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Verstappen dominant in Abu Dhabi qualifying

Verstappen dominant in Abu Dhabi qualifying

FORMULA ONE: Max Verstappen dominated qualifying for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Red Bull Racing teammate Sergio Perez yesterday (Nov 19).

By Michael Lamonato

Sunday 20 November 2022, 04:46PM

Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the qualifying session on the eve of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi yesterday (Nov 19). Photo: AFP

Red Bull’s Dutch driver Max Verstappen drives during the qualifying session on the eve of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi yesterday (Nov 19). Photo: AFP

Verstappen was in a class of one all evening at Yas Marina, setting two laps good enough for pole and eventually beating Perez by 0.228 seconds.

The Dutchman was so dominant that he was able to use his second lap to gift Perez a slipstream to boost his chances of qualifying second - without sacrificing his own time, which was an improvement on his previous effort.

It set up Red Bull Racing’s first front-row lockout of the year and his seventh of the campaign.

”For sure today was amazing,” he said. “I still expect it to be a good battle tomorrow.

“At least we have both cars there - we can do what we want.”

Perez was more focused on outqualifying Charles Leclerc, with whom he’s tied on points for second in the drivers championship standings.

The Mexican beat the Monegasque by just 0.04 seconds.

“It’s a good starting place,” he said. “It’s good to lock out that front row for tomorrow.

“We worked as a team really strongly on that final run. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, the day that really matters.”

Despite Leclerc’s tiny margin to Perez in second place, the Ferrari driver said he’d extracted the maximum from his car.

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“To be honest, it’s the place we deserve,” he said. “Today the Red Bulls were stronger, but we’re still in quite a good position tomorrow.

“It’s going to be close with Checo for sure.”

Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were a relatively uncompetitive fifth and sixth at almost 0.7 seconds off the pace. It’s the first season of Hamilton’s career in which he hasn’t scored at least one pole position.

McLaren’s Lando Norris qualified seventh ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon. The two teams are split by 19 points for fourth in the constructors standings

Sebastian Vettel will start ninth after the last qualifying session of his Formula 1 career. He beat Daniel Ricciardo, who’s set to announce this weekend that he will return to Red Bull Racing as a reserve driver for next year.

However, Ricciardo will drop to 13th on the grid after serving a penalty for a crash in last week’s race in Brazil. In his place will be promoted Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher, who was told this week that he wouldn’t be retained next season by his Haas team.

Lance Stroll will line up 14th in his Aston Martin, followed by Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen will start 16th ahead of Pierre Gasly and Valtteri Bottas.

Thai driver Alex Albon will line up 19th ahead of Williams teammate Nicholas Latifi in his final grand prix.

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