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Max Verstappen on pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: 'An amazing feeling'

Published on 11 December 2021 by Kees-Jan Koster

Max Verstappen took pole position for the all-decisive Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Dutchman had a very strong end of qualifying, setting a  blazing fast time of 1:22.109. None of the other drivers were able to go faster, with title rival Hamilton 0.371 seconds behind. Verstappen took his tenth pole of the season. This means that Max will start from the best possible position on the grid to try and win the Formula 1 world title. While Verstappen will start the race on the soft compound tyres, Hamilton will be on the medium compound tyre. Behind the championship contenders are Lando Norris in a surprising third and Sergio Perez in P4.

A broadly smiling Max says after qualifying: “It is an amazing feeling. We have improved the car again in qualifying, as so far this weekend was a bit on and off. This was what we wanted; it is never easy especially with Mercedes’ form the last few races. Now I am looking forward to tomorrow, as that is the most important.”

That Max tomorrow, unlike Hamilton, will start the race on the soft tyres, does not have to be a disadvantage according to the Red Bull Racing driver: “We planned to start on the medium tyre, but I locked up in turn one. I felt good on both tyres. My long runs on the soft tyre were fine, and in the evening it is a bit cooler so that is a bit easier for the soft tyre. It is very important to have a good start. We will do our very best and will see where we will end up.”

Despite the pressures of the championship fight, Max keeps his cool: “I was very relaxed at the start of qualifying. I know I always do the best I can and that the team will give me the best possible car. We have done that throughout the year and today it worked out very well.”

Qualifying starts when the sun goes down on the Yes Marina Circuit. Verstappen comes out on track straight away with a set of soft tyres on his RB16B. In his first flying lap Max sets a 1:23.680 which is at the time good for first position. Not much later both Mercedes drivers set faster times. After a cool down lap Max does another fast lap. The Dutchman improves his time to a 1:23.322, taking second position, five one-hundredths of a second behind Hamilton.

The session is red flagged when Mick Schumacher hits a bollard which ends up on the track. After a short delay the session is resumed. Max decides not to come out again and finishes the session in third position behind both Mercedes and he safely goes through to Q2. The dropouts of the first qualifying session are: Williams drivers Nicholas Latifi (P16) and George Russell (P17), Kimi Raikkonen (P18) who will drive his last Grand Prix tomorrow, Mick Schumacher (P19) and Nikita Mazepin. The Russian driver is the only one not once going through to Q2 this year.

In the second qualifying session both Red Bull Racing drivers, the Mercedes and AlphaTauri drivers come out on medium compound tyres.  Max sets a time of 1:23.189 on these tyres, which was only four one-thousandths of a second slower than Hamilton. Verstappen locks up his front left tyre in his second attempt and must return to the pits with a flat spot on his left front tyre.

In the last minutes of Q2 it is very busy on track with drivers wanting to position themselves for their quick laps. This time Max is on a set of soft tyres and sets the fastest time (1:22.800). This means that both Verstappen and teammate Perez will start the race on the soft tyre, while Hamilton will start on the medium compound tyres. The dropouts of the second qualifying session are: Fernando Alonso (P11), Pierre Gasly (P12), Lance Stroll (P13), Antonio Giovinazzi (P14) and Sebastian Vettel (P15).

As usual in Q3 all drivers come out on track on the soft tyre. Max gets a slipstream from Perez in his first flying lap and sets a blazing fast time of 1:22:109. Taking provisional pole, with more than half a second ahead of Hamilton in second position. A second run follows, Hamilton can improve his time but is still two tenths of a second slower than Verstappen. None of the other drivers can go faster than Verstappen, putting the Red Bull Racing driver on pole position. The tenth pole for Max in 2021 and the best possible place to start the all-decisive season finale tomorrow. Behind both title contenders finishes Lando Norris third. Perez finishes fourth with Carlos Sainz in P5. Valtteri Bottas is only sixth, while Charles Leclerc, Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo complete the top ten.

Contest GP Abu Dhabi: win a by Max Verstappen signed 1:2 helmet 2021!

Results qualifying Abu-dhabi:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda1:23.3221:22.8001:22.109
2Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:22.8451:23.1451:22.480
3Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:23.5531:23.2561:22.931
4Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing Honda1:23.3501:23.1351:22.947
5Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:23.6241:23.1741:22.992
6Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:23.1171:23.2461:23.036
7Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:23.4671:23.2021:23.122
8Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri Honda1:23.4281:23.4041:23.220
9Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:23.7641:23.4201:23.389
10Daniel RicciardoRICMcLaren Mercedes1:23.8291:23.4481:23.409
11Fernando AlonsoALOAlpine Renault1:23.8461:23.460
12Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri Honda1:23.4891:24.043
13Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:24.0611:24.066
14Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:24.1181:24.251
15Sebastian VettelVETAston Martin Mercedes1:24.2251:24.305
16Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes1:24.338
17George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:24.423
18Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:24.779
19Mick SchumacherMSCHaas Ferrari1:24.906
20Nikita MazepinMAZHaas Ferrari1:25.685