Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying LIVE: F1 result as Max Verstappen beats Lewis Hamilton to pole position

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Follow all the reaction after Max Verstappen took a step closer to winning the Formula One title as he beat rival Lewis Hamilton to pole position at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Verstappen and Hamilton are level on points heading into the crucial title-decider at the Yas Marina Circuit and the Red Bull driver claimed an early advantage as he beat the Mercedes by 0.371 seconds in Saturday’s qualifying session.

In a dramatic twist, Verstappen suffered a flat-spot to his medium tyres in Q2, forcing Red Bull to switch his starting set to softs ahead of tomorrow’s race. The 24-year-old will start on the faster set of tyres while Hamilton, who joined him on the front row, will be on the mediums.

Verstappen overturned Hamilton’s early pace as he benefitted from a tow from teammate Sergio Perez with a lighting time of 1:22.8, leaving Hamilton almost a half a second away from pole. The seven-time world champion cut the gap with his final flying lap but it wasn’t enough.

McLaren’s Lando Norris claimed a surprise P3, with Perez in fourth. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas could only manage P6. Follow all the latest updates from qualifying below:

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Abu Dhabi GP qualifying

Max Verstappen on pole for Abu Dhabi GP

14:35 , Jamie Braidwood

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, on the crucial tow Verstappen received from Perez to gain pole position.

“We discussed the slipstream this morning, we lowered the downforce, it was the only way to match these guys on the straights. Q2 came more towards us, and then both runs in Q3 were exceptional. That tow, Checo working with his teammate, absolutely perfect team work today. I think that’s one of Max’s best laps of the year.”

Max Verstappen on pole for Abu Dhabi GP

14:31 , Jamie Braidwood

Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff: “We would much rather start on the medium, we will have a slight disadvantage from the start and the first six or seven laps if [Max] goes fast. We can go longer, we can go for an aggressive undercut. I’m also worried for tomorrow because their long runs were much better on Friday.

“I think there is nothing you need to say [to Lewis]. I think he’s going to be angry, which is good. He’s going to be hunting him down. We are on the back foot. This is a long race, and this is Lewis Hamilton in the car.”

Max Verstappen on pole for Abu Dhabi GP

14:23 , Jamie Braidwood

Max Verstappen will start ahead of title rival Lewis Hamilton at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after clinching pole position ahead of Sunday’s race.

Verstappen and Hamilton are level on points heading into the crucial title-decider at the Yas Marina Circuit and the Red Bull driver claimed an early advantage as he beat the Mercedes by 0.371 seconds in Saturday’s qualifying session.

In a dramatic twist, Verstappen suffered a flat-spot to his medium tyres in Q2, forcing Red Bull to switch his starting set to softs ahead of tomorrow’s race. The 24-year-old will start on the faster set of tyres while Hamilton, who joined him on the front row, will be on the mediums.

Verstappen overturned Hamilton’s early pace as he benefitted from a tow from teammate Sergio Perez with a lighting time of 1:22.8, leaving Hamilton almost a half a second away from pole. The seven-time world champion cut the gap with his final flying lap but it wasn’t enough.

McLaren’s Lando Norris claimed a surprise P3, with Perez in fourth. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas could only manage P6.

Max Verstappen takes pole ahead of Lewis Hamilton at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Max Verstappen on pole for Abu Dhabi GP

14:18 , Jamie Braidwood

Lewis Hamilton: “Max did a great lap today, we just couldn’t compete with that time at the end there. We couldn’t answer to that lap, but we’re in a good position with our tyres tomorrow. The last lap was nice and clean, I just couldn’t go any quicker.”

Max Verstappen on pole for Abu Dhabi GP

14:10 , Jamie Braidwood

Max Verstappen: “It’s an amazing feeling. We definitely improved the car in qualifying, we got what we wanted. I’m just looking forward to tomorrow, that’s the most important. I felt good on both tyres, so we’ll see.”

MAX VERSTAPPEN ON POLE FOR ABU DHABI GP

14:07 , Jamie Braidwood

Verstappen takes P1, with Hamilton joining him on the front row of the grid!

The Red Bull will start on the soft tyres while Hamilton will be on the mediums. How big could that be?

Lando Norris completed a brilliant qualifying lap to claim P3.

1) Verstappen

2) Hamilton

3) Norris

4) Perez

5) Sainz

6) Bottas

7) Leclerc

8) Tsunoda

9) Ocon

10) Ricciardo

MAX VERSTAPPEN ON POLE FOR ABU DHABI GP

14:03 , Jamie Braidwood

Here comes Hamilton... and it’s not fast enough!

