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Hamilton seals pole

Vettel demoted to back of the field

Pole position man Lewis Hamilton flanked by Mark Webber (right), of Australia, and Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, yesterday.

Pole position man Lewis Hamilton flanked by Mark Webber (right), of Australia, and Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, yesterday.

A supremely-dominant Lewis Hamilton crushed all his rivals yesterday as he set up a Red Bull party-wrecking race in today’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by taking his sixth pole position of the season while a fuel issue saw season leader Sebastian Vettel demoted.

The 27-year-old Briton was simply untouchable as he steered his car to the fastest time in all three parts of the session, finishing with an outstanding best time of one minute and 40.630 seconds.

His dazzling display ended Red Bull's run of three consecutive races in which they dominated qualifying and produced front row lockouts.

To make matters worse for Red Bull, defending champion Vettel, who had missed the front row by qualifying third on the back of technical problems, was demoted and will start from the back of the field after he did not have sufficient fuel left in his tank for a fuel sample to be taken.

Vettel fell foul of F1 rules which dictate that cars must return to the pits with at least a litre of fuel on board to avoid a performance advantage.

Hamilton’s best lap, clocked on his first run in the top ten shootout, was good enough to leave him three-tenths of a second clear of Vettel teammate Mark Webber who will share the front row with him for today’s 55-laps race at the 5.554 kms Yas Marina Circuit.

Vettel’s main title rival, Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, endured a frustrating session – though the Spaniard was bumped up a place to sixth after Vettel’s demotion.

Williams’s Pastor Maldonado will start the race third, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus, McLaren’s Jenson Button and Alonso.

Hamilton’s pole was his sixth this year and the 25th of his career on a circuit that he clearly responds to with great elan – and gives him a perfect opportunity to upset the Red Bull express and end Vettel’s run of four consecutive wins in pursuit of his goal of becoming F1’s youngest triple world champion.

Hamilton, whose father Anthony has been with him in the paddock, said: “I’m very excited. It's the first time for a long time to be ahead of the Red 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.'

Today’s grid

1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)1:40.630
2. Mark Webber (Red Bull)1:40.978
3. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)*1:41.073
4. Pastor Maldonado (Williams)1:41.226
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)1:41.260
6. Jenson Button (McLaren)1:41.290
7. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)1:41.582
8. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)1:41.603
9. Felipe Massa (Ferrari)1:41.723
10. Romain Grosjean (Lotus)1:41.778
11. Nico Hulkenberg (F. India)1:42.019
12. Sergio Perez (Sauber)1:42.084
13. Paul di Resta (Force India)1:42.218
14. M. Schumacher (Mercedes)1:42.289
15. Bruno Senna (Williams)1:42.330
16. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)1:42.606
17. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)1:42.765
18. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)1:44.058
19. H. Kovalainen (Caterham)1:44.956
20. Charles Pic (Marussia)1:45.089
21. Vitaly Petrov (Caterham)1:45.151
22. Timo Glock (Marussia)1:45.426
23. Pedro de la Rosa (HRT)1:45.766
24. Narain Karthikeyan (HRT)1:46.382

* Vettel demoted to the back of the grid.

Drivers standings
1. Vettel (GER) 240, 2. Alonso (ESP) 227, 3. Raikkonen (FIN) 173, 4. Webber (AUS) 167, 5. Hamilton (GBR) 165, 6. Button (GBR) 141, 7. Rosberg (GER) 93, 8. Grosjean (FRA) 90, 9. Massa (BRA) 89, 10. Perez (MEX) 66, 11. Kobayashi (JPN) 50, 12. Hülkenberg (GER) 49, 13. Di Resta (GBR) 44, 14. Schumacher (GER) 43, 15. Maldonado (VEN) 33, 16. Senna (BRA) 26, 17. Vergne (FRA) 12, 18. Ricciardo (AUS) 9.

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