F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix LIVE RESULTS: Verstappen starting on POLE with Hamilton second – latest from Yas Marina

MAX VERSTAPPEN'S Red Bull team are confident he can win the F1 world title after pipping Mercedes to pole position for TODAY'S Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton will be next to him on the front row after stopping the clock marginally slower.

Fellow Brit Lando Norris will be third on the grid for today's finale.

The pair are level on F1 driver's championship points going into the final race of the 2021 season with 369.5 points apiece.

  • Grand Prix start time: 1pm UK (5pm local) today
  • Grid: 1 Max Verstappen 2 Lewis Hamilton 3 Lando Norris 4 Sergio Perez 5 Carlos Sainz 6 Valtteri Bottas

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  • Joshua Mbu

    GOOD MORNING F1 FANS

    Red Bull star Max Verstappen has taken pole position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after beating rival Lewis Hamilton in the qualifying race.

    So it’s advantage Verstappen going into Sunday's final showdown, with Hamilton second on the grid and McLaren's Lando Norris qualifying in third place.

    The British hero set a blistering pace round the track and led the pack from Q1 but the Red Bull superstar responded well to record the fastest time of Q2.

    And the Dutchman maintained his composure going into Q3, beating Hamilton by three-hundredths of a second to take pole.

    The Mercedes star will have to call on his 14 year-experience as he looks to overtake Verstappen across the 58 laps today.

    Hamilton has a brilliant record in Abu Dhabi having won four of the last seven races in the United Arab Emirates capital.

    But it was Verstappen who stood atop the podium in 2020 after taking pole.

    Verstappen said after the race: "It was an amazing feeling, we definitely improved the car again in qualifying.

    "I'm very happy with this, it is what we wanted.

    "Now I am looking forward to tomorrow because that is most important.

    "I was very relaxed going into qualifying and I know my team always give me the best car"

  • Kostas Lianos

    HORNER REACTS

    Red Bull principal Christian Horner provided some insight on how Max Verstappen beat Lewis Hamilton in the quali.

    Horner said: “We discussed the slipstream this morning.

    “We lowered the downforce, it was the only way to match [Mercedes] on the straights. Q2 came more towards us, and then both runs in Q3 were exceptional.

    "That tow, Checo [Sergio Perez] working with his team mate; absolutely perfect teamwork today. I think that's one of Max's best laps of the year”

  • Kostas Lianos

    VERSTAPPEN REACTS

    Max Verstappen denied that a tow from Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez was the sole reason he won Pole 1 over rival Lewis Hamilton.

    Verstappen said: “It was discussed before quali so yes it was very nice, nicely executed as well, but it’s not [the reason] whatever the gap was.

    "I might have gained a tenth towards Turn 9; it’s not a massively long straight.

    “But nevertheless, I mean, Checo’s a great team mate and a real pleasure to work with. So also, a big 'thank you' to him”

  • Kostas Lianos

    HAMILTON REACTS

    Lewis Hamilton admitted rival Max Verstappen "fully deserved" P1 ahead of tomorrow's title decider.

    Hamilton said after the race: “Max did a great lap today.

    "We just couldn’t compete with that time at the end there, but it was looking really strong through practice.

    “We just couldn’t answer to that lap – that was a fantastic lap from him.

    "But we’re in a good position, I’d like to think, with our tyres tomorrow, and I hope we can have a good race… He fully deserved the pole.”

  • Kostas Lianos

    MERCEDES ADMISSION

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted Red Bull have the advantage ahead of Sunday's title decider in Abu Dhabi.

    Wolff said: “It's 1-0 for [Red Bull] today.

    "They got the tyres in the perfect window in the last run.

    "The tow [that Sergio Perez gave Max Verstappen] functioned flawlessly and that's why they're on pole”

  • Kostas Lianos

    LEADERBOARD

    Max Verstappen finished first in the qualifiers at Yas Marina and will be on pole for tomorrow's racing.

    Lewis Hamilton came second, ahead of Lando Norris, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz, who complete the top five.

    More below:

  • Kostas Lianos

    VERSTAPPEN REACTS

    Max Verstappen expressed his gratitude after a masterful performance in qualifying.

    Verstappen said: "AMAZING! Pole is simply the best way to start the final race.

    "Great team effort. Thank you, [Perez], [Red Bull] and [Honda] for the push"

  • Justin Lawrence

    PUBLIC SORRY

    Sky Sports have issued a public apology to Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, and their Red Bull and Mercedes teams over one of their 2021 Christmas TV idents.

    The clip, which ran on Sky during ad breaks, showed footage of Verstappen hurtling off the track after his crash with Hamilton at the British Grand Prix earlier this year.

    Fury has erupted five months after Sky’s decision to use that footage for one of their Christmas idents, and the broadcaster has now admitted the decision was a mistake.

    In a statement, Sky said: “We have apologised unreservedly to Max, Lewis and the teams for wrongly including footage of two crashes in an on air Christmas ident.

