New livery for Haas F1

An American Formula 1 team now becomes Russian, as Haas unveils its new livery for the 2021 campaign featuring title sponsor Uralkali.

The new VF-21 is a big change from what Haas has traditionally run in, adopting red and blue colours on the white base to reflect the colours of the Russian flag.

Uralkali is the world’s largest potash fertiliser producer and is headed up by Dmitry Mazepin, the father of 2021 Haas driver Nikita Mazepin.

“I’m very pleased to welcome Uralkali to Formula 1 as title partner to Haas F1 Team,” said team owner Gene Haas.

“We look forward to representing their brand throughout the season. It’s definitely a case of all change but I’m hoping that we get back to being in the mix for scoring some points at these races.

“It’s been a tough couple of seasons, but we’ve also got our eye on the bigger picture, in particular 2022 and the implementation of the new regulations.”

Haas enters the 2021 season following a difficult season that saw the team score just three points as it finished ninth in the constructors’ championship.

It will begin the upcoming season with an all-new driver line-up following the departures of both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen at the end of last year.

Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher graduates to Formula 1 with Haas, making his Grand Prix debut 30 years after his father, Michael, began his illustrious career.

Ferrari junior Schumacher will be joined at Haas by Mazepin, who finished fifth in last year’s Formula 2 standings with two race victories.

Haas has opted against spending its two permitted development tokens on its car for 2021 following the majority carry-over in designs under the revised technical regulations.

The move was taken to ensure the team can focus all of its resources on development for 2022, when there is an overhaul of the technical rulebook.

“It will be quite a challenging season going forward, we know about that,” said Steiner.

“We’ve braced ourselves for it. We’ll do as much as we can for this year for the mid-term, compromise the short term for the gains on the mid- to long-term. That’s our plan at the moment.”

The team has been boosted by strengthened ties with power unit supplier and technical partner Ferrari, which has established a ‘Haas hub’ at its Maranello base and redeployed staff with the American outfit.

Collective testing then runs from 12-14 March at the Bahrain International Circuit before the formal start of the 2021 season with the Bahrain Grand Prix on 28 March.

British racing green returns with the Aston Martin AMR21

The iconic British racing green makes a comeback following the Aston Martin reveal of the AMR21. The famous car manufacturer is marking the return of the constructor to the grid after 61 years away.

Racing Point are no more, with a rebrand to become Aston Martin. The team has adopted the British racing green colour that has long been teased, as well as retaining some pink elements that Racing Point was known for through sponsor BWT.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel made his first public appearance with the outfit at the launch event following his winter move from Scuderia Ferrari, joining new teammate Lance Stroll.

Both drivers will sample the new Aston Martin Formula 1 car for the first time when it completes a shakedown during a Silverstone filming day.

The AMR21 car is an evolution of last year’s RP20 following the freeze on wholesale development under the technical regulations in a bid to cut costs following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Technical director Andrew Green said the focus for the team over the winter had been on recovering the downforce lost under the rule changes for 2021, as well as updating the rear of the car to 2020-spec as designed by Mercedes.

“The main drive in performance is aerodynamics, so there’s obviously a big push on the aerodynamic side,” Green explained to select media.

“The regulation change that came through late last year had a big effect on the aero performance and we spent the winter trying to try to recover the losses from the changes in the regulations.

“That’s been a big focus. We’ve changed the rear of the car now to the 2020 suspension as supplied by Mercedes.

“That was always the plan. So those are the two main areas that we’ve been focused on over the winter.”

Aston Martin will look to build on an impressive year for Racing Point in 2020 that saw the team finish fourth in the constructors’ championship, and score its first victory at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Team principal Otmar Szafnauer outlined the goals for Aston Martin in 2021, targeting a continuation of its late-season form from last year and greater consistency over the season.

“Success would be to start the season where we left off,” Szafnauer said.

“We were very competitive in the races towards the end of last year.

“Unfortunately, we had a few crucial engine failures towards the end, which meant we didn’t extract all the points we could have out of that performing car.

“If we can start with that car performance where we left off, but do a better job scoring points more regularly, and be a more consistent points scorer, I think that would be a success for us.”

Alpine presents the new A521

Alpine Formula 1 racing team has unveiled their new 2021 race car following the rebranding from Renault over the winter break.

