Jenson Button, McLaren, Abu Dhabi, 2009

Changing conditions hinder Hamilton but help Button

Abu Dhabi GP qualifying analysis

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Lewis Hamilton wasn’t the only driver who failed to improve his time in Q3 – six others did as well.

Sebastian Vettel was one of only two drivers to set a better time in Q3 than in Q2.

But Jenson Button felt the changing conditions helped him get the most out of the McLaren.

Qualifying times in full

  • Hamilton was not the only driver who failed to improve his time in Q3. Of the nine drivers who set times, six did laps that were slower than their Q2 times, and Fernando Alonso matched his Q2 effort to one-thousandth of a second.
  • Vettel and Button were the only drivers not to be caught out by falling track temperatures between the two sessions.
  • “Q3 was very strange,” admitted Button. “There was less grip because it was a lot cooler on the circuit.”
  • Button said the changing conditions played into his hands, which is borne out by the times below: “The car was acting differently, which in some ways was a good thing for me because I didn’t get enough front end grip into the car. All weekend I’ve been struggling with a nervous rear. Finally when we go into qualifying I’ve got massive amounts of understeer, which is more in the direction I like, but in the tight section towards the end of the lap you need a reasonably pointy car and I didn’t have that.”
Driver Car Q1

Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1’40.478 1’38.516 (-1.962) 1’38.481 (-0.035)
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1’39.782 1’38.434 (-1.348) 1’38.622 (+0.188)
3 Jenson Button McLaren 1’40.227 1’39.097 (-1.130) 1’38.631 (-0.466)
4 Mark Webber Red Bull 1’40.167 1’38.821 (-1.346) 1’38.858 (+0.037)
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’41.380 1’39.058 (-2.322) 1’39.058 (0.000)
6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’41.592 1’39.623 (-1.969) 1’39.695 (+0.072)
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’41.120 1’39.420 (-1.700) 1’39.773 (+0.353)
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’42.605 1’40.554 (-2.051) 1’40.662 (+0.108)
9 Adrian Sutil Force India 1’40.595 1’40.205 (-0.390) 1’40.768 (+0.563)
10 Paul di Resta Force India 1’41.064 1’40.414 (-0.650)
11 Sergio Perez Sauber 1’41.311 1’40.874 (-0.437)
12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’40.955 1’40.919 (-0.036)
13 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1’41.737 1’41.009 (-0.728)
14 Bruno Senna Renault 1’41.391 1’41.079 (-0.312)
15 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1’41.386 1’41.162 (-0.224)
16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1’41.613 1’41.240 (-0.373)
17 Pastor Maldonado Williams 1’42.258 1’41.760 (-0.498)
18 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1’42.979
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus 1’43.884
20 Timo Glock Virgin 1’44.515
21 Daniel Ricciardo HRT 1’44.641
22 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 1’44.699
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT 1’45.159
24 Rubens Barrichello Williams

Team mate comparisons

Compare the best times of each team’s drivers in the last part of qualifying in which they both set a time.

  • Heikki Kovalainen out-qualified Jarno Trulli for the 15th time in the 17 races they have been team mates this year.
  • Daniel Ricciardo impressively out-qualified Vitantonio Liuzzi by half a second. The pair are tied 4-4 in qualifying this year.
  • Sergio Perez beat Kamui Kobayashi and is now 11-6 up this year.
Team Driver Lap time Gap Lap time Driver Round
Red Bull Sebastian Vettel 1’38.481 -0.377 1’38.858 Mark Webber Q3
McLaren Lewis Hamilton 1’38.622 -0.009 1’38.631 Jenson Button Q3
Ferrari Fernando Alonso 1’39.058 -0.637 1’39.695 Felipe Massa Q3
Mercedes Michael Schumacher 1’40.662 +0.889 1’39.773 Nico Rosberg Q3
Renault Bruno Senna 1’41.079 +0.160 1’40.919 Vitaly Petrov Q2
Force India Adrian Sutil 1’40.205 -0.209 1’40.414 Paul di Resta Q2
Sauber Kamui Kobayashi 1’41.240 +0.366 1’40.874 Sergio Perez Q2
Toro Rosso Sebastien Buemi 1’41.009 -0.153 1’41.162 Jaime Alguersuari Q2
Lotus Heikki Kovalainen 1’42.979 -0.905 1’43.884 Jarno Trulli Q1
HRT Daniel Ricciardo 1’44.641 -0.518 1’45.159 Vitantonio Liuzzi Q1
Virgin Timo Glock 1’44.515 -0.184 1’44.699 Jerome D’Ambrosio Q1

Sector times

Here are the drivers? best times in each sector.