    “This was a clear mistake and the images have been removed.”

  • Justin Lawrence

    SWEET DREAMS

    Former world champion, Nico Rosberg, says he could not sleep before his duel with Hamilton in 2016 – and last night, Verstappen was looking forward to getting a good night's sleep.

    He said: "I was very relaxed going into qualifying.

    "I always do the best I can and I know my team always gives me the best possible car.

    "We have been doing that already the whole year and again, it worked really well. This year we have been pushing each other to the limit.

    "We really are trying to get everything out of our cars to the last lap, the last corner. It has been really enjoyable for most of the time.

    "In 20 years time myself and people will look back on it and remember this year."

    And even Hamilton had to agree with his rival that this season has been a titanic tussle for the title.

    He added: "It has been an incredible year. An amazing battle. I am grateful I have had such a close battle with Max and his team.

    "They have done an exceptional job, shown true strength and pushed us to the limit in ways that we needed, I hope we have many more seasons like this."

  • Justin Lawrence

    FIGHTING SPIRIT

    Verstappen has been warned by the FIA that he must keep the first clean – or risk being hit with a points penalty – rather than the usual time penalties.

    It was an unprecedented step from the race stewards to remind the drivers of their conduct ahead of this finale in Abu Dhabi.

    However, Verstappen says he will NOT be changing his tactics having taken pole for today's (SUN) crunch race.

    He added: "I don't want to take him out, I want to beat him. That's another word. Some people find me aggressive, others very aggressive and some people don't.

    "I think I am myself. The last races I have to defend more because we are a bit slower. I don't have the luxury of pulling away in the lead now.

    "Yes, I do everything I can to win. If I don't think like that, I'd better stay home.

    "If I hadn't had that attitude, we wouldn't be here with an equal number of points. Then he would already be the champion."

  • Justin Lawrence

    SHOTS FIRED

    Hamilton was quick to question Red Bull's rear wing while Verstappen himself picked up a £43,000 fine for breaking F1 rules and touching the Merc rear wing in parc ferme in Brazil.

    Clearly, the suspicion over whether the Merc is completely within the rules remains and Red Bull boss failed to rule out the possibility of a protest on Sunday in Abu Dhabi when he was asked directly by SunSport on Thursday.

    Such is the bitterness that now runs between the two teams, Verstappen cannot even bring himself to say Hamilton's name.

    After it was pointed out to him, he confirms "That's right. That happens during a season like this. Too much has happened for that.

    "Not just through that moment [the first lap crash at Silverstone], but throughout the season. The image I have of certain people has changed. And no, not in a positive way.

    "It doesn't matter to me, it's not that I hate it. But I've seen that when the pressure comes on, certain people show a different face. Then their true colours come out."

  • Justin Lawrence

    SPEED TEST

    Max Verstappen claims he would have already wrapped up the F1 title had he been driving Lewis Hamilton's speedy Mercedes.

    The Dutchman has made no secret of the fact he feels he's been targeted by the race stewards as his 19-point advantage was wiped out in the last three races.

    In another attack on his F1 rival, Verstappen is under no doubt as to who has been the best driver in 2021, given his rival's superior car.

    "I think you should think like that if you are a Formula One driver, so I say yes", he said in an interview with De Telegraaf.

    "But I don't need to hear that from anyone else. I don't need that recognition. I find it much more important what I think and what the people who are close to me think.

    "If I had been in his car, the season would have been decided long ago."

  • Justin Lawrence

    NERVOUS NORRIS

    Mclaren driver Lando Norris admits he's abit nervous to be starting behind Hamilton and Verstappen at the Abu Dhabi GP.

    Norris will go into the race in third spot but he's wary about meddling in the title run-in between Verstappen and Hamilton which will be decided on the day.

    He said: “I'm a bit nervous, because I kind of want to just stay where I am, and just watch everything unfold over the first few laps, or even the whole race,” he explained.

    “I also don't want to really get involved too much because it can cause a lot of controversy.

    "So I don't know. I don't know whether to go for the move or not go for the move…you tell me. But I'll do my best and, if I have a chance, I'll go for it.”

  • Justin Lawrence

    MAGIC MAX

    Nico Rosberg claims Max Verstappen delivered something magical with his spectacular pole-winning lap at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    The Dutchman took pole position ahead of tomorrow’s finale in Abu Dhabi and Rosberg thinks he delivered a spell-binding display.

    Rosberg told Sky Sports F1: "With all this discussion, it's so damn simple, this guy just delivered something magical. That's it. It just comes down to that.

    "But, as Max said, the interesting thing is he didn't want to be on the soft for tomorrow so that is what keeps it full of suspense for the race."

  • Joshua Mbu

    WOLFF SPEAKS

    Totto Wolff gave his assessment of Qualifying.

    He said: "I think there is nothing you need to say [to Hamilton]. I think he's going to be angry and that's good.

    "Motivated for tomorrow to hunt him down. Sometimes you need to see the positive and that's not bad. 

