Sebastian Vettel did all he could to keep his marginal championship hopes alive by taking pole position for the title-decider in Abu Dhabi whilst Mark Webber could only qualify fifth – behind Fernando Alonso, who leads on points.
The two Red Bull drivers, speaking after what could be a pivotal qualifying session, understandably felt differently about how the session had gone.
Even if Vettel goes on to win the race tomorrow, he still needs Alonso, who starts third, to finish no higher than fifth here at the Yas Marina circuit. At the moment, the German is just focusing on his own race, and knows that he has put himself in the best possible position to claim his first title.
“I'm happy – it was a great lap and I'm proud of it,” he exclaimed. “It was a very tight qualifying session and it's even more thrilling when you know there's tension going into it and you know 'this is it'.
“We only did one run in Q3, so only one chance. We probably did more laps than the others, but we only used one set of tyres. Looking back I was surprised by how much the circuit ramped up at the end and maybe it would have been better to do two runs, but what we did was enough for pole.
“The car was fantastic today, much better than yesterday evening, so I think we made a step forward. I think we achieved the maximum we could today. Hopefully we will have a good start tomorrow and a good first lap and then it's a long race from there – so let's see what we can do.”
In contrast, Webber was not pleased with how the session had gone. However, the Aussie knows that Saturday decides nothing but the grid order, and that it is the result of tomorrow’s race which will determine the 2010 champion.
“I'm not rapped to be fifth on the grid, it's disappointing, but there's still a long way to go tomorrow – the fat lady hasn't sung yet,” he said – although some might argue that she is warming up.
“I would like to have been further up, but I couldn’t get the pace. We need to be there at the end of tomorrow's race and a lot can still happen; I haven't helped things today, but the Championship's not decided today. I didn’t seem to have the grip the other guys had and I need to have a look where I was losing time.
“We will just have to do the best job we can tomorrow, it's a long race – we're still in the hunt and that’s the main thing.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is in the difficult position of not being able to back any one of his drivers to take the title, but did praise Vettel after the German took his tenth pole position of the nineteen-race season.
“That was a very exciting last session; Sebastian completed an excellent lap on his second timed to get pole,” said Horner – who celebrates his 37th birthday on Tuesday.
“It was always going to a tricky choice with how many laps to do in the last session and both drivers decided that they wanted to do more than two. It was ultimately the choice of Sebastian and Mark to do three and four laps respectively. Mark ended up P5 unfortunately today and so is going to need a good start and a good race tomorrow.
“Today has set up a scintillating grid for the final race of the year.”