.

0 min: The battle for pole begins under the lights at Yas Marina.

0 min: Raikkonen is keen to get away and takes the lights at the end of the pitlane.

0 min: Hamilton, Alonso and Grosjean are also soon on track.

0 min: Rosberg heads out for a first run in the Mercedes.

1 min: Webber is on the circuit for Red Bull. His team-mate Vettel follows out a few seconds later.

2 min: Maldonado is one of only two drivers yet to emerge, while the early group are into a timed lap.

2 min: Rosberg is two-tenths slower than the Lotus pair through the first sector of the lap.

2 min: Hamilton is the fastest man through the first sector as the early attempts continue.

3 min: Webber is one-tenth down on Hamilton through the first sector of the lap.

3 min: Vettel two-tenths down on the flying Hamilton through sector one.

3 min: Raikkonen sets an initial 1m41.756s.

4 min: A battling lap from Alonso as he clocks a 1m41.582s to top the early times.

4 min: Rosberg goes into second place behind Alonso, with 1m41.603s.

4 min: Hamilton blows that away with a rapid 1m40.630s, over half a second clear at the top.

4 min: Webber slots into second spot, behind Hamilton with a lap of 1m41.228s.

4 min: Vettel takes that second spot from team-mate Webber with 1m41.093s.

5 min: So after the first run it is Hamilton on 1m40.630s, Vettel second, Webber third, Alonso fourth, Rosberg fifth and Button in sixth spot.

6 min: Massa is making a late start to his run on soft tyres.

6 min: Maldonado is now on the circuit for Williams. One run for the Venezuelan.

7 min: Hamilton has a massive margin of over four tenths on Vettel, but the team will still likely position him to defend from any late improvement

7 min: Massa has a few wobbles on his first try, going sixth fastest.

7 min: Button is only seventh in his McLaren after the first runs.

8 min: Webber and Vettel are in and back out onto the circuit for a final assault against that stunning time from Hamilton.

8 min: Hamilton is also out on fresh rubber for one last attempt.

8 min: Maldonado is now into his timed lap, but that's it for Rosberg as he walks in to get weighed. He is currently fifth.

9 min: Maldonado completes the lap and he goes third! P3 with a time of 1m41.226s.

9 min: So it is now Hamilton from Vettel, then Maldonado, Webber, Alonso and Rosberg.

10 min: Vettel posts 17.7s through the first sector on his final effort, but he needs to find a lot of time here.

10 min: Flag out but more to come...

14:01 Webber completes his final attempt and goes second with a time of 1m40.978s.

14:01 Hamilton is slightly off his earlier best through the middle sector.

14:01 Alonso fails to improve and stays a costly sixth.

14:01 Vettel comes round and this is nowhere near the flying McLaren. He stays third with 1m41.073s.

14:01 Button pushes Alonso down to seventh, with sixth in his McLaren.

14:01 Lewis Hamilton takes pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

14:01 Hamilton has been on fine form all weekend and will head the field tomorrow to try and halt Vettel's run of wins.

14:02 That is a dominant display from Hamilton and he jumps for joy in the weighing room. Webber grabs a spot on the front row with Vettel third.

14:03 Maldonado's great lap on his single run puts him in fourth place, with Raikkonen fifth and Button sixth in the other McLaren.

14:04 Drama as Vettel stops on the circuit, on his way back to the pits!

14:04 Stewards are also now investigating an unsafe release in that segment involving Grosjean being released into the path of Alonso.

14:05 Vettel has climbed out of the car and is leaning against the chassis looking less than pleased.

14:05 Vettel has been picked up by a course car and is now being transported back to the pits.

14:06 Replays show Vettel pulling up under the hotel when ordered to do so, with sanctions to follow if that Red Bull is short on fuel.

14:06 On the radio he was told by engineer Rocky 'Stop the car, stop the car.'

14:07 Vettel has arrived back in the pits and now will have to face the questions, as everyone waits to find out why the German did not reach parc ferme under his own steam.

14:08 Continuing with the order, Alonso ended up seventh, with Rosberg eighth, Massa ninth and Grosjean rounds out the top 10.

14:09 Stick with AUTOSPORT for the developing storylines from that interesting qualifying hour.

14:10 A dramatic end to the session and the grid could become more interesting yet. Join us tomorrow for all the race action from Abu Dhabi.

  OVERVIEW QUALIFYING  
Session length: 60 minutes
  CURRENT WEATHER
Clear skies High Temp: 29°C / 84°F
Track: Dry
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Friday 02 Nov Start GMT
 Friday practice one 08:55
 Friday practice two 12:55
Saturday 03 Nov
 Saturday practice 09:55
 Qualifying 12:50
Sunday 04 Nov
 The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 12:45
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