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 –

5 thoughts to “Verstappen snatches pole position from the Mercedes duo”

  1. Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by

    Max Verstappen delivered a magical lap in qualifying to snatch a shock pole position for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Red Bull driver getting the better of Mercedes for the first time in 2020 with the top three separated by just 0.086s…

    The Dutchman’s qualifying started badly as he flatspotted his first set of tyres and then struggled for performance in the first segment. But he got better and better as the session went on under the lights at Yas Martina to take the first non-Mercedes pole in Abu Dhabi since 2013.

    It ended Mercedes run of being one-two in every Q3 session at Abu Dhabi in the turbo hybrid era, Verstappen’s stunning middle sector making the difference to put him on P1 at a track where he has never led a lap in his Formula 1 career.

    Valtteri Bottas, who was told by team boss Toto Wolff on team radio “all you have Valtteri”, slotted into second, pipping his Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton, who was making his racing return after missing the last race having tested positive for Covid-19 in Bahrain.

    McLaren’s Lando Norris delivered one of the best laps of his career to go fourth quickest, just 0.25s off pole, with Red Bull’s Alex Albon having a smoother weekend to take fifth as he fights for his future at the team beyond the end of this season.

    Carlos Sainz was sixth, running an older engine than his McLaren team mate which it is believed is costing him around two tenths of a second per lap, ahead of AlphaTauri’s Daniil Kvyat, who continues his very strong end to a campaign which might be his last in F1.

    Lance Stroll was the best-placed Racing Point in eighth, with his team mate Sergio Perez starting from the back after a host of engine component changes – and that spices up the battle for P3 in the constructors’ championship as their lead over McLaren is just 10 points.

    Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and the other AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly rounded out the top 10 in 2020’s final qualifying session.

    Q1 – Hamilton sails to the top as Giovinazzi scrapes in

    Hamilton briefly went to the top of the times, only to have his lap time deleted after exceeding track limits at Turn 21. The Briton ran so wide, he clobbered the large sausage kerb with such a force, he asked his team to have a look at the floor to check for damage.

    He did a cool down lap and went again, but could only go eighth – having taken the best out of the tyres. So the Mercedes driver was forced to do a second run, and he promptly put the car quickest of all, ahead of Bottas and an impressive Leclerc, who was in turn 0.8s quicker than team mate Vettel.

    Max Verstappen headed out on a second set of tyres, too, after flat spotting his first set on exit from the garage as he braked heavily to avoid Nicholas Latifi leaving the Williams pit – but had no problem easing through.

    Antonio Giovinazzi was in the drop zone in the closing stages, but pumped in a lap that pushed his Alfa Romeo team mate Kimi Raikkonen out of qualifying, ensuring he ends the year leading the head-to-head with the Finn.

    Kevin Magnussen improved but it wasn’t enough to progress, and he was eliminated along with George Russell, Pietro Fittipaldi and Latifi, who spun late on to bring out the yellow flags briefly.

    Knocked out: Raikkonen, Magnussen, Russell, Fittipaldi, Latifi

    Q2 – Renault miss out, as Mercedes sparkle

    Mercedes continued their domination at Yas Marina, with Hamilton heading Bottas once more in Q2, with Verstappen having a cleaner run of things in this segment.

    The same could not be said of his Red Bull team mate Albon, who had his first lap time deleted for exceeding track limits, heaping the pressure on for the final run. This time, he got it altogether, and popped into fourth to ease through – though on the soft tyres rather than the medium.

    It was super close further down the timing charts, with Daniel Ricciardo having his first lap deleted and then setting a time that was only good enough for 11th. That became 12th when his Renault team mate bettered him by half a tenth of a second.

    Vettel said his pace was “copy -paste” of Q1, so it was unsurprising he was eliminated, with Giovinazzi joining the ‘lap time deleted’ club as he ended up 14th with Sergio Perez opting not to complete a lap to give him free tyre choice as he’ll be starting from the back of the pack after a series of engine component changes.

    Knocked out: Ocon, Ricciardo, Vettel, Giovinazzi, Perez

    Q3 – Verstappen shocks Mercedes with last gasp effort

    Bottas set the pace after the first runs, fending off Verstappen and Hamilton to take provisional pole – and even when Hamilton went faster second time around, Bottas was able to respond.

