• Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Qualifying

Vettel had to dig deep for pole

ESPNF1 Staff
November 12, 2011 « Hamilton 'blown away' by Alonso | Webber bemoans 'scrappy' qualifying »
Sebastian Vettel celebrates with his team © Sutton Images
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Sebastian Vettel admitted he had to dig deep to secure pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after feeling uncomfortable with the car up until Q2 in qualifying.

Vettel did not feature at the top of the timesheets during Friday practice and spun off in the evening session after an uncharacteristic mistake at turn one. But in qualifying he rocketed to the top of the timesheets, beating the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button by over a tenth of a second in Q3.

Asked if he had to dig deep to secure pole position, Vettel said: "Oh yes, especially after yesterday where, to be honest, I wasn't very happy with the car and we weren't happy in general. We thought there was more performance in the car but we couldn't really get to it, and this afternoon (in FP3) it was already quite a bit better … but this place is tricky in many ways. You have the practice on the one hand in day conditions when the sun is up and it's a little bit hotter and then in the evening you qualify and you race and the circuit is quite a bit different - the car behaves differently, the tyres come in differently - so it's not easy to get it right all the time.

"But in qualifying I had a much better feeling, especially moving onto the soft tyres. Already in Q2 we looked much better than before and then the other difficulty around here is to get everything into one lap - it's a long lap and especially in the final sector there are a lot of corners."

He added: "I was not so happy with my first run in Q3 but I was much happier with my second run, especially the first two sectors and with that I was buying myself a little bit of a cushion in the last sector, which was a bit trickier towards the end of the evening. But all in all it was enough to jump ahead of Lewis, who looked very strong all weekend, and it's good that in that session, when it matters, we were able to be just that little bit quicker than him."

Vettel added that it was very easy to make a mistake in the final sector, where, in Q3, he managed to match Hamilton for the first time all weekend.

"Once you turn into turn 11 at the end of the back straight it's basically just left, right, left, right, with plenty of opportunity to gain time but also risky because it's very easy to do a little mistake," he said. "It's very easy to lose a lot of time and we're not talking one hundredth of a second, it's immediately tenth or a tenth and a half."