Verstappen takes pole for the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Perez

Verstappen takes pole for the Abu Dhabi GP ahead of Perez

Max Verstappen lead Sergio Perez in a Red Bull front-row lockout for the Abu Dhabi grand prix.

Red Bull’s qualifying supremacy never looked in doubt throughout the hour-long session, the only hiccup in Verstappen’s run plan was his car suddenly switching itself off at the beginning of Q3, delaying him joining the session.

But the interruption didn’t perturb the Dutchman, who was in sparkling form in the final pole shootout of the season.

His first lap of Q3 was quick enough for pole position in its own right, but he then put in an even faster time despite partially sacrificing his second lap to give Perez a slipstream along the long back straight.

His seventh pole position of the season came with a 0.228s advantage over Perez and puts him and the team in an ideal position to close the year with a strong result.

“For sure today was amazing,” he said. “I still expect it to be a good battle tomorrow, but at least we have both cars there – we can do what we want.”

Perez admitted he didn’t have his teammate’s pace but was satisfied to have qualified ahead of Charles Leclerc, with whom he’s tied on points for second in the drivers championship.

“It’s a good starting place,” he said. “It’s good to lock out that front row for tomorrow.”

Perez also thanked Verstappen for giving him a tow, making special mention of the strong teamwork after a week of controversy since the São Paulo Grand Prix.

“Max did a great job for me,” he said. “We worked as a team really strongly on that final run.”

Leclerc qualified third and just 0.04s behind Perez after a lock-up at turns 6 and 7, but the Ferrari driver admitted his car had little more to give to match the Red Bull Racing cars.

“To be honest, it’s the place we deserve,” he said. “Today the Red Bulls were stronger, but we’re still in quite a good position tomorrow.

“It’s going to be close with Checo for sure.”

Carlos Sainz was a further 0.15s adrift of his teammate in fourth but comfortably ahead of both Mercedes drivers.

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were split by just 0.003s but were both almost 0.7s off the pole pace after being quietly cautious throughout practice that the W13 would be thereabouts in qualifying.

Lando Norris qualified seventh at the head of the midfield for McLaren, pipping Alpine rival Esteban Ocon to the place by less than half a tenth.

Sebastian Vettel qualified ninth in the last grand prix of his Formula 1 career.

Daniel Ricciardo was 10th quickest in Q3 but will serve a three-place penalty for his crash with Kevin Magnussen in Brazil last week, dropping him to 13th.

Fernando Alonso was a surprise knockout in Q2, pushed out by just 0.078s by Ricciardo, but will line up 10th regardless thanks to the Australian’s penalty.

Yuki Tsunoda will start 11th for AlphaTauri ahead of Mick Schumacher in 12th in the German’s final grand prix for at least 12 months.

Lance Stroll was knocked out 14th ahead of Zhou Guanyu in 15th.

Kevin Magnussen, one week after scoring pole in Brazil, was knocked out in Q1 by just 0.052s, leaving him 16th on the grid.

Pierre Gasly was knocked out 17th ahead of Valtteri Bottas, who complained that his tires were too cold for the start of his final flying lap.

Williams drivers Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi will start on the final row of the grid.