    However, he wasn’t counting on Verstappen going even quicker to snatch his first pole since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, sparking joyous scenes in the Red Bull garage.

    Hamilton starts off the front row in Abu Dhabi for only the second time in the history of the UAE race, with Norris’ fourth his best since the opening round in Austria, and the position ensured he beats Sainz 9-8 in the qualifying head-to-head.

    Albon got his seventh top-five start, ahead of Sainz in sixth with Kvyat getting his second successive top-seven start. Racing Point didn’t quite have the pace to fight P3 rivals McLaren with Stroll’s P8 only his second top-eight start in the last eight Grands Prix.

    Leclerc once again had the beating of Ferrari team mate Vettel, as he ended up a solid ninth, with Gasly completing the top 10 as AlphaTauri got both cars in Q3 for the fourth time in five races.

  2. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen explains how his hand got stuck in qualifying. has the details.

    Max Verstappen explained how his hand got stuck between the steering wheel and his knee during Formula 1 qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, ruining an early Q1 lap.

    Verstappen scored his third pole position in F1 in the final qualifying session of the 2020 season on Saturday at the Yas Marina circuit, edging out the Mercedes pair of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

    But Verstappen had a brief scare in Q1 when he ran wide at the Turn 6 hairpin and was left trying to catch the car with one hand after his left hand became stuck in the cockpit.

    He was quick to inform his Red Bull team of what caused the error, but safely made it through to the second stage of qualifying after calling it a “tricky” start.

    “It must have been something unfortunate,” Verstappen explained. “I got stuck, I think it was between the wheel and my knee. It never happened to me before.

    “I literally was steering towards the wall. It’s just an unfortunate action.”

    Verstappen did not feel fully confident during his medium tyre run in Q2, but was glad for how qualifying ended with his charge to pole position.

    It marked only the second non-Mercedes pole of the year, following Lance Stroll’s breakthrough for Racing Point in Turkey, and Verstappen’s first since last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

    “The whole year, we were closing in a little bit, and I missed out a few times,” Verstappen said.

    “But finally to at least sit here once after the dominance [Mercedes] had throughout the year is very nice for us and for the whole team as well.

    “It’s been a very long season in a short period of time, a lot of races. I think everyone, they want the break, but to have the pole position here is good motivation for everyone in the team to try and finish it off tomorrow.”

    Asked how confident he was of Red Bull’s race pace in Abu Dhabi, Verstappen felt unsure given the clouded picture from FP2 after a long red flag.

    “I will have a look at what we can do, but I think not a lot of people had a proper long run because of the red flag we had,” Verstappen said.

    “So it will be interesting tomorrow. I’ll do my best. It seems like our top speed this weekend is not too bad. That’s always nice.

    “For sure Valtteri and Lewis, they will be very close, and it will be a good battle hopefully.”

  3. The 2020 world champion Lewis Hamilton admitted that taking weeks off made him lose momentum in qualifying. has the news story.

    Lewis Hamilton has admitted he has faced a ‘difficult’ weekend so far on his Formula 1 return at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after only managing third in qualifying.

    The world champion had missed last weekend’s race in Bahrain after contracting coronavirus, but was given the all-clear ahead of the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi.

    After getting back up to speed on Friday, Hamilton took third place on the grid, behind pole position man Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

    And although he missed just one race, he says it has been hard to get fully back into the swing of things.

    “It’s definitely been a difficult weekend I would say, just getting back into rhythm,” he said. “Even though it’s only a couple weeks off, it just felt like you lost that momentum.

    “And I’ve really struggled so far already with the balance this weekend. But still I gave it my all.

    “And, you know, congratulations to Max, it’s great way for him to seal the year, a year of great performance. But we’re going to hopefully give them a good run for their money tomorrow.”

    Hamilton ended up just 0.086 seconds behind teammate Bottas in which was a super tight battle for the top grid positions.

    Bottas felt that Mercedes had never really got on top of the soft tyres all weekend, and that the track went away from them as the session went on.

    “We saw in practice three that Red Bull and especially Max was pretty quick,” said the Finn. “I think the main issue was we couldn’t really get the soft tyres to work properly as they should, so all the way until qualifying the medium tyre was feeling better for us than the soft.

    “Towards the end of qualifying I started to struggle a bit more with the front end of the car, maybe with the track temp cooling down.

