Max Verstappen has conquered pole position for the third time in his Formula 1 career on Saturday. The Red Bull Racing driver was the fastest in qualifying for the last Grand Prix of the year in Abu Dhabi.
In a blood-curdling last session, Verstappen dived with 1.35.246 just below the fastest time of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who had set 1.35.271 on the clock. World champion Lewis Hamilton (1.35,332) and Lando Norris of McLaren (1.35,497) were close behind and occupied the second row on Sunday.
Verstappen is on pole for the first time since November last year, when he took the first place on the grid at the Grand Prix of Brazil. Three months earlier, he was the fastest in qualifying in Hungary for the first time in his career.
With his performance at the Yas Marina Circuit, Verstappen ensures that, for the first time this season, there is no team with a Mercedes engine in pole position.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix starts on Sunday at 2.10 p.m. The mediums starting Verstappen is third in the World Cup position, behind world champion Hamilton and number two Bottas. In theory he can still pass Bottas.
Top 10 qualifying GP Abu Dhabi
- 1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
- 2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
- 3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
- 4. Lando Norris (McLaren)
- 5. Alexander Albon (Red Bull)
- 6. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)
- 7. Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri)
- 8. Lance Stroll (Racing Point)
- 9. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
- 10. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
Verstappen was already good in the last practice
Earlier on Saturday, Verstappen had already shown his best side during the third and final free practice in Abu Dhabi. The 23-year-old Dutchman was then by far the fastest on the Yas Marina Circuit.
In qualifying he continued that line, although it took until the last run before he had the fastest time. The margins were small, because Bottas, Hamilton, Norris, Alexander Albon, Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat drove in the 1.35, just like Verstappen.
A session earlier, in Q2, Renault drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon were quite surprisingly among the dropouts. This also applied to Sebastien Vettel, who will drive his last race for Ferrari.
Verstappen has been on the podium in Abu Dhabi for the last two years. In 2018, the Limburger finished third and last year he was one step higher.