Saturday, 13 November 2010

Abu Dhabi Qually: Advantage Fred

So, the crunch qually session of the season comes and goes, and it's distinctly advantage Fred for the title. In a session wherein the Ferraris looked slightly off the pace of the Red Bulls and (good heavens) the McLarens, he undertook something of a save at the last moment to claim P3. Even better for the Spaniard, this isn't behind a Red Bull front two as usual, which would have been his doomsday scenario, his main title rival Mark Webber lines up fifth tomorrow.

Indeed, Fred seemed very satisfied with his afternoon/early evening's work, describing the qualifying result as 'great', and himself as 'very happy'.

It was a curious session, about the only thing that went to expectation was Seb taking pole, having been comfortably fastest, as he has been pretty much everywhere it seems these past couple of months. Webber was curiously off his team mate's pace. Rather than his usual smidgen behind Vettel's pace, he was upwards of half a second slower.

Those reliable judges of winners and losers, the bookies, share Fred's confidence, making him odds-on favourite to clinch the title tomorrow. Webber's odds have drifted out as far as 7/1 with one bookmaker. Most actually now have Vettel as second favourite to win the championship. Still, no points will be awarded until the end of the last lap tomorrow.

Behind Seb it is none other than Lewis Hamilton completing the front row. Lewis was comfortably on pole here last season, and the final sector of the lap could have been designed for him, with his ability to slide the rear of the car a particular advantage. Indeed, both the McLarens look back on it, featuring a new rear wing which is clearly working. Button lines up fourth. It's rather ironic that Hamilton could be Alonso's best friend tomorrow.

Massa appeared to be approaching something like his old form, and will line up 6th. If he can get in front of Webber and spoil his day a bit then maybe Ferrari will love him after all.

A side show tomorrow is who ends up sixth in the constructors' title, with Williams a point ahead of Force India. As things stand it's advantage Williams, Rubinho qualified seventh, and the best Force India could do was Sutil qualifying 13th.

Qualifying results and report on the Autosport website

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