Max Verstappen took his 12th pole position of 2023 in this morning’s qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit in the United Arab Emirates.
The three-time world champion has Charles Leclerc next to him on the front row, with Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton failing to progress to Q3.
McLaren’s Oscar Piatri qualified third but is under investigation for potentially impending Pierre Gasly during the final session. Also on the second row is George Russell, while Lando Norris qualified fifth, one place ahead of an impressive Yuki Tsunoda in sixth.
Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and Gasly round out the top 10.
After a high-speed crash in Free Practice 2, Sainz was the shock elimination in Q1, a tight session that saw the entire field separated by less than a second.
Perez found himself in the drop zone after the chequered flag but completed his lap and jumped to second, relegating Ferrari’s Singapore Grand Prix winner to the drop zone after he encountered traffic on his final flier and only slightly improved on his earlier time.
Also eliminated in Q1 was Haas’s Kevin Magnussen, the Alfa Romeo pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Guanyu Zhou, and Williams’s Logan Sargent, respectively, the latter having both fast lap times deleted for track limits violations.
Verstappen relied on a sole run on new softs to progress from Q2, leaving the field to battle it out for the remaining places in the top 10 over the final minutes.
A late improvement from Russell relegated his Mercedes teammate to the bottom five, Hamilton’s 1:24.359 seeing him miss the top ten by 0.081 seconds, behind Piastri.
Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll, Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo were also eliminated, with less than one-tenth separating the entire bottom five.
The decision to save a pair of softs for Q3 favoured Verstappen, who set a 1:23.445 on his first flier to claim provisional pole.
He wouldn’t better this time the second time out, but it was enough to see him claim the pole following the final round of laps, with Leclerc getting closest at 0.139 seconds behind.
Norris had looked set to challenge at the top but lost ground at Turn 13 with a slight loss of traction, dropping him to fifth.
Monday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix begins at 2.00 am and will be shown live on Sky Sport.
Header Image: Getty Images/ Red Bull Content Pool