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

14:01 , Jamie Braidwood

Verstappen benefitted from a tow from teammate Sergio Perez in that lap.

Hamilton needs to find half a second to take pole position from his title rival.

All the drivers are out for the second and final laps of qualifying. Huge moments in the season here.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:57 , Jamie Braidwood

Perez goes third, knocking Bottas down to fifth.

That was a great lap from Max Verstappen. He’s on provisional pole.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:56 , Jamie Braidwood

That is rapid from Verstappen! He aces the final section of the circuit to clock 1:22.109!

And Hamilton can’t respond! He’s over half a second off Verstappen’s pace!

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:53 , Jamie Braidwood

So, what a dramatic twist that could be, how will that affect Sunday’s race?

In the meantime, Q3 is underway! This is where it gets really exciting.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:50 , Jamie Braidwood

Christian Horner, speaking to Sky Sports from the pit lane.

“The lock-up [Verstappen’s flat spot] wasn’t ideal so it forced our hand. We were 50/50 going into the session and it forced our hand. We will be on a different tyre to Mercedes tomorrow, so let’s see how it plays out.”

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:46 , Jamie Braidwood

Hamilton trims a tenth of a second of his time, before Sergio Perez, on softs, nips into P1 ahead of him! Perez was in the drop zone heading into that lap, so he needed a quick one.

But there goes Verstappen! He goes fastest with a 1:22.8 on the soft tyres! That means he will be starting Sunday’s race on the softs, too.

Out in Q2: Alonso, Gasly, Stroll, Giovinazzi, Vettel

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:42 , Jamie Braidwood

Max Verstappen swaps into soft tyres and is coming out for another flying lap.

As a reminder, drivers must start Sunday’s race with the tyre compound in which they record their fastest time of Q2.

Actually, all the drivers have come out for another lap with two minutes of the session to go.

And there’s plenty of traffic out on the track ahead of the flying laps!

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:39 , Jamie Braidwood

Verstappen runs wide in a puff of smoke - is that a puncture?

“****, flat spot!” Verstappen says, as he comes into the pits.

That’s bad news for Red Bull and it remains to be seen how that affects their tyre availability.

In the meantime, Carlos Sainz, on soft tyres, clocks the fastest lap of Q2 so far.

Ricciardo, Stroll, Giovinazzi, Vettel and Gasly are in the drop zone with five minutes to go.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:33 , Jamie Braidwood

Hamilton runs tight into the final corner and clocks another fast lap - this time 1:23.185

But Verstappen responds with his fastest lap of qualifying so far, and he is just 0.004 seconds behind the Mercedes!

It’s incredibly close, but that means both drivers are safely through to the Q3 shootout.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:30 , Jamie Braidwood

Q2 is underway and Hamilton is first out, followed by Bottas! The two Red Bulls are also out sharp. Everyone is on medium tyres, apart from the Aston Martins.

“This compound is going to need a little more work,” Pete Bonnington tells Hamilton on his out-lap.

There’s an incredible sunset at the Yas Marina Circuit.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:28 , Jamie Braidwood

Christian Horner, speaking to Sky Sports from the pit wall.

“They’ve certainly got pace. They did an additional run and we’re trying to save some mileage. I’m not going to give away our hand but we’re going to go out and do our best time. You’ll see our starting tyres in due course.”

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:22 , Jamie Braidwood

Wow, Hamilton goes for another effort on the stroke of the end of the session - and he breaks in to the 1:22s! He’s 0.477s faster than Verstappen now and Mercedes are looking strong.

Out in Q1: Latifi, Russell, Raikkonen, Schumacher, Mazepin

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:18 , Jamie Braidwood

We’re back underway after the rogue bollard was removed from the track.

Shortly before the stoppage, Verstappen clocked a faster time but remains behind Hamilton.

There’s just 0.056 seconds separating the title rivals!

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying - RED FLAG!

13:15 , Jamie Braidwood

There’s a bollard loose on the track at the Yas Marina Circuit - and that brings the session to a stop.

Mick Schumacher hit the bollard as he ran up the inside of the final corner, knocking it onto the track.

Daniel Ricciardo then caught it as he ran wide, knocking it into the middle of the final straight.

The clock is stopped at 6:25 and all the drivers have returned to the pits.

Vettel, Raikkonen, Latifi, Schumacher and Mazepin are in the drop zone as it stands.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:08 , Jamie Braidwood

That’s a lovely lap from Hamilton - he clocks 1:23.266 after lighting up the second sector, that’s 0.4 seconds faster than Verstappen.

