F1 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton battles for pole position

Lewis Hamilton on track ahead of the 2014 Abu Dhabi [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Lewis Hamilton on track ahead of the 2014 Abu Dhabi [Picture: Mercedes-Benz]

Mercedes-Benz

Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton battles for pole position in qualifying for the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit today (Saturday).

The 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas racer from Hertfordshire was fastest in Friday’s two qualifying sessions ahead of the season finale.

He topped the timesheets during the morning and afternoon sessions, with Silver Arrows colleague Nico Rosberg P2 in both.

Hamilton, however, has been outgunned in qualifying this season by Rosberg, who has claimed pole position 10 times to Hamilton’s seven.

The Yas Marina Circuit is one of the most elaborate racetracks in the world.

Yas Marina – the stats you need

* Race distance: 55 laps (305.355km/189.747 miles)

* Start time: 17:00 (local)/13:00 (GMT)

* Circuit length: 5.554km/3.451 miles

* 2013 winner: Sebastian Vettel

* 2013 pole: Mark Webber

* Lap record: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB5) 1m40.279s (199.387km/h)

Its unique features include a pitlane exit that passes underneath the track and pit garages that are air conditioned, and its lighting system is more powerful than anything found in a conventional stadium.

The 5.554km/3.451-mile track was completed just ahead of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009, since when it’s been a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar.

This year marks the third occasion that it has staged the season finale.

The track is located on a man-made island on the eastern side of Abu Dhabi.

Head to head

Before Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend

LEWIS HAMILTON

* Championship Position: P1

* Points: 334

* Wins: 10

* Podiums: 15

* Pole Positions: 7

* Front Row Starts: 14

* Fastest Laps: 7

* Laps Led: 455 (42% of season total)

* Sessions Led: 60 (48% of season total)

NICO ROSBERG

* Championship Position: P2

* Points: 317

* Wins: 5

* Podiums: 15

* Pole Positions: 10

* Front Row Starts: 14

* Fastest Laps: 5

* Laps Led: 482 (45% of season total)

* Sessions Led: 47 (37% of season total)

It was designed by Hermann Tilke, along with seven other tracks on this year’s calendar, and it winds its way around a 400-acre site that has a marina at its heart.

As is customary with Tilke-designed tracks, the circuit features three distinct sectors.

The lap starts off with a couple of fast sweeps.

It has two straights in the middle, along which the cars will exceed 300km/h through the two DRS zones, and it ends with a tight and twisty section that snakes past the Viceroy Hotel.

The track’s 21 corners are predominantly slow and medium-speed turns.

The race on Sunday starts in sunlight at 5pm and finishes in the dark, under floodlights, and the asphalt can cool by as much as 15 degrees during that time, which can affect the balance of the cars.

As for qualifying, Hamilton will be looking to avoid any mishaps and to secure a front-row start for Sunday’s title decider with Rosberg.

On nailing the perfect lap around the Yas Marina Circuit, Hamilton said: “Abu Dhabi is one of the newest circuits on the calendar and the venue is just spectacular – particularly with the twilight timing, starting off as the sun sets and finishing in complete darkness.

“For Turn One you need to make sure you get the car all the way over to the right-hand side of the track, braking just before the 100m sign and powering flat-out through the exit and uphill through Turn Two.

“You’re then into the long right-hander of Turn Three, which is seriously fast and just seems to keep going and going.

“That then switches straight into the slight left-hand kink of Turn Four, dropping you down the other side of the hill and into the stadium complex.”

Hamilton continued: “The Turn Five / Six chicane is really tight and very low grip, as is the Turn Seven hairpin which follows immediately afterwards.

“You have to take a really wide entry to this corner and it’s absolutely crucial to carry as much speed as possible, due to the mega long DRS straight which begins on exit.

“You brake really late into the first part of the Turn Eight / Nine chicane and it’s so easy to lock either the rears or the fronts.

“You have to take a really tight line to the first apex so that you can carry as much speed as possible through the second and down another DRS straight, which features the slight kind of Turn Ten.

“This is another prime overtaking opportunity and, if you don’t have a Mercedes-Benz power unit, you’re going to wish you had!”

Completing a lap, he added: “The Turn 10 / 11 / 13 combination is very low speed and the car is skating around all the time through here.

“You can brake late for the next left-hander at Turn 14 but, once again, hitting the apex is important as it’s so easy to run wide and ruin your exit.

“It’s flat out through the double right of Turns 15 / 16 and you have to get the steering straight as early as possible for braking into Turn 17 as it’s easy to lock the right front.

“You can carry quite a lot of speed through the two left handers of Turns 18 / 19, taking a lot of kerb and running wide on the exit of 18 in particular, before a short blast down the straight into Turn 20.

“You have to brake just a little bit into here, carrying as much speed as possible before backing right off for the final corner – using all of the run off as you head down across the start / finish line to complete the lap.”


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