Verstappen Nips Mercedes Duo For Abu Dhabi Pole

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Max Verstappen celebrates after claiming the pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. (Kamran Jebreili - Pool/Getty Images Photo)
Max Verstappen celebrates after claiming the pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. (Kamran Jebreili - Pool/Getty Images Photo)

YAS ISLAND, Abu Dhabi – Max Verstappen bested the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to take his first pole of the season for the Red Bull squad on Saturday at the Yas Island Circuit.

Verstappen used an unexpectedly quick lap late in Q3 to steal the pole away from Bottas, with his lap of 1:35.246 nipping Bottas for the top spot for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix by .025 seconds.

The pole is Verstappen’s third of his career and his first pole since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix.

“Very happy with that,” Verstappen said after his fast lap. “It was quite tricky qualifying at the beginning, especially the last sector – there are so many corners where you can make a mistake. Luckily everything came together in that final lap. We will try to do our best and try to keep them (Mercedes) behind. It seems like we have a decent top speed this weekend.”

Bottas will line up alongside Verstappen on the front row for Sunday’s season finale, with Hamilton qualifying third in his return race following his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Lando Norris put together an impressive qualifying effort to qualify fourth to share the second row with Hamilton aboard his McLaren. Red Bull’s Alexander Albon qualified fifth, with the second McLaren driven by Carlos Sainz Jr. qualifying sixth.

Daniil Kvyat of AlphaTauri, Lance Stroll of Racing Point, Charles Leclerc of Ferrari and Pierre Gasly of AlphaTauri completed the top-10 in qualifying.

Sergio Perez, fresh off his first Grand Prix victory last weekend in the Sakhir Grand Prix, qualified 15th but will face a grid penalty for engine component changes.