Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying review: Max Verstappen stuns Mercedes by winning first pole of the season at Yas Marina

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Max Verstappen had a magical qualifying lap to grab a shock pole position for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the Red Bull driver overtaking Mercedes for the first time in 2020 with the three prime separated by only 0.086 s …
Qualifying for the Dutchman got off to a bad start as he spotted his first set of tires and then struggled to perform in the first segment. But he got better and better as the session unfolded under the lights of Yas Martina to take the first non-Mercedes pole in Abu Dhabi since 2013.

This ended Mercedes’ race to a one-two finish in every Q3 session in Abu Dhabi in the turbo hybrid era, with Verstappen’s astonishing mid-section making the difference to place him in P1 on a track where he didn’t. has never led a lap of his career in Formula 1.

Valtteri Bottas, to whom team boss Toto Wolff told team radio ‘all you’ve got Valtteri’, came in second, kicking Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was making his comeback after missing the last race after testing positive for Covid 19 in Bahrain.

1


Max
Verstappen
WATCH
Red Bull Racing
1: 35,246
2


Valtteri
Bottas
BOT
Mercedes
1: 35,271
3


Lewis
Hamilton
HAM
Mercedes
1: 35,332
4


Pays
Norris
NI
McLaren
1: 35,497
5


Alexandre
Albon
BLANC
Red Bull Racing
1: 35,571

McLaren’s Lando Norris had one of the best laps of his career to go fourth fastest, just 0.25 seconds off pole, with Red Bull’s Alex Albon having a milder weekend to take fifth place as he fights for his future in the team beyond the end of this season. .
Carlos Sainz was sixth, running on an older engine than his McLaren teammate which is believed to cost him around two-tenths of a second per lap, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, who continues his very strong end to the campaign which could be his last. . in F1.

Lance Stroll was the best-placed Racing Point in eighth, with teammate Sergio Perez starting from behind after a host of engine component changes – and that spices up the battle for the P3 in the Constructors’ Championship as their lead over McLaren is just 10 points.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly’s other AlphaTauri completed the top 10 in the final qualifying session of 2020.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2020 Qualifiers: Hot Latifi Tour Before It Starts After Rotation

Q1 – Hamilton sails to the top as Giovinazzi hangs up

Hamilton briefly went to the top of the clock, only to see his lap time suppressed after overshooting the track limits at Turn 21. The Briton ran so wide he smashed the large sausage pavement with such force, he asked his team to take a look. upstairs to check for damage.

He did a recovery lap and started again, but could only finish eighth – after getting the best of the tires. The Mercedes driver was therefore forced to do a second run, and he quickly put the fastest car of all, ahead of Bottas and an impressive Leclerc, who was in turn 0.8 seconds faster than his teammate Vettel.

Max Verstappen also set off on a second set of tires, having spotted his first set flat as it exited the garage as it braked hard to prevent Nicholas Latifi from leaving the Williams stand – but had no problem with it. pass.

Antonio Giovinazzi was in the drop zone in the finals but pumped up in a lap that pushed Alfa Romeo teammate Kimi Raikkonen out of qualifying, ensuring he finished the year in the head-to-head with the Finn .

Kevin Magnussen improved but it wasn’t enough to progress, and he was knocked out along with George Russell, Pietro Fittipaldi and Latifi, who turned late to briefly show the yellow flags.

Eliminated: Raikkonen, Magnussen, Russell, Fittipaldi, Latifi

It was Verstappen’s first pole position since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix

Q2 – Renault misses, while Mercedes sparkles

Mercedes continued their dominance at Yas Marina, with Hamilton leading Bottas once again in Q2, with Verstappen having a cleaner run in this segment.

The same couldn’t be said for his Red Bull teammate Albon, who had his first lap canceled for going over the limits of the track, putting pressure on the final race. This time he got it right and moved up to fourth to pass easily – albeit on the soft tires rather than the medium.

It was super tight further in the chronograms, Daniel Ricciardo having canceled his first lap and setting a time that was only sufficient for the 11th. He became 12th when his Renault teammate improved him by half a tenth of a second.

Vettel said his pace was ‘cut and paste’ from Q1, so it was no surprise he was knocked out with Giovinazzi joining the club from ‘lap time deleted’ as he finished 14th with Sergio Perez choosing not to complete a lap to give him a free tire. choice because it will start from the back of the pack after a series of engine component changes.

KO: Ocon, Ricciardo, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Perez

2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying: Verstappen beats Mercedes to win sensational pole position

Q3 – Verstappen shocks Mercedes with one last push

Bottas set the tone after the opening rounds, fending off Verstappen and Hamilton to take provisional pole – and even when Hamilton went faster the second time around, Bottas was able to react.

However, he didn’t count on Verstappen going even faster to snatch his first pole since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, setting off some happy scenes in the Red Bull garage.

Hamilton starts from the front row in Abu Dhabi for just the second time in UAE racing history, with Norris’ fourth being his best since the first round in Austria, and the position saw him beat Sainz 9 -8 in the head of qualifying. lead.

Albon got his seventh start in the top five, ahead of Sainz sixth, Kvyat securing his second successive start in the top seven. Racing Point didn’t quite have the pace to take on rival P3 McLaren with Stroll’s P8 only his second start in the top eight of the last eight Grands Prix.

Leclerc beat his teammate Ferrari Vettel again, as he finished a solid ninth, Gasly rounding out the top 10 as AlphaTauri got both cars in Q3 for the fourth time in five races.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2020 qualifying: Verstappen celebrates ‘last shipment of the season’

The key quote

“I said before qualifying for qualifying that this would be the last start of the season and we did it, so very happy,” said pole-sitter Max Verstappen.

And after?

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix kicks off at 5:10 p.m. local time or 2:10 p.m. UTC. Mercedes has made the Yas Marina circuit their own in recent years, but does Verstappen have what it takes to hold back the Silver Arrows?

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