Panasonic Toyota Racing completed Formula 1's first-ever twilight qualifying session today, for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the stunning new Yas Marina Circuit. Jarno Trulli earned his ninth top-six start of the year while Kamui Kobayashi, in just his second Grand Prix, again performed admirably. First qualifying began in natural sunlight, with both drivers completing an opening stint on the soft compound Bridgestone Potenza tyres before switching to medium rubber to progress to the second session, with Jarno in third. When that began, the artificial lighting system was already necessary and the medium tyres again proved to be the rubber of choice, with both drivers putting in five timed laps towards the end. Jarno eased into the final session but Kamui missed out by just a tenth of a second, leaving him to start from the sixth row after his first dry Formula 1 qualifying experience. Jarno was fighting for the top three in third qualifying, again on medium tyres, but just slipped out in the final seconds, leaving him on the third row for the final race of the season.
Jarno Trulli: "It was a difficult session because it was an extremely hard fight in hot conditions; the lap times were really close despite it being a long circuit. I felt I got it right in each session and I am happy with sixth place. It's fun to be fighting at the front of the grid so it was a nice experience again for me. Obviously you always want to be even higher but we have done a good job so far this weekend and we deserved to be in the top six. The car feels strong and I think we are looking pretty good for the race so I'm looking forward to the fight."
Kamui Kobayashi: "I was hoping to be in the top 10 here but it was my first time in Formula 1 to qualify in dry conditions, so I needed to get used to it. Free practice has gone well all weekend and the car felt good. Qualifying wasn't easy but in the end I was only a tenth or so away from the top 10 so for my first time qualifying in the dry it's not bad. I have been trying to focus on my race pace this weekend so I am quite confident for tomorrow. I will try my best and I hope to fight for the points again; we'll see what we can do."
Pascal Vasselon - Senior General Manager Chassis: "This qualifying was all about tyre compound selection and warm-up management, as well as avoiding the traffic. Generally we got it right even though of course we hoped to be a bit higher on the grid with both cars. Jarno was fighting for the top three all through the session and Kamui did very well for his second qualifying in Formula 1, his first in dry conditions. All in all it was a reasonably good result, our fuel load is competitive so we should have interesting race tomorrow. This is obviously the last race of the season and we definitely want to end on a high; we are in pretty good shape to do that."