BREAKING: Verstappen on pole in Abu Dhabi!

12-12-2020 13:58
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BREAKING: Verstappen on pole in Abu Dhabi!

Max Verstappen took pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in an incredibly close qualifying session at Yas Marina for the final race of the 2020 season. The Red Bull driver took his first pole of the season, just 0.025 seconds ahead of Valtteri Bottas. Lewis Hamilton was also within a tenth, but third on his return to the grid.

Q1

On his first run, Hamilton ran wide at Turn 20 and had his lap time deleted, putting pressure on the returning Brit to perform on his next lap. On the same set of tyres, he put in a lap good enough for seventh, before securing his progression to Q2 by going fastest on his final run.

Hamilton pipped Bottas to top the timesheets, ahead of Charles Leclerc. Verstappen was just behind after a scare in the pitlane when he had to stamp on the brakes to avoid the Williams of Nicholas Latifi.

George Russell’s return to Williams brought him back down to earth as he qualified 18th. Also knocked out were Kimi Raikkonen in 16th, Kevin Magnussen in 17th, Pietro Fittipaldi in 19th and Latifi last after a spin on his final lap.

Q2

In the second session of qualifying, Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo were caught out by track limits and had their times deleted from the first run. Meanwhile, Sergio Perez opted not to set a competitive lap due to his grid penalties, causing him to start near the back for Sunday’s race.

Hamilton again set the fastest time of the session ahead of Bottas, with Verstappen completing the usual top three.

Albon managed to set a legal time on his final run, moving up to fourth, but Ricciardo couldn’t do the same, missing out on Q3 in 12th. His teammate Esteban Ocon was 11th, with Sebastian Vettel P13 in his final qualifying session for Ferrari. Antonio Giovinazzi was 14th, ahead of Perez.

Q3

After the first run it was Bottas on provisional pole, a tenth ahead of Verstappen. Hamilton was close behind, with Albon in the fight as well, just half a tenth behind his Dutch teammate. McLaren looked strong in their fight with Racing Point for third in the constructors’ standings, with Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris the closest challengers to the top two teams.

Hamilton put himself on provisional pole with his final lap, before both Bottas and Verstappen pipped him, with the Red Bull driver taking the first non-Mercedes powered pole this season. Norris managed to edge out Albon, who will have to settel for fifth. Sainz held P6, ahead of Daniil Kvyat and Lance Stroll. Leclerc was ninth, ahead of Pierre Gasly.

Mercedes' era of dominance in under three minutes

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