    "If he can keep it in P2 obviously that's an advantage. If you lose positions then it becomes more and more difficult.

    "I think they have  put on the small wing so they will have lots of straight line speed… it's only with tyre offset [that you can overtake]."

  • Joshua Mbu

    TOP NO-TCH

    Norris will start from P3 tomorrow.

    Credit: EPA
  • Joshua Mbu

    HORNER SPEAKS

    Red Bull chief Christian Horner has revealed Perez gave up his optimal lap to allow Verstappen to clock in his fastest time.

    Speaking after qualifying, Horner said: "I think that's one of Max's best laps of the year. Even on the following lap he matched the time.

    "The tow was probably worth a tenth or two… not half a second. 

    "I think that Max is giving it everything. He's driving his heart out. He's thrown everything at this session.

    "Checo has sacrificed an optimal lap for him to give his team-mate that performance."

  • Joshua Mbu

    'INCREDIBLY HAPPY'

    Max Verstappen is 'incredibly happy' with his performance in qualifying.

    He said: "It's of course an amazing feeling. We definitely improved the car again in qualifying.

    "Incredibly happy with this. It's never easy with their form the last few races. I am just looking forward to tomorrow because that's where the points are. 

    "I felt good on both tyres. Naturally now in the evening it's a bit cooler so it should be easier on the soft tyres. We'll see where we end up."

    Credit: AFP
  • Joshua Mbu

    HAMILTON HAILS MAX

    Lewis Hamilton has hailed title rival Max Verstappen after the Dutchman took pole position ahead of tomorrow's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    The Brit admitted he 'couldn't compete' with the lap time Verstappen set early on in Q3.

    He said: "Firstly Max did a great lap today. We just couldn't compete with that time at the end.

    "It was looking really strong through practice. We just couldn't answer to that lap. We're in a good position I'd like to think with our tyres tomorrow. 

    "The last lap was nice and clean, I just couldn't go any quicker. I couldn't beat that time he did today, he deserved pole. 

    "I'm still on the front row. I'm grateful I can see where he is!"

  • Joshua Mbu

    Q3 – PUSH IT TO THE MAX

    MAX VERSTAPPEN WILL BE ON POLE!

    Hamilton goes 0.371 slower than his title rival.

    Norris takes 3rd!

    1. Verstappen – 1:22.109
    2. Hamilton
    3. Norris
    4. Perez
    5. Sainz
    6. Bottas
    7. Leclerc
    8. Tsunoda
    9. Ocon
    10. Ricciardo
    11. Alonso
    12. Gasly
    13. Stroll
    14. Giovinazzi
    15. Vettel
    16. Latifi
    17. Russell
    18. Raikkonen
    19. Schumacher
    20. Mazepin
    Credit: GETTY IMAGES
  • Joshua Mbu

    Q3 – ONE MINUTE TO GO

    Last chance for Hamilton to steal the show.

    He's out on soft tyres.

  • Joshua Mbu

    Q3 – VERSTAPPEN BESTS HAMILTON

    WOW!

    Verstappen looks incredibly fast through S2….. can he ace S3? He does!

    He clocks in a time of 1:22.109!

    Over to Hamilton.

    The Brit looks shaky as he heads in S3…… will he beat Verstappen?

    No he can't!

    Hamilton is 0.551 slower than the championship-leading Dutchman!

    Verstappen takes provisional pole.

    Credit: REUTERS
  • Joshua Mbu

    Q3 STARTS

    Here we go…. Q3 is underway!

  • Joshua Mbu

    'FOOD WOULDN'T GO DOWN'

    Rosberg says he was unable to sleep or eat before the final race of the season in 2016 and took to eating cereal if he could, writes BEN HUNT.

    He added: "It was like two, maximum three, hours per night. I couldn't even eat properly.

    "The food wouldn't go down. So I had to revert back to my childhood food which was Frosties and milk. That was the only thing that would go down.

    "And it's all these troubles that you are then fighting throughout the weekend, you just have to try and spare the energy to when it matters."

  • Joshua Mbu

    ROSBERG TIPS LEW TO WIN

    Lewis Hamilton's old enemy, Nico Rosberg, has tipped the Brit to win the title, writes BEN HUNT.

    Rosberg is the only man to beat Hamilton to the title since 2014 when he pipped him to the crown in 2016.

    Rosberg was left so drained after his battle with Hamilton he retired from F1 just days later.

    And he says that Hamilton is the favourite as he's been in this situation before, fighting for titles.

    He said: "Lewis is on fire, he has such great form, winning three in a row and he's brought it here. You feel he has to be a little bit the favourite at the moment.

    "I was in such a title battle in 2016 and it's a lot, just the intensity. The nerves.

    "Someone like Max, from outside, sometimes you think 'This guy doesn't even get nervous' but that's not true.

    "Inside we're still all humans and both of them will be on the edge of their seats this weekend."

    Source: Read Full Article