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Vettel rapt with pole

EVENT COUNTDOWN

ALBERT PARK

12-15 MARCH 2015

Sebastian Vettel believes the title is within his reach after clinching pole at the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix.

Vettel headed McLaren's Lewis Hamilton with the quickest time of one minute 39.394 seconds, but more importantly topped championship leader Fernando Alonso who qualified in third (1:39.425), while Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber (1:39.925) was a disappointing fifth.

The 23-year-old German trails Alonso in the drivers' standings by 15 points while Webber is in second, eight points behind.

A win for either would give Red Bull a fighting chance at the title but a first or second-placed finish for Alonso would seal the title for Ferrari.

Having won the event last season, a beaming Vettel was full of confidence after his sizzling qualifying time.

"Obviously, we start from pole. It couldn't be better," Vettel said.

"At the practice, we didn't look too good but we went out last and we did it. It was a very good job by everyone, the whole team."

Hamilton is the last of the title contenders, 24 points behind Alonso, but almost everything must go his way to win it.

"Today is a much better start of the weekend for us," Hamilton said after qualifying.

"The team did some great things improving the car. A good feeling. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain."

With the win worth 25 points, Alonso can finish as low as third or fourth if Webber doesn't win the race. He can also win by finishing out of the points as long as Webber doesn't finish in the top five, Vettel is third or lower and Hamilton fails to win.

Webber can win his first F1 title by leading a Red Bull 1-2. But with teams banned from giving "team orders" - telling drivers to let their teammates pass - it may come down to Vettel voluntarily letting Webber through if the team is to add a drivers' championship to the constructors' title it has already won.

But Webber's fifth-place position dents his dream of becoming the first Australian world champion since Alan Jones in 1980.

To win the title, Vettel needs to win and hope Alonso is outside the top four. If Vettel is second, both Webber and Alonso need to finish low enough to allow the German to remain at the top.

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