Sebastian Vettel's run of superb form came to a grinding halt in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Crucially, the championship leader is ahead of his title rival Fernando Alonso on the grid, enquiring of a rep...

Sebastian Vettel's run of superb form came to a grinding halt in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

Crucially, the championship leader is ahead of his title rival Fernando Alonso on the grid, enquiring of a reporter immediately after qualifying third: "Is he (Alonso) sixth?"

But it has been far from smooth sailing in the desert heat.

Red Bull is struggling to keep up with pole sitter Lewis Hamilton's McLaren, and Vettel was also outpaced on Saturday afternoon by his own teammate, Mark Webber.

Earlier, Vettel was stuck in the pits in the important third practice session with a serious brake problem, and right at the end of qualifying, he pulled to the side of the track.

"I don't know why," he said. "I was asked to stop."

Team boss Christian Horner revealed that engine, KERS and alternator supplier Renault ordered the stoppage, but paddock speculation suggested Vettel may have simply run out of fuel -- which will send him right to the back of Sunday's grid.

"There was a request (from Renault) but at the moment I don't know why," Horner told the BBC.

It should be noted that Renault's problems with its 2012 alternators have been well documented this year, and the French marque's Remy Taffin confirmed in Abu Dhabi that an all-new specification will not be ready to debut until Austin.

"That's the work we've achieved so far, that's where we are," he said on Friday.

Technical troubles aside, Vettel is the championship contender looking most under pressure in Abu Dhabi, with commentators saying he made more mistakes on Saturday than he has for several entire race weekends.

Asked on Saturday about Vettel's problems in Abu Dhabi, Ferrari's Alonso admitted: "In terms of our championship hopes, it always helps." 

Pos

No

Driver

Team

Q1

Q2

Q3

Laps

1

4

Lewis Hamilton

McLaren-Mercedes

1:41.497

1:40.901

1:40.630

15

2

2

Mark Webber

Red Bull Racing-Renault

1:41.933

1:41.277

1:40.978

17

DSQ

1

Sebastian Vettel

Red Bull Racing-Renault

1:42.160

1:41.511

1:41.073

16

4

18

Pastor Maldonado

Williams-Renault

1:41.981

1:41.907

1:41.226

22

5

9

Kimi Räikkönen

Lotus-Renault

1:42.222

1:41.532

1:41.260

20

6

3

Jenson Button

McLaren-Mercedes

1:42.342

1:41.873

1:41.290

20

7

5

Fernando Alonso

Ferrari

1:41.939

1:41.514

1:41.582

17

8

8

Nico Rosberg

Mercedes

1:41.926

1:41.698

1:41.603

17

9

6

Felipe Massa

Ferrari

1:41.974

1:41.846

1:41.723

17

10

10

Romain Grosjean

Lotus-Renault

1:42.046

1:41.620

1:41.778

24

11

12

Nico Hulkenberg

Force India-Mercedes

1:42.579

1:42.019

 

16

12

15

Sergio Perez

Sauber-Ferrari

1:42.624

1:42.084

 

17

13

11

Paul di Resta

Force India-Mercedes

1:42.572

1:42.218

 

16

14

7

Michael Schumacher

Mercedes

1:42.735

1:42.289

 

14

15

19

Bruno Senna

Williams-Renault

1:43.298

1:42.330

 

18

16

14

Kamui Kobayashi

Sauber-Ferrari

1:43.582

1:42.606

 

17

17

16

Daniel Ricciardo

STR-Ferrari

1:43.280

1:42.765

 

14

18

17

Jean-Eric Vergne

STR-Ferrari

1:44.058

 

 

9

19

20

Heikki Kovalainen

Caterham-Renault

1:44.956

 

 

11

20

25

Charles Pic

Marussia-Cosworth

1:45.089

 

 

10

21

21

Vitaly Petrov

Caterham-Renault

1:45.151

 

 

11

22

24

Timo Glock

Marussia-Cosworth

1:45.426

 

 

9

23

22

Pedro de la Rosa

HRT-Cosworth

1:45.766

 

 

8

24

23

Narain Karthikeyan

HRT-Cosworth

1:46.382

 

 

9

 

 

Q1 107% Time

 

1:48.601

 

 

 

Note - Vettel originally qualified in third, but was excluded for failing to return to the pits under his own power and supply a fuel sample.

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