Bottas nips in ahead of the Red Bull, too, but Verstappen’s original lap is set to stand despite concerns over the track limits.

That will clearly be enough for Hamilton and Verstappen to advance to Q2.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:06 , Jamie Braidwood

Verstappen strolls around the track in a time of 1:23.680 to go fastest so far, but will this lap be allowed to count?

His Red Bull appeared to run off the track limits at Turn 7, 15 and 16 - let’s see what the race stewards say.

Now it’s Hamilton’s turn - he has emerged from the garage.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:03 , Jamie Braidwood

All the drivers out on track at the moment are on softs - apart from the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz.

Here goes Verstappen on his first flying lap.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

13:01 , Jamie Braidwood

We’re underway! Verstappen goes out immediately at the start of the 20-minute session. Hamilton will wait a little longer.

Five drivers will be eliminated in this first session.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

12:59 , Jamie Braidwood

Here we go! It’s a slightly cooler 30C down on the track as the sun lowers in Yas Marina, at least compared to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit last weekend.

We’re seconds away from the start of Q1.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

12:52 , Jamie Braidwood

As expected, Max Verstappen’s car is ready to go following those last-minute adjustments from his Red Bull team.

Great job there by the engineers.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

12:47 , Jamie Braidwood

Red Bull boss Christian Horner, speaking to Sky Sports.

“It’s a new problem - these cars are getting a little bit old and tired now. As a precaution we changed the part. We dropped the wing to try and get closer on straight-line speed. That’s getting us closer in [sector] one and two.

“For us this journey has been so exciting. Coming into the season we didn’t expect to be challenging at the final race. It’s great to be part of this and pushing [Mercedes].

“We’re always on the front foot and that’s what we’ll be doing this weekend.

“Like-for-like, they’re quicker that us over a lap. Sometimes you’ve got to try different things to get a different result.

“Max is the same as he has been all year. He’s in a good head space, oblivious [to the pressure].”

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

12:40 , Jamie Braidwood

The Red Bull engineers are currently scrambling around the garage making some last-minute adjustments to Max Verstappen’s car...

There appears to be an issue with his rear wing - and across the garage, teammate Sergio Perez doesn’t even have one!

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

12:37 , Jamie Braidwood

We’re just 30 minutes away from the start of qualifying for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

Ahead of the final instalment of the most enthralling seasons in recent memory, The Independent’s sports editor Ben Burrows profiles Lewis Hamilton ahead of what could be the crowning moment of a historic and illustrious career in Formula One.

Lewis Hamilton – the Formula One superstar chasing history | Ben Burrows

F1: Another incident between Hamilton and Mazepin?

12:28 , Jamie Braidwood

Lewis Hamilton was handed a reprimand for impeding Nikita Mazepin at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix last weekend, and the two drivers got caught up with one another again during this morning’s practice!

With Mazepin on a hot lap in FP3, but running wide coming into the final corner, he had to avoid Hamilton as he was emerging from the pits.

The incident is not set to be investigated, as it stands, but it’s certainly one to keep an eye on...

F1 drivers make title prediction

12:20 , Jamie Braidwood

The F1 grid has been split on whether it will be Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen who wins the championship this weekend.

Sebastian Vettel: “Well, Michael [Schumacher] is my hero. For that reason I probably don’t want Lewis to win. But the truth is they’ve both had a strong season, they are going into the last race with the opportunity to win this championship because they both deserve it. And I get along with Lewis; the gut says I want Max to win to keep Michael’s record alive but my head is quite clean or clear, may the better man win.”

Fernando Alonso: “It will depend on the package a little bit; Mercedes lately have been more performing and they’ve won a couple of races now, but Max is driving – in my opinion – one step ahead of all of us. It’s not that I support Max, it’s that he deserves it, in my opinion.”

George Russell: “For me I’d love to see Lewis win. I think what he has achieved, especially recently, is pretty exceptional, to even be in the fight altogether when Red Bull had such a far superior car at the start of the year. Max has done an exceptional job; you can argue that they both deserve to win for different reasons but hopefully it’s a clean and fair race and the best man wins.”

F1: Verstappen must marry speeds with smarts to edge Hamilton

12:06 , Tom Kershaw

Max Verstappen’s aggressive driving has drawn plenty of controversy this season. To edge Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, though, the Dutchman will need to marry his courage with smarts.

