Verstappen takes last pole of the year ahead of Hamilton

  • The English driver remains three tenths behind the Dutch and Carlos Sainz secures sixth place on the starting grid, with Alonso out of Q3.

Max Verstappen has taken the last pole position of the season in Abu Dabi, repeating the one he achieved in this same scenario a year ago. The modifications made to the Yas Marina circuit, now faster than in the past, have confirmed the advantage of Mercedes in the fastest sector of the track, second, but the World Cup leader defended himself tooth and nail in the third, much more twisty and set the best time (1.22.109) thanks to a extraordinary teamwork at Red Bull, with Sergio Pérez giving him a timely slipstream in Q3.

In any case, nothing has yet been decided. On a renovated track that favors the overtaking, Pole is not as important here as in recent years and therefore the race may still hold many surprises.

Bollard on track

After three free practice sessions, the first for Verstappen and the next two for Hamilton, it seemed clear that there were reasons for concern at Red Bull against the impressive top speed of their rivals, which according to estimates by the technicians of Milton keynes, they got up to seven tenths on the straights. Hamilton was ‘flying’ in a second sector that can now be tackled with almost no brakes and Verstappen defended himself as best he could in the twisted third sector.

The Dutchman has scored the first reference in Q1 (1.23.628), but Hamilton has ‘erased’ it with a resounding lap at 1.23.266, the best time of the weekend. Max has returned to the load and has remained 56 thousandths of the seven-time champion before the session was interrupted so that the stewards could remove a bollard on the runway.

Change of strategy

Hamilton has lowered his time (1.22.845) and also bottas He has been ahead of Verstappen, who has advanced to the next round in third position, more than 4 tenths of a point behind the Mercedes. The two spanish Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso have passed the first sieve without difficulty and the Williams of Russell and Latifi, the Haas of Schumacher and Mazepin and the Alfa Romeo of Kimi Raikkonen, that in Abu Dhabi says goodbye to F1 after two decades and 350 grands prix.

In the second round of qualifying the differences have been reduced to the limit; just 4 thousandths between the two men fighting for the title. Sainz provisionally placed first (1.23.174) waiting for the final assault on Q3. Verstappen is back on track with soft tire, looking for a different strategy.

The Dutchman has managed to close his lap with the best time (1.22.800), while Hamilton, third to 3 tenths, will have to start with the middle in the race, like Bottas and Tsunoda. Ricciardo He has ruined Alonso’s last attempt, who has been left out with Gasly, Stroll, Giovinazzi and Vettel. For its part, Sainz he has gone to the last round in fourth place.

Master move with Pérez

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The definitive battle for pole has brought a fast paced from the first minute. Red Bull has made a masterful move with Pérez giving Max slipstream, who has taken the lead with a huge lap (1,122,109). Hamilton, ‘alone in the face of danger’, has been half a second behind the Dutch and will start second in another exit from ‘heart attack’. And even more so with a world title at stake, which would be the first for the Neerandés and the eighth, an absolute record, for the British.

This Sunday, December 12, starting at 2:00 p.m., the Abu Dhabi GP will lower the curtain on the World Championship and proclaim the new champion. Verstappen and Hamilton are tied (369.5 points). However, the Red Bull driver leads the table for having one more victory than the Mercedes driver, 9 against 8. The champion will be the one who finishes in front of the other or Max if none of them finishes.

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