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Max Verstappen snatches pole in thrilling Abu Dhabi GP qualifying

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Max Verstappen took a vital pole position to seize the advantage over rival Lewis Hamilton for the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull’s combined with great teamwork as Sergio Perez gave Verstappen a tow to help him seal the top spot.

Max Verstappen takes pole for final GP of 2021 season

Verstappen clocked a brilliant 1m22.109s on his first run to take a 10th pole position of the season, with Hamilton 0.371s off the pace to end up second meaning he will start alongside the Red Bull on the front row.

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McClaren’s Lando Norris bagged a surprise third place.

Red Bull sent Perez out on track first in Q3, with the Mexican towing Verstappen down the long straight before bailing out of the way before Turn 9 and sacrificing his own lap.

Verstappen made the most of the boost to clinch a provisional pole, with Hamilton locking up at the hairpin and ending up nearly half a second adrift.

Missed chances for Mercedes

Mercedes had sent their cars out first for the second run, with Hamilton ahead of Bottas though, they turned down the opportunity to try a tow. 

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Hamilton improved his pace but he was behind in all three sectors and instead will start on the dirty side of the front row alongside his title rival in P2.

However, like his teammate Bottas, Hamilton will start on the more durable medium tyre that should allow him to run deeper into the race before stopping. The Red Bulls, however, will start on the soft tyres, Verstappen moving to that rubber after he flat-spotted his medium tyres in Q2.

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Red Bull’s number two will start fourth, ahead of Ferrari’ Carlos Sainz, who appeared to have made big gains after a difficult Friday. Meanwhile Bottas is down in sixth in his final Grand Prix for Mercedes ahead of a move to Alfa Romeo.

Charles Leclerc was seventh, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda – who could have been higher, having sat third before having his lap deleted for track limits – with Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo completing the top 10.

Abu Dhabi GP qualifying

1 33 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:23.322 1:22.800 1:22.109 20
2 44 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 1:22.845 1:23.145 1:22.480 19
3 4 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:23.553 1:23.256 1:22.931 20
4 11 Sergio Perez RED BULL RACING HONDA 1:23.350 1:23.135 1:22.947 24
5 55 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 1:23.624 1:23.174 1:22.992 22
6 77 Valtteri Bottas MERCEDES 1:23.117 1:23.246 1:23.036 20
7 16 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 1:23.467 1:23.202 1:23.122 23
8 22 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI HONDA 1:23.428 1:23.404 1:23.220 22
9 31 Esteban Ocon ALPINE RENAULT 1:23.764 1:23.420 1:23.389 20
10 3 Daniel Ricciardo MCLAREN MERCEDES 1:23.829 1:23.448 1:23.409 19
11 14 Fernando Alonso ALPINE RENAULT 1:23.846 1:23.460 12
12 10 Pierre Gasly ALPHATAURI HONDA 1:23.489 1:24.043 16
13 18 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 1:24.061 1:24.066 17
14 99 Antonio Giovinazzi ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:24.118 1:24.251 17
15 5 Sebastian Vettel ASTON MARTIN MERCEDES 1:24.225 1:24.305 18
16 6 Nicholas Latifi WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:24.338 8
17 63 George Russell WILLIAMS MERCEDES 1:24.423 7
18 7 Kimi Räikkönen ALFA ROMEO RACING FERRARI 1:24.779 8
19 47 Mick Schumacher HAAS FERRARI 1:24.906 9
20 9 Nikita Mazepin HAAS FERRARI 1:25.685 9

Q1 107% time – 1:28.644

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