Driver Sector 1 Sector 2 Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel 17.408 (1) 41.857 (1) 38.933 (2)
Lewis Hamilton 17.518 (5) 41.908 (3) 38.886 (1)
Jenson Button 17.429 (2) 41.905 (2) 39.297 (4)
Mark Webber 17.441 (4) 42.036 (5) 39.235 (3)
Fernando Alonso 17.440 (3) 42.078 (6) 39.297 (4)
Felipe Massa 17.536 (6) 42.304 (7) 39.714 (6)
Nico Rosberg 17.634 (8) 41.943 (4) 39.800 (7)
Michael Schumacher 17.758 (16) 42.412 (8) 40.088 (9)
Adrian Sutil 17.694 (14) 42.444 (9) 40.056 (8)
Paul di Resta 17.670 (11) 42.471 (10) 40.258 (10)
Sergio Perez 17.629 (7) 42.597 (13) 40.512 (12)
Vitaly Petrov 17.692 (13) 42.613 (14) 40.576 (13)
Sebastien Buemi 17.649 (9) 42.670 (15) 40.576 (13)
Bruno Senna 17.657 (10) 42.737 (16) 40.441 (11)
Jaime Alguersuari 17.670 (11) 42.557 (11) 40.755 (17)
Kamui Kobayashi 17.713 (15) 42.579 (12) 40.685 (15)
Pastor Maldonado 17.924 (17) 43.137 (17) 40.699 (16)
Heikki Kovalainen 18.139 (18) 43.472 (18) 41.290 (18)
Jarno Trulli 18.446 (22) 43.597 (19) 41.841 (19)
Timo Glock 18.314 (20) 43.975 (20) 42.186 (21)
Daniel Ricciardo 18.251 (19) 44.006 (21) 42.110 (20)
Jerome D’Ambrosio 18.358 (21) 44.043 (22) 42.298 (22)
Vitantonio Liuzzi 18.486 (23) 44.148 (23) 42.405 (23)
Rubens Barrichello

Speed trap

Here are the drivers? maximum speeds.

  • Toro Rosso have lost some of their straight-line speed advantage overnight, leaving Sauber the quickest car in the speed traps.
  • The different in the McLarens’ top speeds indicated Hamilton may be running less wing, which could help him take on the Red Bull’s in the race.
Pos Driver Car Speed (kph/mph) Gap
1 Sergio Perez Sauber 323.4 (201.0)
2 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 322.8 (200.6) -0.6
3 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 320.2 (199.0) -3.2
4 Pastor Maldonado Williams 320.0 (198.8) -3.4
5 Bruno Senna Renault 319.2 (198.3) -4.2
6 Vitaly Petrov Renault 318.9 (198.2) -4.5
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 317.7 (197.4) -5.7
8 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 317.5 (197.3) -5.9
9 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 316.9 (196.9) -6.5
10 Paul di Resta Force India 316.2 (196.5) -7.2
11 Lewis Hamilton McLaren 316.2 (196.5) -7.2
12 Adrian Sutil Force India 315.9 (196.3) -7.5
13 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 313.8 (195.0) -9.6
14 Felipe Massa Ferrari 313.4 (194.7) -10.0
15 Daniel Ricciardo HRT 313.0 (194.5) -10.4
16 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT 312.8 (194.4) -10.6
17 Jenson Button McLaren 311.8 (193.7) -11.6
18 Mark Webber Red Bull 308.9 (191.9) -14.5
19 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 308.5 (191.7) -14.9
20 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 307.8 (191.3) -15.6
21 Jarno Trulli Lotus 307.6 (191.1) -15.8
22 Jerome D’Ambrosio Virgin 305.6 (189.9) -17.8
23 Timo Glock Virgin 305.0 (189.5) -18.4

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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47 comments on “Changing conditions hinder Hamilton but help Button”

  1. Hamilton lost alot of time between second and third corner because he ran wide there and also had to drive to the right hand side corner to get a better turn in to the fourth corner

    1. Why did he run wide? That would be the question

      1. probably came in wrong around turn 1 and had a poor angle through turn 2 I guess?

        1. My point was that sure; you could say that Hamilton had the pace for pole; but the thing is he made mistakes on his lap.

          1. Exactly lol the guy above was just stating where he lost time, I noticed him run wide there as well and that probably cost him pole. End of the day a clean lap gets you pole, that’s all. Without his mistakes, he definitely would make them 0.18 deficit to seb.. As shown in his Q2 pace, albeit in marginal temperature differences

    2. In addition to his disappointing first sector, Hamilton also lost more than a tenth in the second sector compared to his first Q3 effort (being more than 0.25s down on Button by that time), so I feared he would slip to P4, if Webber and Vettel would also improve. It turned out that Webber didn’t improve, and I was stunned that he managed to get all that time back from Jenson. Even without looking at the sector times (I was watching at a friend’s place) if was under no illusion that he was going to beat Vettel to pole.

