Formula One

 
                 === Hamilton claims pole for Abu Dhabi GP ===
 
 Abu  Dhabi,  United Arab Emirates  (Sports Network) - McLaren's Lewis Hamilton
 won  the pole  for  the Abu  Dhabi  Grand Prix,  while  current points  leader
 Sebastian  Vettel was  excluded from Saturday's qualifying due to insufficient
 fuel in his car.
 
 Hamilton,  who is  leaving McLaren  and joining  Mercedes at  the end  of this
 season,  topped  Red Bull drivers Mark  Webber and Vettel in qualifying with a
 lap  around the  3.451-mile Yas  Marina Circuit  in 1  minute, 40.630.  It was
 Hamilton's sixth pole of the season and the 25th of his Formula One career. He
 also won the pole for the 2009 inaugural Abu Dhabi GP.
 
 Either  Vettel  or Webber  has won  the pole in  the last  three grand prix --
 Japan, Korea and India.
 
 "I'm  very excited," Hamilton  said. "It's the first time in a long time to be
 ahead  of the Red Bulls  and not have to see the tail end of them at the start
 of  the  race. As  always, I  know it's  going to  be very  tough in the race,
 because they have great race pace. I hope we're strong enough to fight them."
 
 Vettel, who presently holds a 13-point lead over Fernando Alonso from Ferrari,
 initially  finished  third in qualifying with  a lap at 1:41.073, but the two-
 time  defending F1  world champion stopped his  Red Bull car in turn 18 during
 his  slowdown lap. He  was told over his team radio to pull off to the side of
 the circuit following advice from engine supplier Renault.
 
 "I  don't know why  I had to stop," Vettel said after qualifying. "I was asked
 to stop. It's probably some problem, but it shouldn't be something major. This
 morning  (final  practice session) wasn't  ideal not being  able to run, so we
 didn't  get  the answers  that  we  were  hoping  for. Nevertheless,  we  were
 settling in quite well, and the pace was there.
 
 Race  stewards investigated  the  incident, and  after  a lengthy  discussion,
 stewards  accepted that  Vettel had stopped due to reasons of "force majeure,"
 but  there wasn't enough  fuel in his RB8 car to provide a one-liter sample in
 post-qualifying   scrutineering,  as   required  by   the  sport's   technical
 regulations.  Therefore,  Vettel will have to  start from pit lane, which puts
 him at the back of the 24-car field.
 
 "The  stewards heard  from the  driver  and team  representatives and  studied
 telemetry  evidence that  showed the  reason why  the car  was stopped,"  F1's
 governing  body, the  FIA, said  in a  statement. "The  stewards accepted  the
 explanation  and  considered the  incident as  being a  case of force majeure.
 However,  a report was received from the technical delegate that showed during
 post-qualifying  scrutineering  an insufficient  quantity of fuel for sampling
 purposes."
 
 Webber  will start alongside  Hamilton on the front row after posting a lap in
 1:40.978.
 
 "We  did  the best  we could,"  Webber said. "I  think it  was a pretty smooth
 qualifying session for both Seb and I. It's still a long way up the grid, so I
 think it went well."
 
 Vettel is attempting to win his fifth consecutive grand prix. His streak began
 in Singapore, and then he has led every lap to win in Japan, Korea and India.
 
 "During  the slowdown lap following the final run of Q3, Renault instructed to
 immediately  stop Sebastian's car on the circuit due to an issue with the fuel
 system,"  Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said after the FIA made its
 decision.  "We  will need  to make  the most  of Mark's  strong front row grid
 position, and Sebastian will have a busy evening ahead of him."
 
 In  May,  Hamilton lost  his  pole  position for  the  Spanish  Grand Prix  in
 Barcelona  after  stewards determined his car  did not have sufficient fuel on
 board during qualifying. Hamilton came to a stop on the track at the end of Q3
 after  being  told by the  team to pull  over. McLaren determined there wasn't
 enough fuel in his car to enable it to return under its own power to pit road.
 He finished eighth in that race.
 
 Hamilton  is the defending  winner of the Abu Dhabi GP. He was quickest in the
 first  and  third practice sessions  here prior to  being fastest in all three
 qualifying segments.
 
 "The team has done a fantastic job all weekend, and the car has felt beautiful
 all weekend," he said. "I don't know why the car works so well here. We've not
 really  made  any improvements to the  car since the  last race, so I guess it
 just suits the track."
 
 With  Vettel  now starting from  the rear of  the field, Pastor Maldonado from
 Williams  will  roll off third, followed  by followed by Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen
 and Hamilton's teammate, Jenson Button.
 
 Alonso  will start  sixth in what had been a disappointing performance for him
 in qualifying.
 
 "We  were  not competitive today,"  he said.  "Normally, the pace improves for
 Sunday, so let's hope we can recover some pace."
 
 Starting  seventh  through 10th will  be: Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, Felipe Massa
 from Ferrari and Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg from Force India.
 
 Sunday's 55-lap Abu Dhabi GP is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. (ET).
 
 11/03 17:56:58 ET

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