Max Verstappen must marry smarts with speed to beat Lewis Hamilton to F1 title

F1: Hamilton’s greatness goes beyond the track

11:43 , Tom Kershaw

With just over an hour until qualifying gets underway in Abu Dhabi, here is some pre-race reading from Tony Evans, focusing on how Lewis Hamilton’s positive influence goes way beyond the wheel.

Lewis Hamilton’s greatness goes far beyond the F1 track

F1: De Bruyne throws support behind Verstappen

11:36 , Tom Kershaw

Ahead of Manchester City’s early kick-off against Wolves this afternoon, midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has sent Max Verstappen a good luck message.

F1: Hamilton on top after final practice session

11:25 , Tom Kershaw

Here is our report from that final practice session. The advantage would appear to be with Hamilton, but it’s certainly all to play for as we gear up for qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton dominates final practice ahead of title showdown at Abu Dhabi GP

11:13 , Tom Kershaw

F1: Final practice session ends

11:05 , Tom Kershaw

The chequered flag waves and Hamilton can’t better his leading time. Here are the results from the final practice session:

1. Hamilton - 1:23.274

2. Verstappen - 1:23.488

3. Bottas - 1:24.025

4. Perez - 1:24.047

5. Norris - 1:24.106

F1: Perez providing little threat to Mercedes

10:59 , Tom Kershaw

Perez is providing few warnings of being a threat to the front row and sits in fourth as it stands. He’s still seven-tenths of a second adrift of Hamilton’s fastest lap. The Briton is back out on the track and looks to be going for one last flying lap.

F1: Verstappen closes gap

10:51 , Tom Kershaw

Now Verstappen posts a flying lap and that’s encouraging for Red Bull. He’s just two-tenths of a second adrift of Hamilton, and the engineers believe this hot track is working to Mercedes’ benefit. Remember, it will have cooled down a lot before qualifying gets underway at 1pm.

F1: Verstappen out on soft tyres

10:48 , Tom Kershaw

Verstappen is out on the soft tyres now but abandons his flying lap after a lack of turn at the sixth corner. “Unbelievable,” the Dutchman says over his radio.

F1: Hamilton concerned about car temperature

10:43 , Tom Kershaw

Hamilton tells the Mercedes crew that the rear of his car is very hot. The track temperature is around 38C right now, although that’ll cool down considerably during the gap between this final practice session and the start of qualifying.

F1: Hamilton clear of Verstappen in practice for now

10:33 , Tom Kershaw

Hamilton is almost 1.5s quicker than Verstappen so far, however, the Red Bull driver is still on medium tyres. We’ll get a far more realistic look at the gap once he switches to softs nearer the end of the final practice session.

F1: Hamilton sets new fastest lap

10:31 , Tom Kershaw

Hamilton was on for a perfect lap but did suffer from a slight oversteer at turn 13. That does little harm to the Briton’s time, though, setting a new fastest lap of 1:23.27411. That’s almost three-quarters of a second quicker than his teammate.

F1: Bottas goes fastest

10:28 , Tom Kershaw

Bottas goes fastest now with a lap of 1:24.02510, three-hundredths of a second ahead of teammate Hamilton.

F1: Perez goes third with Bottas fourth

10:23 , Tom Kershaw

So much of tomorrow’s Grand Prix could depend on the grid order and whether Bottas can steal a spot on the front row and then provide some protection to Hamilton. It’s Verstappen’s teammate, Perez, who’s currently third fastest in this practice session, though, after posting a 1:24.832 lap. Bottas trails just behind on 1:25.0458.

F1: Hamilton goes top on soft tyres

10:15 , Tom Kershaw

Hamilton changes onto the soft tyres and posts a new fastest time of the session of 1:24.2414.

F1: Final practice session underway

10:12 , Tom Kershaw

The final practice session is now underway and Verstappen wastes no time, posting a lap of 1:24.997.

Kimi Raikkonen, who crashed out yesterday afternoon, posts the second quickest time.

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas are both out on the track now, too.

F1: Horner accuses Mercedes of creating Verstappen narrative

10:03 , Tom Kershaw

That brief peace treaty did not stop Horner accusing Mercedes’ “media machine” of creating a narrative around Verstappen’s aggressive driving this season.

“I think that on occasion he has been treated harshly, he has come under scrutiny that we haven’t seen applied consistently with other incidents and he feels aggrieved by that,” Horner said.

“I think the problem for Max is that the scrutiny is on him. He has the spotlight positioned on him, he is running at the front and competing against a seven-time world champion.

“He has had allegations about his driving, his driving style and driving standards – there has been a narrative pushed to put pressure on him. He has driven fantastically well all year.