In a virtual launch event hosted from the Enstone base, Alpine presented the new A521 car ahead of its race debut.

2021 will see the Alpine name make its appearance in the sport after Renault opted to rebrand its works outfit as part of a restructuring of the group’s companies and marques.

The team presented an interim livery in January, incorporate the red, white and blue French tricolore colours onto a black base design that was used for private test running with older cars.

Renault finished fifth in last year’s constructors’ championship, but scored three podium finishes to mark its first appearances since returning to Formula 1 as a works outfit in 2016.

Esteban Ocon will continue with the team for a second year, having picked up his maiden Formula 1 podium with Renault last season at the Sakhir Grand Prix with a second-place finish.

Following Daniel Ricciardo’s departure to McLaren, Ocon will be joined by the returning double world champion Fernando Alonso.

Alonso is returning to the sport after two years away racing in sportscars, IndyCar and the Dakar Rally, and will embark on his third separate stint at Enstone, joining on a multi-year deal.

Alonso first raced for Renault between 2003 and 2006, winning the world championship in 2005 and 2006 season. After one year at McLaren, he returned for 2008 on a two-year deal before leaving for Ferrari.

Fernando was not present for the team launch on Tuesday after a cycling accident last month delayed his pre-season preparations. His first appearance in Alpine colours will come at the start of pre-season testing.

The Alpine squad has undergone a number of managerial changes following the rebrand, including the exit of former team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

Former Suzuki MotoGP boss Davide Brivio has joined Alpine as its new racing director, marking his first stint into Formula 1, and will head up the team alongside executive director Marcin Budkowski. Both will report to newly-appointed Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi.

The Alpine A521 will make its first extended on-track appearance at the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain, which takes place from 12-14 March.

World champions Mercedes reveals the W12

Defending world champions Mercedes showcase their new 2021 racer, W12, and will go for the eighth consecutive constructors’ title this season.

Mercedes has retained the black-based livery for this year following its switch before the start of last season in a strong anti-racism message as supported by Lewis Hamilton.

But the team has replaced the speckled-star design on the engine cover, in favour of a series of stickers for its AMG brand against a background that fades to silver.

Although there is a majority carry-over from the W11 following the freeze on development, all Formula 1 teams have been permitted to spend two development tokens on major updates for the 2021 cars.

Mercedes revealed in February that it was battling some “issues” with its updated power unit, but was confident of getting fixes in place in time for the new season.

The German manufacturer enters the 2021 season following a busy winter off the back of its drivers’ and constructors’ championship successes last year.

The team announced shortly after the end of the season that INEOS had become a new shareholder, taking a one-third share in the squad, with team principal Toto Wolff upping his stake to the same level.

Wolff also agreed to continue to serve as Mercedes team principal for at least three more years, having overseen its streak of seven consecutive title wins since 2014.

While there are no changes in Mercedes’ driver line-up, the team only announced in February that seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton had signed for 2021, agreeing a one-year extension.

The deal ensured Hamilton stayed on the grid, but the short deal has led to a number of questions about his future beyond 2021.

Hamilton won 11 out of 17 races in 2020 as he swept to a record-equalling seventh Formula 1 championship, matching Michael Schumacher’s long-standing record.

Hamilton will be joined at Mercedes for a fifth season by championship runner-up Valtteri Bottas, who is also out of contract at the end of the year, making the team a key focus point in the driver market.

The Mercedes W12 will enjoy its first extended on-track running at the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain, which takes place from 12-14 March.

Charging Red Bull RB16B

This is the new Red Bull Racing RB16B from the Milton Keynes-based squad.

The RB16B is an evolution of the last season’s RB16, with team boss Christian Horner explaining at the end of last year that there would be a carryover of around 60 percent of the 2021 challenger.

The team hopes, however, that the lessons it learned from last season, when drivers Max Verstappen and Alex Albon struggled at times with a tricky balance, have been taken on board and it can prove to be stronger against Mercedes. It has targeted making the RB16B more consistent across different types of tracks.

Red Bull Racing’s hopes of being able to fight harder against Mercedes will also rest on the work that engine supplier Honda has done with its new Formula 1 engine, ahead of the Japanese manufacturer’s last season in the sport.

