Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion, flew his sixth pole position of the season after leading in the qualifying session in Abu Dhabi.
The 27-year-old was fastest throughout all three sessions around the stunning Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Red Bull’s Mark Webber finished a third of a second behind Hamilton, while championship favourite Sebastian Vettel finished third marking, the first time he has failed to make the front row of this event.
“We are set for one of the most exciting Abu Dhabi Race weekends to date, “said Richard Cregan, Chief Executive Officer of Yas Marina Circuit.
“The buzz on the track today has been fantastic. People are happy and smiling, lots of families. It really is great, and a testament to the quality of the race and Abu Dhabi as a world-class host.”
According to the Circuit, an unprecedented 35 per cent of ticket sales were from regional and international fans, who will be visiting Abu Dhabi this weekend. Key international growth markets for 2012 included Australia, UK, Europe and the US.
The fans have been able to get an up-close look at the Pit Lane, and greet their favourite drivers, and to take advantage of the array of entertainment on offer in the Oasis areas.
Since 2009, people have come from all around the world to experience the Etihad Airways Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi. Long-time Formula 1 fan Anthony Hvala travelled from Australia to Abu Dhabi to experience the race at Yas Marina Circuit for the first time.
He commented: “I travelled 30,000 kilometres for this. I’m very excited. I’ve been planning this for 12 months. I go every year in Melbourne but it’s my first time in Abu Dhabi.”
Abu Dhabi-based Ryan McPherson, who is originally from Scotland commented: “I’m excited about the race. It’s my first Grand Prix, and my aunt and uncle have come to join me.”