    “So then it made it difficult to improve more, because I thought it should have been quite a bit quicker than the earlier sessions. But, obviously, I think Red Bull managed to optimise everything for the last part of the qualifying which matters.”

  4. Lewis Hamilton says he feels “not 100%” upon his return to Formula 1 action in Abu Dhabi after being “bed-ridden” by COVID-19 last week.

    Seven-time world champion Hamilton was forced to miss last Sunday’s Sakhir Grand Prix after testing positive for COVID-19, but recovered from the virus in time to return for Abu Dhabi practice on Friday.

    The Mercedes driver qualified third for the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit, finishing behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen and Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

    Hamilton said he was “grateful to be back” in the Mercedes W11 F1 car, but said he was “not 100%”.

    “I can really feel for those who have suffered from it, those that have lost ones from it, and can understand how because it’s a nasty virus,” Hamilton said.

    “I’m not 100%. I still have some feeling within my lungs.

    “But nonetheless, normally I would drive even if one of my arms is hanging off. That’s what we do as racing drivers. Luckily that’s not the case.

    “It definitely won’t be the easiest of races, physically, but I will manage and give it absolutely everything I’ve got.”

    Hamilton was forced to complete 10 days of self-isolation in Bahrain after his positive test, and said he was “bed-ridden” for most of the week.

    He explained how he felt a lack of energy compared to normal, and revealed he had lost weight as a result of the virus.

    “It’s overall energy,” Hamilton said. “One of the symptoms is that it really drains you. I’m trying to sleep as much as I can, but recharging is not as easy as perhaps it normally has been in the past, plus [I lost] a good amount of weight, just in that week.

    “As I said, not [feeling] 100% the same as I was the last time I raced.

    “But it’s by no means going to get in the way of me going out and giving my all tomorrow.”

    Hamilton missed out on pole position by 0.086 seconds, but felt the damage picked up to his floor after running wide over the kerb at Turn 20 in Q1 was not enough to have changed the result.

    “It did have a little bit of damage,” Hamilton said.

    “It’s the first time I’ve gone wide there all weekend, so just a little bit of damage to the floor.

    “I don’t think if that hadn’t been damaged then I would have got pole. I’m sure it doesn’t help, but nonetheless the guys did a great job to try and patch it up. They’ll fix it overnight.”


  5. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was left feeling “disappointed” after failing to replicate Q1 pace. provides the story.

    Charles Leclerc was “disappointed” to finish qualifying for Formula 1’s 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in ninth, after the Ferrari driver had set the third fastest time in Q1.

    Leclerc, who also went into qualifying at the Yas Marina track with a three-place grid penalty hanging over his result thanks to his clash with Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen on the first lap of last weekend’s Sakhir GP, failed to recreate his best laps from Q1 and Q2 in the top 10 shootout.

    The Monegasque driver did manage to get through on the advantageous medium tyres in Q2, but could not recreate his form on the softs in Q1 – where he was only behind the Mercedes duo, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and ahead of eventual pole-winner, Verstappen.

    When asked how vital it had been to progress through to Q3 on the mediums, which were lasting much longer than the red-walled softs on long runs in practice for the Abu Dhabi race, Leclerc told that “it was important” before offering his thoughts on his Q3 form.

    “I’m a bit disappointed because I wished we could do something more in Q3, which we didn’t,” he continued, after going 0.184s slower in the final segment than he had in Q1.

    “We struggled a lot more in Q3 with tyre temperatures for some reason. So, we need to understand that, but happy to have gone through to Q3 with the medium.”

    Leclerc explained that the problem was down to “keeping [the tyres] cool towards the end of the lap”.

    He added: “We were struggling with overheating in the last sector and that made us lose quite a bit of laptime.”

    Leclerc’s penalty means he will line up for the final race of the 2020 season in P12 on the grid, behind Renault duo Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo, who were eliminated in the middle phase of qualifying and are free to pick their starting race rubber.

    “I don’t think it’s that bad at the end [to be starting behind the Renaults], because we would have chosen medium if we had free choice,” said Leclerc.

    “So, luckily, we did a good job in Q2, which helps us to start on our preferred tyre.

    “It would have been a lot more difficult [on be starting the softs] because… well, I could have had an advantage for two laps.

    “But after that we all know that they are dropping quite a lot [with degradation].”

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