Horner said that Red Bull was well aware of where it needed to improve, and that progress on both the chassis and engine front would prove beneficial.

“I wouldn’t say the [problems] were exclusive to aero,” Horner said about the difficulties of last year. “These things always work in tandem. But I think that we made good progress through 2020 and we’ll see whether RB16B has its challenges from the regulation changes, but that’s obviously the same for all teams.

“Hopefully, with a lot of good lessons that we learned last year, we’ll manage to apply those into the updated car.”

Red Bull is heading in to 2021 with a new driver line-up, after Albon was demoted to the role of reserve and test driver at the end of last season.

That came with Red Bull electing to sign Sergio Perez as Verstappen’s teammate, off the back of an impressive campaign that the Mexican delivered for Racing Point in 2020.

Red Bull thinks that the addition of Perez will be vital if it is to disrupt Mercedes and prevent the German car manufacturer from taking an eighth consecutive Formula 1 title double.

Honda’s final season in Formula 1 this year will be followed by Red Bull taking over the engine project itself and running the power units from 2022 under its own name.

Work is already underway at Red Bull’s Milton Keynes campus to ramp up its powertrain facilities in readiness for the new challenge.

Alfa Romeo’s 2021 racer

This is the Alfa Romeo’s new C41 Formula 1 racing car, which was unveiled in a launch event at Warsaw, Poland.

Featuring a revised livery that has inverted the colours from last season’s car, in particular the engine cover as this is in white with the logo in red. Title sponsor PKN Orlen makes an appearance on the red sidepods.

The C41 will make its on-track debut in a shakedown at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya before enjoying its first extended run-out in pre-season testing in Bahrain.

“The launch of a new car is always an emotional moment, the culmination of months of effort from everyone back at the factory and the start of a new adventure,” said team principal Frederic Vasseur.

“I think the philosophy upon which the team is based remains the same – we have to do a better job tomorrow than we are doing today. We finished last season in P8, so we have to target a better result in 2021. To do so, we have to keep improving in each department, trackside and back at HQ.

“Every team on the grid has very high expectations right now: all the teams expect to do a good job in the winter and to be in a good position for the first race, but soon it will be the time for everyone to show their cards.”

Alfa Romeo enters the 2021 season looking to bounce back from a disappointing campaign last year that mainly saw it fighting with Haas and Williams in the ‘Class C’ division.

Although the team was able to match its finish of eighth position in the constructors’ championship from 2019, its points tally was disappointing as Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi only collected eight points, recording a race finish of no higher than ninth.

Alfa Romeo was limited by the poor performance of Ferrari’s power units throughout last year, but the Italian marque hopes to have resolved the issues ahead of the 2021 season.

It is anticipated that Sauber Motorsport – which operates the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 squad out of Switzerland – is expected to extend its partnership with Ferrari until 2025. The current deal expires at the end of this season.

Alfa Romeo opted to retain both Raikkonen and Giovinazzi for 2021, marking their third year racing together.

The duo will be joined by reserve driver Robert Kubica once again as the team retains title sponsorship from Polish firm PKN Orlen, prompting this season’s unveiling to take place.

AlphaTauri reveals 2021 racer

Scuderia AlphaTauri become the the second Formula 1 outfit to revealed their Honda-powered race car for the upcoming season.

After a successful 2020 season in which Pierre Gasly returned to the Faenza-based team to the top step of the podium by winning the Italian Grand Prix.

Gasly is staying on for this year, but will have a new teammate as Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda is stepping up from Formula 2 as replacement for Daniil Kvyat.

The AT02 is an evolution of last year’s car, but the team has made a big aerodynamic push to try to find improvements as it has also been forced to respond to regulations changes in the floor and brake duct area.

Technical director Jody Egginton has said that although the chassis is a carryover from last year, the overall package has undergone a lot of improvement.

“The work which has been undertaken to develop our car for 2021 goes far beyond compliance with regulation changes,” he said.

“It has involved changes to nearly all aero surfaces and also development and repackaging large parts of the car, which are hidden, in order to achieve these changes.

“We have spent a lot of time working to recover the aero losses as a result of the regulation changes, while also focusing on increasing and improving the car’s aerodynamic operating window.

“This activity will continue into the season, with the split of resource between the 2021 and 2022 projects reviewed and adjusted as required to maximise the potential of both projects.”

