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Max takes final pole of the season: 'Great start for tomorrow'

Published on 19 November 2022 by Mike Motilall

The final pole of this season has been claimed by Max Verstappen. The Dutchman was the only one to do a time in the 1 minute 23’s. Sergio Pérez, who is eyeing up the second place in the championship and wanting to beat Leclerc, will start next to Max during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Charles Leclerc planted his Ferrari in third place on the Yas Marina Circuit. Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton rounded out the top five.

“I am very happy that both cars are on the front row”, says Max after qualifying. “We want to win the race but we also want to finish second with Checo in the championship. So that is definitely a great start for tomorrow.”

Despite getting pole position, this qualifying session was not as smooth as it looked like. Max: “It was a bit up and down during qualifying. It started off quite well, but Q2 was a little more messy. It was not working at all on the new tyres. I was constantly oversteering and couldn’t get the grip together. But then in Q3 it all felt a bit more normal. Honestly, I don’t know why, so that was pretty strange. After that both laps were good enough. So I am very pleased with that.”

Max, who wanted to give his team mate a tow during the first run of Q3, was not able to do this because of some issues. “We had given Checo the choice to start ahead or behind of me. He wanted to start behind of me. So that was the plan. But we had a scare towards the end. The car turned off before the first run in Q3, so we had to reboot everything. That’s why I was not able to give him a tow. But during the second run, I luckily could.”

On the question whether Max is prepared to sacrifice himself tomorrow for his team mate, Max replies: “It completely depends on where he stands compared to Leclerc. He needs to finish in front, that’s the key.”

Regarding tomorrow, the reigning world champion says: “For sure today was amazing, but I still expect tomorrow to be a good battle. We need to focus on the tyres. But at least we have both cars there, so we can do what we want to.”

When it’s lights out for the final qualifying it’s an ambient 28 degrees on the Yas island with a track temperature of 34 degrees. For Daniel Ricciardo, Sebastian Vettel, Nicholas Latifi and Mick Schumacher it’s -  for now – the final qualifying session of their careers. Pérez, who is trying to finish second in the championship, clocks a 1:24.820 on his first attempt. With that he takes pole, but seconds later he is outdone by Max with a 1:24.754. Both Red Bull-drivers did their running on the soft compound tyres. Both Verstappen and Latifi report back to their teams that their head rest are broken. This then gets checked by their teams.

With still a few minutes left in Q1, it’s Vettel who is the first to start the last lap. It’s very busy on track which forces him to weave his way round in order to get through to the final sector. His time is eventually good enough for the sixth place. Max finishes the first part of qualifying at the top. After the session, we need to say goodbye to: Kevin Magnussen, Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas, Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi.

Q2 is opened by Lewis Hamilton, who gets a 1:25.772 on the clock on a set of softs. Team mate George Russell does a better job and is well over four tenths down. They start taking turns at the top of the field. Within a minute, P1 is occupied by Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz, Verstappen and eventually by Pérez. The Mexican gets a 1:24.419 on the clock, well over four tenths fastest than his Dutch team mate. Verstappen informs his team that he has no grip at the rear of this ride. Eventually, it’s Pérez, Leclerc and Sainz who are the top three to cross the line. Verstappen is fourth fastest as Vettel has a decent eighth place finish. The German is by the way not amused by the Red Bulls who, according to him, have impeded him three times already. Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher, Lance Stroll and Zhou Guanyu are sent packing after the second part of qualifying.

This year’s final part of qualifying is now upon us. The Mercs are the first ones out on the asphalt of the Yas Marina Circuit. Pérez is also very quick to head out on track. Judging by his radio, he appeared to count on a tow by Verstappen. But due to some kind of an issue, the Dutchman’s car stays a bit too long in the pit box. The Mexican doesn’t make it to take the provisional pole. He slots in behind of Sainz, who managed to take pole himself. After this, Verstappen tops the board with an impressive 1:23.998, almost three tenths quicker than Sainz. He barely scratches the track limits. In other words: like a glove!

Vettel is out of sync and clocks a provisional seventh place. Ricciardo follows suit and plants his McLaren behind the German on a provisional eighth place. On the final lap, Verstappen betters himself to a 1:23.824. Pérez does get a slip stream from his team mate. His lap his good enough for second place: he is well over two tenths slower than Max. Leclerc’s time is good enough to start third on Sunday. Team mate Sainz takes P4, while Hamilton rounds out the top five. And with that, the last qualifying session of this season is a fact.

Contest Abu Dhabi GP: win a 1:2 scale model Max Verstappen 2022 helmet!

Results qualifying Abu-dhabi:

1Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing RBPT1:24.7541:24.6221:23.824
2Sergio PerezPERRed Bull Racing RBPT1:24.8201:24.4191:24.052
3Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:25.2111:24.5171:24.092
4Carlos SainzSAIFerrari1:25.0901:24.5211:24.242
5Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:25.5941:24.7741:24.508
6George RussellRUSMercedes1:25.5451:24.9401:24.511
7Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Mercedes1:25.3871:24.9031:24.769
8Esteban OconOCOAlpine Renault1:25.7351:25.0071:24.830
9Sebastian VettelVETAston Martin Mercedes1:25.5231:24.9741:24.961
10Daniel RicciardoRICMcLaren Mercedes1:25.7661:25.0681:25.045
11Fernando AlonsoALOAlpine Renault1:25.7821:25.096
12Yuki TsunodaTSUAlphaTauri RBPT1:25.6301:25.219
13Mick SchumacherMSCHaas Ferrari1:25.7111:25.225
14Lance StrollSTRAston Martin Mercedes1:25.7411:25.359
15Zhou GuanyuZHOAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:25.5941:25.408
16Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:25.834
17Pierre GaslyGASAlphaTauri RBPT1:25.859
18Valtteri BottasBOTAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:25.892
19Alexander AlbonALBWilliams Mercedes1:26.028
20Nicholas LatifiLATWilliams Mercedes1:26.054