Max Verstappen has come out trumps in a tightly-contest Q3 to claim pole position for the final Formula 1 race of 2020 under the lights of Abu Dhabi.
Verstappen duly ends the Mercedes dominance of the Yas Marina circuit since the turbo-hybrid era and sets up an enthralling race for tomorrow.
The Red Bull driver pipped Valtteri Bottas to top spot by 0.025s, with Lewis Hamilton just a further eight-hundredths adrift in third.
It was Bottas who had briefly led the session after the first flying laps were complete, but Verstappen had slotted himself between the Silver Arrow duo to sit second.
Hamilton then vaulted himself up from third to provisional pole on his final run. However, Bottas and Verstappen would also find improvements to demote the reigning world champion from the front row.
Alex Albon looked to be on for his best qualifying of the year, but he failed to improve on his final lap time. Thus, Lando Norris was able to claim a sublime second-row grid position, with the McLaren driver just over two-tenths down on pole.
Carlos Sainz ensured there was one McLaren on either side of Albon and will start sixth. The British team trail Racing Point by ten points in the race for third in the constructors’ standings, with their strong qualifying showing giving them a leg-up for the race.
Daniil Kvyat captured seventh in what is likely his final grand prix start, besting AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly, who could only manage tenth in Q3, by almost three-tenths.
Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc were the only representatives for the teams in the shootout and slotted in between the AlphaTauri duo for eighth and ninth.
Esteban Ocon fronted an all-Renault sixth row, getting his first dry qualifying win over teammate Daniel Ricciardo this season, beating the Australian by 0.05s.
Sebastian Vettel bids farewell to Ferrari this weekend. Unfortunately, the four-time world champion suffered another disappointing qualifying to line-up 13th when the pace demonstrated by his teammate suggested a place in Q3 was on the cards for Vettel.
Vettel will be joined by Antonio Giovinazzi on the seventh row. The Alfa Romeo driver was able to scrape into Q2 after being the last one past the chequered flag in the earlier session.
Sakhir Grand Prix winner Sergio Perez opted not to set a time in Q2, with grid penalties meaning he would be sentenced to start from the rear of the grid anyways.
Kimi Raikkonen qualified 16th, ahead of the leading Haas of Kevin Magnussen. However, the Danish driver is also set to be dealt with grid penalties due to a change of power unit components.
George Russell returned to Williams for the final race of the season after his one-off stand-in performance at Mercedes. He battled through a difficult tyre wear phase to salvage 18th
Romain Grosjean’s Haas stand-in Pietro Fittipaldi was three-tenths behind Russell in 19th, while Nicholas Latifi was last of the runners after spinning on the exit of the final corner.
|Carlos Sainz Jr.