      For Hamilton’s fans – and for those who long to see someone other than Vettel on pole – it’s a shame that Hamilton is not as good as Vettel at putting in those final Q3 laps. In Hungary this year we also saw that Hamilton had the pace to take pole, but he produced a messy second Q3 lap, whereas Vettel habitually improves by a few tenths on his second lap.

    3. @dam00r

      I watched it 4 times and still cant see a mistake from Lewis in his last Q3 lap:

      It was a very standard lap, so I think Keith is right: changeable conditions hindered Hamilton!

      1. Thats from 2010 you are a year late buddy.

  2. Would be interesting if the race saw changing fortunes and a tight field up front like today!

  3. When I thought Jenson was going to be on pole I was so disappointed to see Lewis beat him by so little! Then Seb took a greater margin.
    I’m diasppointed by Massa and Liuzzi.

    1. Button should’ve done better. Hamilton was 0.149s after Button in Sector 1. but HAM was faster than BUT over the finish line. So what was Button doing in S2 and S3? Not an Class A driver as Hamilton

      1. So by that logic Hamilton was not a Class A driver in the first sector and Button was not a Class A driver in the 2nd and 3rd sector. Is that what you’re saying?

        1. No. Hamilton pushes and Button is just driving too comfortably

          1. Apparently the pushing was only worth 0.009s

          2. Don’t be silly @dam00r . “Driving too comfortably” has Button 38 points and 1 win ahead, with two more mechanical DNFs.

  4. Jackbrabhamfan
    12th November 2011, 16:16

    And Alonso matched Q2 his time! There is no reason to believe that Lewis would not have matched his Q2 time which was faster than Vettel’s pole winning lap.

    The fact is as the BBC commentators noted Button and Lewis were sent one after the other and this move contrasted unfavorably with the Red Bull strategy. TO make it worse Alonso got in between Jenson and Lewis.

    I cannot understand for the life of me, why Mclaren would send a guy who was .63 seconds slower in Q2 just ahead of the guy who set the fastest lap of the weekend. And didn’t have the foresight to that Alonso would slot in between Lewis and Jenson.

    1. Hamilton was far enough behind Alonso and Button to not be affected by dirty air.

    2. don’t go blaming mclaren, there were 4 seconds between the Ferrari and Hamilton, he simply didn’t get the most out of the car when it mattered, likewise Button as well.

  5. JackBrabhamfan
    12th November 2011, 16:30

    From the headline, one would assume that Button beat Hamilton!

    1. You might, I wouldn’t.

      1. JackBrabhamFan
        12th November 2011, 18:08

        Of course you wouldn’t! Its your post!

        1. i thought i was the only one that headline i think is not the best one although keith will argue all day long

      2. thats because Keith is a great journalist also, we all assume that Hamilton is quicker than Button especially after the FPS.

        1. sure he is that’s why we all come here but it don’t mean all the headlines are great does it?

    2. See, what I would assume from the headline is that the changing conditions helped Button improve his time, whereas the opposite happened to Hamilton. And…oh, hey, what do you know!

      1. JackBrabhamFan
        12th November 2011, 18:14

        Hey, what do we all know? Though the fact remains that the BBC crew questioned the Mclaren strategy as soon as the final run started and contrasted unfavorable with the Red Bull strategy. . And I assume they know what they are talking about!

        1. No, I meant “what do you know” as an expression that means something like “Oh, and hey, I was right, surprisingly enough!” Slight miscommunication, there, I think…

          1. Maybe it’s an American thing…

          2. you were using an expression and JackBrabhamFan used the same with a slight tense difference. I believe that you are a bit confused with yourself.

          3. @ukfanatic No, I think he thought I was asking what he actually knew, when I was just using the phrase as an exclamation that didn’t mean anything like that.

            I’m also led to believe he didn’t know what I meant by the fact that he mentioned the BBC crew, which had nothing whatsoever to do with what I was talking about. I was talking about the interpretation of Keith’s headline, and that’s it!

  6. There’s always something that costs Hamilton pole & gives it to Vettel every single time,I dont think its any changes to Track Temperatures or Cars,Maybe its due to Vettel having a clean track to himself(sent out last) & having More Rubber(Grip) layed for him,from his other pole contenders.

    1. You’re right it’s neither of those’s the fact that Vettel is just better then Hamilton.. especially in setting fastest laps when it counts..

