Formula 1

Verstappen helps Perez to seal Red Bull front row in Abu Dhabi

by Ben Anderson
3 min read

Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen claimed pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, leading a Red Bull 1-2 as Sergio Perez narrowly beat Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari to the front row.

Verstappen did two laps good enough for pole in Q3 at the Yas Marina F1 circuit, and was the only driver to lap below 1m24s, taking pole by 0.228 seconds despite early-session troubles where his car switched off and delayed his first run.

Perez was only third, behind Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari, after the first runs in Q3, but Perez used Verstappen’s slipstream on the second run to get onto the front row, beating Leclerc – his rival for second in the drivers’ championship – by just 0.040s.

Sainz improved marginally on his own final run, but slumped to fourth thanks to those better laps from Perez and Leclerc.

Ferrari looked in bad shape after final practice but was more competitive in the cooler conditions of qualifying. Conversely, having looked like Red Bull’s nearest challenger here Mercedes went backwards in qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton was fifth fastest, almost seven tenths shy of Verstappen and nearly three tenths behind the slowest Ferrari.

George Russell converged on Hamilton’s higher-downforce aerodynamic setup ahead of qualifying and finished only 0.003s further back as the second Mercedes rounded out the top six.

McLaren’s Lando Norris got amongst the Ferraris and the Mercedes in Q1 and Q2 but was predictably best of the rest in Q3, two and a half tenths adrift of Russell.

Esteban Ocon was eighth fastest in the best of the Alpines, less than a tenth adrift of Norris, while Sebastian Vettel was ninth for Aston Martin in his final F1 qualifying session before retirement.

Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren rounded out the top 10, less than a tenth behind Vettel, but Ricciardo will drop three places on the grid thanks to a penalty for wiping out Kevin Magnussen’s Haas in the Brazilian GP.

Fernando Alonso replied “OK” when Alpine informed him he missed the Q3 cut by less than three hundredths of a second to Ricciardo’s McLaren, which had itself sat in the elimination zone until the final runs in Q2.

Alonso was demoted from the top 10 by late improvements from Leclerc and Norris, who both briefly flirted with elimination as others tried to make the Q3 cut.

Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher and Lance Stroll were all in the drop zone after their first runs. All briefly made it inside the top 10 on their second runs before eventually being dumped out – along with Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo.

Stroll was almost four tenths slower than Aston Martin team-mate Vettel in Q2, despite producing what he felt was a strong lap.

Vettel and Schumacher were both in danger of Q1 elimination after the initial runs in that segment, before dragging themselves into Q2 with late improvements.

Alonso, Stroll and Tsunoda also made late escapes having fallen into the drop zone as others improved.

Alonso’s Alpine finished up only half a tenth clear of Brazil pole-winner Magnussen, who was knocked out along with the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly, the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas and Williams pairing Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi.

Bottas complained of his front tyres having no temperature and simply not working in Q1, as he spent basically his entire session stuck in the bottom five.

Gasly was within a tenth of escaping Q1; Bottas just over a tenth shy – while the Williams drivers were less than two tenths further back but separated by less than three hundredths of a second in Albon’s favour.

Qualifying Results

Pos Name Car Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m24.754s 1m24.622s 1m23.824s
2 Sergio Pérez Red Bull 1m24.82s 1m24.419s 1m24.052s
3 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1m25.211s 1m24.517s 1m24.092s
4 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1m25.09s 1m24.521s 1m24.242s
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m25.594s 1m24.774s 1m24.508s
6 George Russell Mercedes 1m25.545s 1m24.94s 1m24.511s
7 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.387s 1m24.903s 1m24.769s
8 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1m25.735s 1m25.007s 1m24.83s
9 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m25.523s 1m24.974s 1m24.961s
10 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1m25.766s 1m25.068s 1m25.045s
11 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1m25.782s 1m25.096s
12 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Red Bull 1m25.63s 1m25.219s
13 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1m25.711s 1m25.225s
14 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1m25.741s 1m25.359s
15 Guanyu Zhou Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m25.594s 1m25.408s
16 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1m25.834s
17 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Red Bull 1m25.859s
18 Valtteri Bottas Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1m25.892s
19 Alex Albon Williams-Mercedes 1m26.028s
20 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1m26.054s
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