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Verstappen stuns F1 and Mercedes to grab first pole position for over a year

Verstappen stuns F1 and Mercedes to grab first pole position for over a year

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Verstappen stuns F1 and Mercedes to grab first pole position for over a year

Verstappen stuns F1 and Mercedes to grab first pole position for over a year

Max Verstappen saved his best to last this season as he claimed only the third pole position of his Formula 1 career to stun Mercedes.

It is the first time this year Mercedes power has failed to clinch top spot on the grid, and the first time for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the current power unit era that the German manufacturer has not locked out the front row.

Verstappen produced a stunning final lap to oust Valtteri Bottas off pole at the death at the Yas Marina Circuit, with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton down in third.

For the Dutch driver, it is also his first pole since last year's Brazilian Grand Prix, finishing just 0.025s up on Bottas, with Hamilton only a further 0.061s down.

McLaren duo Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz finished a superb fourth and sixth to give the team the ideal platform to snatch third place in the constructors' championship from Racing Point.

Sainz, along with the top three, all start on the medium compound tyres, providing the quartet with the ideal options for the race compared to the soft runners around them.

Red Bull's Alex Albon, despite a positive fifth, is one of those who will start on the soft tyres after exceeding track limits on his opening lap in Q2 on the medium rubber, forcing him to use the faster compound to claim his place in the top-10 shoot-out.

Behind Sainz will be AlphaTauri's Daniil Kvyat and Racing Point's Lance Stroll, with the second AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly 10th quickest.

Charles Leclerc was ninth, but in serving a three-place grid penalty for the collision he caused on the opening lap of last weekend's Sakhir Grand Prix, he will start 12th in his Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo, on his farewell appearance with Renault, was beaten by team-mate Esteban Ocon for only the second time this season, with the Australian finishing just 0.047s adrift of the Frenchman.

But in starting 11th and 12th, it was effectively a poor day for Renault in the battle for third in the constructors' championship given it is 22 points adrift of Racing Point.

Sebastian Vettel concluded his final qualifying run for Ferrari in 13th, seventh-tenths of a second adrift of Leclerc in Q2, with the four-time champion lining up on row seven alongside Alfa Romeo's Antonio Giovinazzi.

Sergio Perez, a week after the first victory in his F1 career in the Sakhir GP, reached Q2 but the team opted against him setting a time due to a power unit penalty which will see him start on the back row in 19th.

Giovinazzi did enough to oust Kimi Raikkonen from Q1 by half-a-second and claim a small moral victory by winning their qualifying head-to-head nine-eight.

Like Perez, Kevin Magnussen will start at the back of the grid due to him serving a power unit penalty. Although the Dane was 17th on the timesheet, he will start last after qualifying behind the Mexican.

George Russell failed to live up to the 'Mr Saturday' tag he has earned himself this year due to his exploits in reaching Q2 on numerous occasions.

Russell, bemoaning the fact the soft tyres "were just nowhere, I really struggled", could only manage 18th quickest ahead of Pietro Fittipaldi in his Haas and Williams team-mate Nicholas Latifi, who spun coming out of the last corner on his final lap.

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