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Verstappen takes searing pole as McLaren chance slips away

Verstappen takes searing pole as McLaren chance slips away

Verstappen takes searing pole as McLaren chance slips away

Verstappen takes searing pole as McLaren chance slips away

Max Verstappen secured an emphatic pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of Charles Leclerc in second and Oscar Piastri in third.

George Russell will line-up in fourth after a last gasp effort, with Lando Norris fifth after a mistake and Yuki Tsunoda a shock sixth.

Oscar Piastri was impressive on his way to third place during qualifying

Sergio Perez will start ninth after having his lap disappointingly deleted at the end of Q3, with Pierre Gasly tenth.

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Ferrari caught out in Q1

Teams were hesitant to send their drivers out early on in Q1 as a cooling track was guaranteed to offer more improvement later on in the session.

Logan Sargeant, gunning to not allow his team-mate Alex Albon to outqualify him in every session this year, was the first to set a time before it was deleted.

Max Verstappen seized the initiative to go top of all the runners early on, with multiple teams in pursuit of the Dutchman.

Max Verstappen found his rhythm late on Saturday during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The first runs of Q1 proved that Mercedes could be in trouble, with Lewis Hamilton in 13th ahead of a handful of drivers that were yet to set a time due to deletions.

Sargeant found himself fourth after another lap – but had a second consecutive time deleted, knocking him out of qualifying.

Logan Sargeant lost the qualifying battle 22-0 to team-mate Alex Albon in 2023

Yuki Tsunoda set an impressive time to go second before Carlos Sainz went only 15th with seconds to go.

Behind him on the timesheet and track was Sergio Perez to eliminate the Spaniard in 16th, followed by Kevin Magnussen, Valterri Bottas, Zhou Guanyu and Logan Sargeant.

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Hamilton left stunned again

Putting his fresh tyres to good use, Max Verstappen stormed to the top of the times early on with Lando Norris two tenths behind after finishing a stunning lap on used tyres.

Both Aston Martins snuck inside the top ten with eighth and ninth after appearing to struggle throughout most of the weekend, having also utilised used tyres on their first runs.

After a poor first lap, Alex Albon bolted on some fresh tyres to put his Williams fifth with three minutes to go, albeit a tenth slower than his Q1 time.

Nico Hulkenberg made Q3 for the first time since the Singapore Grand Prix

As the track ramped up, drivers continued to improve, with Nico Hulkenberg and Yuki Tsunoda setting excellent times to send themselves through to Q3.

It wouldn’t be long before another shock would occur, with Lewis Hamilton relegated to 11th at the end of the session by team-mate George Russell – seeing him eliminated for the second race in a row.

Esteban Ocon, Lance Stroll, Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo joined the Brit in bowing out early from the final qualifying session of the year.

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McLaren come up short

Yet again Max Verstappen set the time to beat five minutes in, with the McLaren drivers behind on used tyres by just four tenths.

George Russell sat fourth and seven tenths behind Verstappen, with the bottom end of the top ten incredibly close headed into the final flying laps of the season.

It looked as if Lando Norris may have been able to challenge for pole position until he made a mistake in the final sector of his lap, dropping to fifth.

Lando Norris' mistake may have cost him a front-row start for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Sergio Perez had his time deleted late on to drop him to ninth for Sunday's race, while sister team driver Yuki Tsunoda surprised with sixth.

But no one was able to beat Verstappen's time, with the Dutchman just over a tenth ahead of Charles Leclerc at the conclusion of the session.

F1 Qualifying Results: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2023

The three Qualifying sessions are in the books and here are the results:

1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull):1:23.445

2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari): +0.139

3. Oscar Piastri (McLaren): +0.337

4. George Russell (Mercedes): +0.343

5. Lando Norris (McLaren): +0.371

6. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri): +0.523

7. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin): +0.639

8. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas): +0.663

9. Sergio Perez (Red Bull): +0.726

10. Pierre Gasly (Alpine): +1.103

Eliminated from Q2 11. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

12. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

13. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

14. Alex Albon (Williams)

15. Daniel Ricciardo (AlphaTauri)

Eliminated from Q1 16. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

17. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

18. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)

19. Zhou Guanyu (Alfa Romeo)

20. Logan Sargeant (Williams)

READ MORE: Unstoppable Verstappen is a MAJOR PROBLEM for F1


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