Although Formula 1’s rules allowed AlphaTauri to upgrade its suspension to Red Bull’s 2020 specification, the team decided to keep with the version it ran last season.

It has however used two development tokens for a new nose, and has redesigned the outboard front suspension – which has triggered some updating of steering components to those used by Red Bull Racing last year.

AlphaTauri is sticking with Honda engines for the Japanese car manufacturer’s final season in the sport, and will then move to Red Bull power units like its sister team from 2022.

The dark livery looks fantastic and best wishes to the AlphaTauri in achieving the highs like Pierre Gasly’s incredible win at Monza.

McLaren unveils their new 2021 race car

McLaren Racing becomes the first Formula 1 team to unveil their 2021 race car for this season, with the MCL35M.

The overall look is similar to last season’s chassis, but new for 2021 will be the Mercedes power unit. In addition, Daniel Ricciardo has joined the team following the news that Carlos Sainz, Jr is now racing for Ferrari.

The new MCL35M car retains largely the same livery as last year as McLaren sticks with its usual papaya orange and blue design, though some subtle changes such as shifting the rainbow scheme previously on the halo to the rear of the car.

A new partnership with Mercedes with McLaren is reflected in the car name, adding the ‘M’ designation to last year’s MCL35, but there is no Mercedes branding on the car due to the nature of their customer agreement.

Despite the freeze in the technical regulations between 2020 and 2021, McLaren has been forced to make a sizeable number of changes to its new car in order to accommodate the new Mercedes power unit, as well as accounting for the downforce cuts enforced by the updated regulations.

The team has spent its two permitted development tokens on the rear of the car, but remains confident of fighting for third place in the constructors’ championship once again.

“All of us at McLaren are ready and determined for another season of intensely competitive Formula 1 racing,” said team principal Andreas Seidl.

“The entire team has worked hard over the short winter, together with our colleagues from Mercedes-AMG, to produce the MCL35M and provide a strong car for our drivers to race this year.

“This has been no small challenge, and I want to thank every member of our team, whether at the MTC or working remotely, for the massive effort they’ve put in. Lando and Daniel will, I know, do their very best to represent the team out on track.”

McLaren enjoyed its best season since 2012 last year as Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz both scored podiums, leading the team to third in the teams’ standings behind only Mercedes and Red Bull.

Following Sainz’s move to Ferrari, seven-time Grand Prix winner Ricciardo has arrived on a three-year deal from Renault, bringing 10 seasons’ worth of experience to McLaren.

“It’s great to have finally joined the team after what feels like an age since we confirmed it last May, said Ricciardo.

“I’m thrilled to be a McLaren driver and super-keen to get started. McLaren has been on an awesome journey over the last few years, and I’m looking forward to helping the team maintain this positive momentum.

“I’ve been spending the last few weeks here in the UK getting fully integrated into the team so that we’re as prepared as possible for the start of the season.

“I’m feeling excited and motivated to give it my absolute all. I think my determination to perform has only grown as I’ve gained more experience and I’m looking forward to getting this next chapter in my career started.”

2021 heralds a reunion of McLaren and Mercedes, who were previously works partners between 1995 and 2009 before the formation of Mercedes’ own team for the 2010 season. McLaren continued as a Mercedes customer until the end of 2014, when it switched to Honda.

McLaren-Mercedes won three drivers’ championships and one constructors’ title in their 20-season spell together, as well as recording the most recent McLaren victory at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix.

The new McLaren MCL35M will get its first on-track outing at Silverstone when the team holds a filming day, acting as a shakedown for the new car.

It will then enjoy its first extended run-out at the start of pre-season testing in Bahrain next month, which runs from 12-14 March.

The opening round of the 2021 season then takes place on 28 March in Bahrain.

 

Verstappen victorious in season finale

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen drove a brilliant lights to flag race to win the season finale at Yas Marina, finishing ahead of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton as Formula 1’s 2020 championship ended with a straightforward race.

At the start, the top three appeared to launch equally well, with Verstappen moving to the middle of the track from pole to fend off any threat of attack from the Mercedes duo behind, moving clear as Bottas had a slight slide exiting the first corner.

The race quickly settled down, with the top three running as they lined up on the grid, as Verstappen quickly pulled a healthy gap to the following Black Arrows.