      1. I think Lewis is also starting to think the same, that Vettel is better than he is.

  7. Once again Schumacher was the best part of a second off Rosberg’s pace today. Yet, once again, his failings have been largely covered up by the unique pace of his Mercedes: considerably slower than the front runners, but well ahead of the mid-field.

    If Schumacher were in a mid-field team (e.g. the Force India) he wouldn’t be making it through Q1, never mind challenging the top 10. Schumacher needs to move over and give someone more deserving a chance. His return to F1 appears increasingly gratuitous.

    1. His qualifying has been poor, but his race pace has been good enough to warrant his place in the Mercedes-Benz.

      1. One claims Button isn’t an A class driver because Hamilton supposedly “pushed”. The other wants out a racer who has some 93% of the points of a racer many consider to be one one of the best in the grid.

        And one would think F1 wound attract viewers who are able to pass minimum intelligence standards.

        1. leave lard alone.. obviously the only thing which matters in F1 is the qualifying pace and since Schumi is behind Rosberg he needs to leave F1 NOW.. ok.. let’s get back to reality now..

    2. I don’t exactly know why, but I’ve warmed to Schumacher recently, having never liked him before. When I was much younger, he was Mika Häkkinen’s great rival, and when I was a teenager, he was dominating the sport in a way that I found extremely boring. When he came out of retirement, I thought it was a mistake, and on a Guardian article where everyone in the comments section was raving about his return, I predicted he wouldn’t win a race in the first two years, and probably wouldn’t even get onto the podium. It looks like I am almost certainly going to be proved right, but strangely I take no joy in that. I am actually willing him on these days.

      I think I have come to respect him for his continuing and complete dedication to the sport, which can’t always be easy with a poor car underneath him, especially at his age. I’ve not heard him complain once, about anything, since he made his comeback, and he just seems to be getting on with it quietly and efficiently. His qualifying performances haven’t been great, but in the races, he is matching Nico Rosberg’s pace and has finished higher than his team-mate quite a few times recently. I think the end of next year will be the right time for him to (re-)retire, and he won’t do so as a world champion, but I think just about everyone would love to see him win a race before then. I think it would bring a smile to my face, as well as his.

      1. great comment.. good to see some sensible ones in midst of all this blind fanaticism..

      2. I feel the same Estesak, to an extent. He seems to have not learnt that competition has to be fair (Hungary, Reubens) but i wanted to believe that he was THAT good that age would not be a defining factor.
        Maybe his ruthlessness overrides his skill, maybe the clout of Ferrari was the defining factor, maybe the team of Brawn, Byrne and Schumy was like the Beatles- right time, right place, right people. We will never know.

        All I know is that Red bull are the Beatles of now- for this read Williams or McLaren of the 90’s.

        All I know is Adrian Newey is damn good at what he does. How early did Seb open the flap on the last corner to get pole? Jenson tried the same earlier and oversteered- not his favourite place to be.

      3. Thanks for the positive feedback on my comment. I should just add that the Mika Häkkinen reference was because I am half-Finnish, and Häkkinen is my all-time favourite F1 driver :)

        Bernification, I think Schumacher learnt from that incident with Rubens Barrichello, or at the very least, he was shrewd enough to notice the hugely negative reaction to what he did, and won’t do it again. If you look at his scrap with Lewis Hamilton in Italy, he could perhaps be accused of making two moves while defending corners, but both drivers managed to keep it clean and fair. By the by, I was very encouraged to see so much patience from Hamilton in that race – with the championship already gone, I thought he could use the rest of the season as a learning experience, without having to take unnecessary risks – but then Whitmarsh had to come out and say that he wants the old Hamilton back, prompting him to crash into Felipe Massa at the next race in Singapore, and a handful of times since then as well!

  8. Strange Hamilton is running less wing, but was slower than the higher winged Button in the straights of the first 2 sectors, and faster in the downforce dependent bit at the end

  9. What surprised me was that at least Hamilton and perhaps some others didn’t try to do Q2 on mediums. Ok, it might not have worked out because of the red flag, but they couldn’t have known that. Hamilton’s 1m39.7s from Q1, set at the end of a lengthy run, was well within the Q3 cutoff. Perhaps tyre-wear is not that crucial here, but I nevertheless feel that a fresh set of softs is something special in this Pirelli age.

  10. Heikki out-qualifying Jarno again, and this time with almost a second. Great stuff from Heikki! One more year with Lotus (Caterham) and then I’d like him to move to a more competitive team unless they improve significantly.

  11. Williams are going to be starting 23rd and 24th…and it is barely the drivers fault at all. I bet they can’t WAIT for the season to end.

  12. This analysis just goes to show that tyres really could liven this race up, perhaps more so than most. We will have to keep an eye out for mid to late tyre changes where the temperature drop may catch some drivers out.

Comments are closed.