Max Verstappen gets a vital pole position for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with Lewis Hamilton following him on the front row.
After all practice sessions were finished, it all came down to probably the most important qualifying session in a long time. The starting grid for the season finale in Abu Dhabi was set to be determined on Saturday evening.
The drivers were lined up at the pit lane exit as Q1 got underway. While Lewis Hamilton stayed in his garage for longer, Max Verstappen set his first lap time of the session – 1:23.680. The AlphaTauri teammates Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda followed the Dutchman.
Shortly after, Hamilton responded with a lap four-tenths quicker than Verstappen’s. Valtteri Bottas go to P2, being a tenth away from his teammate.
Sergio Perez had a solid, which moved him up to P3. Later on, Verstappen improved his lap time as he was five-hundredths slower than Hamilton.
Mick Schumacher hit a bollard at the final turn during his flying lap attempt. Lando Norris also touched it and the bollard was left at the turn exit. The red flags were out to remove the bollard from the track.
The session was quickly resumed. With less than 2 minutes left in Q1, Hamilton had another flying lap – he beat his own lap time by four-tenths and remained on top of the timesheets. Nicholas Latifi, George Russell, Kimi Raikkonen, Mick Schumacher, and Nikita Mazepin were eliminated from the qualifying.
The Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Bottas led the queue of the drivers at the start of Q2. The Briton set a benchmark for everyone – 1:23.189 on medium tires. Verstappen was very close though – just four-thousandths between the title protagonists.
Verstappen continued his run, but made a lock-up at turn 1 and told the team that he had a flat spot. This could be a big issue for the Dutchman as he had set his fastest lap on that compound and would have to start a race on it.
Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz decided to go on soft tires. Leclerc got to P4, while Sainz set the new fastest lap of the segment.
Verstappen left his garage with around 3 minutes to go on soft tires. The drivers were preparing to make their final attempts, which created a lot of traffic. Verstappen tried to overtake Esteban Ocon for a better track position but had to back off.
Verstappen went on to set the fastest lap of Q2 on soft tires. Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll, Antonio Giovinazzi, and Sebastian Vettel did not advance to Q3.
The time finally came for the final shootout for the Abu Dhabi GP pole. Verstappen had a stunning lap, being half a second quicker than Hamilton in 2nd. Perez helped his teammate with slipstream in sector 2 and eventually went to P3.
Hamilton and Bottas were the first drivers to leave the pit lane for the second flying lap attempt, while the rest of the field followed them.
Hamilton improved his result, but it was not enough to catch Verstappen, which meant that the Dutchman got the pole position for the Abu Dhabi GP. Hamilton qualified second, while Norris completed the top 3 of the session.
The results of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi GP qualifying:
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||1:22.109|
|4||Sergio Perez||Red Bull Racing||+0.838|
|13||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:24.066|
|14||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:24.251|
|15||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:24.305|
|18||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo Racing||1:24.779|