Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel will start the crucial F1 2010 season finale in Abu Dhabi from the front, having secured his tenth pole position of the year today in qualifying at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Vettel's best lap was a 1 minute 39.394 seconds, which put him just 0.031 seconds up on his closest challenger.
Team-mate Mark Webber meanwhile had a bad session and his hopes of overhauling Fernando Alonso and claiming the world championship title took a hit with the Australian restricted to fifth.
Webber repeatedly failed to improve on fourth position in the shoot-out, and was then demoted a further place by a late lap from Alonso, who slotted in behind Vettel and Lewis Hamilton at the front of the field.
In contrast to his team-mate, Vettel improved on his initial pole time to keep top spot out of the reach of Hamilton, who found no more time in his McLaren at the end of the ten-minute session. A further twist could come though if Hamilton is found guilty of impeding Felipe Massa in Q2, with any punishment promoting Alonso to the front row in a race where he only needs to finish second.
Jenson Button briefly held a front row spot, but had to settle for fourth after Alonso's charge, while Felipe Massa was sixth ahead of the Williams of Rubens Barrichello and Mercedes GP duo Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. Vitaly Petrov completed the top ten, making it through to the shoot-out for only the fifth time this year.
Robert Kubica was the 'big name' to go out in Q2, the first time the Renault driver has missed the cut all season. A late flying lap wasn't enough to save the lanky Pole, as a scrappy effort failed to improve on eleventh place and left him to watch the scrap for pole from the sidelines.
Sauber duo Kamui Kobayashi and Nick Heidfeld also went out and will start twelfth and fourteenth, split by the Force India of Adrian Sutil. Williams' Nico Hulkenberg - poleman in Brazil last Saturday of course – was only 15th ahead of the second Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari, who only narrowly escaped Q1 at the expense of team-mate Sebastien Buemi.
The Spaniard languished just ahead of the newcomer teams after being dumped into the drop zone by Kobayashi, who waited until after the chequered flag had fallen to find enough of an improvement to usurp Buemi. Buemi, running behind him on the track, then went perilously close to the barriers at the end of the lap and came up a tenth short of recovering his place in Q2.
As expected, the Swiss driver was joined in heading for the exit in Q1 by Lotus, Virgin and HRT, with Jarno Trulli getting the edge of Heikki Kovalainen for a place on row nine, while Virgin's Timo Glock and Hispania's Bruno Senna won their respective intra-team battles.
To see the full times from qualifying for the F1 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit: CLICK HERE.