“Lewis is a seven-time world champion, most successful of all time, has a standing within the sport. What he says carries a lot of weight. He has used every tool available to him to put Max under pressure this year, he is a competitive animal, you don’t become a seven-time world champion without being a competitor like he is.

“I believe, aided by the Mercedes media machine, a huge amount of pressure had been placed on Max. He is a young lad who does it with bravery, passion, skill and determination.

“He is just a guy living his dream, doing his job but is up against not only Lewis but a huge machine in Mercedes-Benz, all credit to him for the way he has handled it this year and hasn’t been drawn into it, he has just gone about it, hasn’t changed from Bahrain to Saudi. This ‘Mad Max’ scenario, calling him crazy, there has been a very clear narrative.”

F1: Wolff and Horner bury hatchet ahead of finale

09:56 , Tom Kershaw

Team principals Toto Wolff and Christian Horner have been engaged in a bitter war of words for much of the season, but the Mercedes and Red Bull chiefs shook hands at their final press conference and wished one another luck.

“Good luck. May the best man and the best team win,” Wolff said to Horner. “This one is just a fierce fight between teams and drivers that have done a really great job, but, sometimes in the races [Max and Lewis] were 45 seconds up the road lapping almost the whole field.

“It shows that the push that all of us have done in order to win this is a level that certainly in my years at Mercedes is unprecedented.”

Red Bull trail Mercedes by 28 points in the constructors’ championship, with Horner admitting it’ll be a “long shot” to overturn such a deficit on Sunday, but hailed the huge strides his team have made this season.

“Who’d have thought coming into this season that we’d be here with an outside shot of going for the [constructors’ trophy] but to be tied on points with Lewis?” Horner said.

“It’s been an amazing journey, it’s been an amazing championship. We’ve won 10 races, nine [of which] Max has won. That’s matched his previous victories from the previous seasons he’s been involved in the sport.”

F1 living up to its newfound hype

09:54 , Tom Kershaw

In this preview ahead of what is guaranteed to be a thrilling climax to the F1 season, Vithushan Ehantharajah analyses how the sport is living up to its newfound Netflix generated hype.

Fans new and old hooked on F1 renaissance living up to Netflix hype

F1: Hamilton and Verstappen trade times in practice

09:52 , Tom Kershaw

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen traded fastest times in the opening two practice sessions yesterday, with Red Bull fastest in the morning and Mercedes dominant in the second session.

The alterations around the Yas Marina circuit saw Verstappen run over 12 seconds faster than the quickest time in the corresponding session here last year.

The Dutchman’s Red Bull set the early bar at the altered track, posting a time of one minute 25.009 seconds to finish 0.346secs clear of Hamilton, who was third behind his Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

The second session, under the Yas Marina floodlights, went the other way as Hamilton set about showing the pace in his Mercedes.

The seven-time world champion was impressive setting a time of 1:23.691s, with Verstappen only able to come in fourth-fastest, 0.641 adrift.

Alpines’ Esteban Ocon was closest to Hamilton in second, still some 0.343 off the pace, with the sister Mercedes of Bottas in third.

Verstappen edged out team-mate Sergio Perez, with the Alpine of Fernando Alonso sixth and Yuki Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri seventh.

The top 10 was completed by the Ferraris, with Charles Leclerc faster than Carlos Sainz, and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly.

The session ended prematurely as the retiring Kimi Raikkonen crashed out on his final race weekend in Formula One.

F1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

09:45 , Tom Kershaw

Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage as the F1 season reaches its thrilling climax in Abu Dhabi.

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen head into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix level on 369.5 points after a long, exhilarating and regularly acrimonious battle. Their rivalry reached a boiling point at last week’s chaotic Saudi Arabian GP, where Verstappen forced Hamilton off the track and later appeared to break suddenly in front of the Mercedes car, causing a collision and damage to Hamilton’s front wing. The drama could not prevent Hamilton from taking a third successive chequered flag, though, to leave the drivers’ championship resting on a knife-edge.

Qualifying could be crucial in determining the outcome of Sunday’s race. Hamilton and Verstappen traded fastest times in Friday’s practice sessions, but if Valtteri Bottas can somehow complete a Mercedes front row, the Finn can provide a welcome defence against Verstappen’s increasingly aggressive, if not outright reckless, driving. Crucially, if neither Verstappen nor Hamilton finishes the Grand Prix, it is the Dutchman who will claim a maiden world title on Sunday owing to having more overall race wins this season.

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