Advantage Alonso as Vettel takes pole and Webber only fifth

Germany's Sebastian Vettel secured his 15th and potentially most important pole position of his short career, after coming out on top in a hotly contested Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying session this evening. The 23-year-old beat fellow title rival Lewis Hamilton to the honours with a gap of just 0.031s, as they, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber prepare to do battle for the 2010 world drivers' championship on Sunday evening.

Conditions were warm and dry as the sun dipped below the horizon at the start of qualifying, with tensions running at an all-time high in anticipation of the most important qualifying session of the season. Red Bull had performed best in practice, as did McLaren, but come Q1 it was Fernando Alonso who set the fastest time, a 1m40.170s, to mount yet more pressure on his main rivals. Red Bull calmly regained the initiative in Q2 with Vettel posting a time of 1m39.874s to beat McLaren's Jenson Button.