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GP Week : Issue 234
QUALIFYING Another Nico Rosberg pole position may have been the story at the very front of the grid, but it was the man who put his car one row back that stole the show. Sergio Perez qualified fourth fastest, behind the two class- leading Mercedes and Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari. Perez's Force India has had nothing like the sort of development any of the cars ahead of him had, nor for that matter many of those behind him, and yet throughout Friday and Saturday he'd shown himself to be a very serious contender. He'd been fast in opening practice, but with conditions nothing like those in which the drivers would qualify or race it was dismissed as an anomaly; an interesting side story but one which would be found out when the serious action started. But then the Mexican did it again, and once more in final practice to suggest that maybe the pace was genuine. If any doubts lingered they were quickly put to bed in qualifying. The secret to Perez's pace was consistency. While others were faster through each sector he was among the quickest around the entire lap, stringing a time together that his direct rivals were unable to match. Rosberg was predictably the pace setting in all three sectors, but Felipe Massa and Daniel Ricciardo showed speed in the first and third sectors respectively. They didn't have the pace in the remainder of the lap though, meaning while they gained on Perez on one part, they lost out to him on two parts of the circuit. Ricciardo was only 11th fastest through the first split, but was second best through the third which suggested the car handled well but lacked the top speed needed down the two long straights. The same could be said for McLaren, which were both desperately slow down the straights, though Jenson Button in particular was more competitive through the twisty final sector. Fascinatingly the McLaren's were still faster than both Ferrari powered Sauber's in the first third, while Marcus Ericsson lacked pace all the way around the Yas Marina circuit. Ferrari was fast but over confident in the final moments of Q1, and paid dearly for it. Sebastian Vettel's first lap was comparatively poor, leaving him at risk of being eliminated unless he improved. He'd set about doing that in the final moments of the session only to abandon the lap when the team declared his previous time fast enough to 24 GPWEEK.com // 24 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> ABU DHABI PARTNERS: Rosberg takes pole but all eyes on Perez