By the start of lap four of 55, Verstappen’s lead was 2.2 seconds, as he and Bottas were able to run in the mid one minute, 42 seconds, while Hamilton dropped back – lapping in the one minute, 43 seconds.

Verstappen edged his lead up to three seconds over the next five laps, but had to surrender that when the race was neutralised – first with a virtual safety car, then a full safety car – after Sergio Perez retired with what appeared to be a transmission problem exiting Turn 19 on lap nine.

The Racing Point driver, who had been working his way up from P19 on the grid following his pre-race penalty for taking a fresh power unit, pulled over to the side of the track just past the left-hander under the W Hotel in the third sector after losing drive.

The top three immediately pitted – then under the VSC – to switch their mediums for hards, with the situation upgraded to a full safety car as the Racing Point could not be quickly moved out of harms way.

That meant Verstappen’s lead was erased, but he quickly set about re-establishing it after acing the restart at the beginning of lap 14 – pulling away by 1.4 seconds in the ensuing tour.

The leaders were then able to run in the one minute, 41 seconds as they ran clear of Alex Albon, who had passed McLaren’s Lando Norris shortly before Perez retired, with Hamilton again falling a chunk behind Bottas in third.

Verstappen kept increasing his advantage, despite concerns about making his hard tyres last to the finish, during the next phase of the race, where he was regularly able to lap in the low one minute, 41 seconds while the Mercedes drivers swung between the mid-high one minute, 41 seconds.

By lap 35, Verstappen’s advantage had reached eight seconds, as he committed to controlling the careful way he treated his front and rear tyres to maintain the balance he was enjoying.

Although the gap between the top two then ebbed and flowed fractionally between Verstappen and Bottas as they negotiated backmarkers, with the leader concerned about vibrations he was feeling as his tyres wore further with just over 10 laps to go, but the Red Bull driver never looked under major threat.

He came home to win by 15.9 seconds after staying in the one minute, 41 seconds in the final stages as the Mercedes regularly fell back to the one minute, 42 seconds, with Hamilton finishing 2.4 seconds behind Bottas on his return following his COVID-19-enforced absence after the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The world champion had closed in on his teammate during the closing phase of the race, but never looking like he’d be able to get close enough to make a pass and indeed fell back away in the final laps.

Albon finished 1.5 seconds behind Hamilton, closing in suddenly as the laps ticked down to the flag, with Norris leading home his teammate Carlos Sainz in fifth and sixth.

The result secures P3 in the constructors’ championship for McLaren, although Sainz faces a post-race investigation for possibly going too slowly in the pitlane during the VSC when running in front of Lance Stroll, before he arrived for the second part of McLaren’s double-stack stop.

Daniel Ricciardo rose from P11 on the grid to finish seventh, not stopping under the VSC to leap up the order and then running long on the hards he had started the race on.

In his final race for Renault, Ricciardo was able to produce strong pace as his long opening stint wore on, but after he’d pitted to take the mediums with 16 laps left the tyre advantage he had was not significant enough for him to close in on the driver he will replace at McLaren 2021.

Ricciardo set the fastest lap on the race on the last lap – a one minute, 40.926 seconds.

Pierre Gasly took eighth, putting a firm pass at Turn 11 on Stroll’s remaining Racing Point just past half-distance, with Esteban Ocon getting ahead late on to steal ninth.

Stroll therefore rounded out the top ten ahead of Daniil Kvyat.

Charles Leclerc finished P13 ahead of Sebastian Vettel in the four-time world champion’s final race for Ferrari, with the duo also not stopping under the VSC to climb up the order before they fell back struggling for grip compared to those that had come in earlier.

So not the most thrilling race but really happy for Max Verstappen in winning the final Grand Prix in this surreal 2020 season. Congratulations to Red Bull Racing in being victorious at Yas Marina. Fingers crossed, next year will be back to normal and bring on the fight for the championship.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda     1:36:28.645
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 15.976
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 18.415
4 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 19.987
5 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:00.729
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:05.662
7 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:13.748
8 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:29.718
9 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:41.069
10 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:42.738
11 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1 lap
12 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1 lap
14 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1 lap
15 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
16 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1 lap
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1 lap
18 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1 lap
19 Pietro Fittipaldi Haas-Ferrari 2 laps
– Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes DNF

Verstappen snatches pole position from the Mercedes duo

Max Verstappen finally achieves his first pole position of the 2020 season by snatching the top spot from the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton at the Yas Marina circuit.

Bottas edged Hamilton on their final runs as the world champion returned to qualifying action following his absence from the Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19.

All three of the leading drivers will start the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the advantageous medium compound.

After the first runs had been completed in Q3, Bottas’s lap time of one minute, 35.415 seconds led the way by 0.104 seconds over Verstappen, with Hamilton 0.135 seconds adrift – losing time to a snap of oversteer exiting the Turns 5/6 chicane early in the second sector.

But the 2020 world champion quickly found time on his final Q3 run, looking as if he would get the jump on Bottas through the opening two sectors before losing time as the lap wore on.

Hamilton nevertheless jumped to provisional pole, but was shuffled back to second position by Bottas’s one minute, 35.271 seconds before Verstappen stole ahead of the Mercedes duo on his own finale effort.

The Red Bull Racing driver set the fastest time in the middle sector before hanging on with a personal best in sector three to take pole with a one minute, 35.246 seconds, 0.025 seconds up on Bottas and 0.086 seconds ahead of Hamilton.

Lando Norris took fourth position for McLaren, securing his 2020 qualifying head-to-head against teammate Carlos Sainz, who finished sixth but will also start the race on the mediums.

Alex Albon split the McLarens in fifth, with Daniil Kvyat and Lance Stroll seventh and eighth.

Charles Leclerc qualified ninth but will shuffle back three places on the grid due to his Sakhir Grand Prix penalty for clashing with race winner Sergio Perez and Verstappen, but he at least got through Q2 on the mediums.

Pierre Gasly rounded out the top ten for Scuderia AlphaTauri.

Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo were eliminated at the end of Q2, with the former shuffled down by Albon’s late improvement.

Ricciardo did not have a time on the board ahead of his final Q2 lap after losing his first for running too wide at the exit of the last corner, but he went quicker in any case on his last lap, it just wasn’t fast enough to get him any higher than P12.

Sebastian Vettel’s final qualifying session for Ferrari ended with the four-time world champion out in P13 and eliminated in Q2 for the fourteenth time this season.

Antonio Giovinazzi finished P14, losing his last and best lap to track limits at Turn 21, the last corner, while Sergio Perez only appeared to register sector times during the mid-segment lull ahead of his back-of-the-grid start for taking a fresh engine in his Racing Point.

Perez ended the session in P15, but will drop back for the race following power unit changes.

In Q1, Kimi Raikkonen was eliminated by Giovinazzi, who had lost the time from his first run for going too wide out of the penultimate corner, improving from last to P15 on his last run.

This result settled the 2020 intra-Alfa Romeo qualifying battle in Giovinazzi’s favour, with Raikkonen failing to set a personal best time on his last run.

Behind them came Kevin Magnussen and Williams returnee George Russell, the pair improving on their last laps but unable to find a way out of Q1, with Russell unhappy with his tyre temperature.

Pietro Fittipaldi did not set a personal best on his last Q1 lap, nevertheless finishing P19 and ahead of Nicholas Latifi, who did not get to set a flying lap on his final run as he spun coming out of the final corner at the end of his warm-up lap.

So congratulations to Max Verstappen who finally records his first pole position this season. Saving the best till last for Max to grab P1 for Red Bull Racing.

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, qualifying positions:

1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:35.246
2 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:35.271
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.332
4 Lando Norris McLaren-Renault 1:35.497
5 Alex Albon Red Bull-Honda 1:35.571
6 Carlos Sainz Jr. McLaren-Renault 1:35.815
7 Daniil Kvyat AlphaTauri-Honda 1:35.963
8 Lance Stroll Racing Point-Mercedes 1:36.046
9 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:36.242
10 Esteban Ocon Renault 1:36.359
11 Daniel Ricciardo Renault 1:36.406
12 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:36.065
13 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:36.631
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:38.248
15 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:37.555
16 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:38.045
17 Pietro Fittipaldi Haas-Ferrari 1:38.173
18 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:38.443
19 Kevin Magnussen Haas-Ferrari 1:37.863
20 Sergio Perez Racing Point-Mercedes –