Max Verstappen found the time when he needed to secure pole position for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Saturday evening under the floodlights at the Yas Marina Circuit.
The Oracle Red Bull Racing driver is looking for a record-extending fifteenth victory of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season on Sunday, and he will be joined on the front row by team-mate Sergio Pérez, the Mexican looking to secure second place in the standings.
Both Scuderia Ferrari and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team did as much as they could during the hour-long Qualifying session but could only find themselves locking out rows two and three respectively.
Q1 – Brazil Polesitter Magnussen Eliminated
What a difference a week makes for Kevin Magnussen, with the Danish driver finding himself on the wrong side of the cut-off point to advance out of Q1 in Abu Dhabi, the Haas F1 Team driver having taken his maiden pole position in São Paulo last weekend.
A late flying lap from his team-mate Mick Schumacher relegated him into the bottom five, while Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly also struggled, the Frenchman finishing seventeenth in his final outing for the team before he moves to the BWT Alpine F1 Team in 2023.
Valtteri Bottas was unable to get the tyre temperature needed on his out lap ahead of his final attempt to get through, with the Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN driver losing time in the first sector as a result of finding traffic when he least needed it.
At the bottom of the pack were the two Williams Racing drivers, Alexander Albon qualifying ahead of Nicholas Latifi, the Canadian ending his final race in Formula 1 at the back of the field.
Verstappen ended the opening session with the fastest time ahead of team-mate Pérez.
Q2 – Alonso Shuffled Out at the Death
For much of the weekend so far, it looked as though Alpine had good pace to get through to Q3 with both cars, but when it truly mattered, Fernando Alonso, on his last outing with the team before his move to the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team in 2023, was eliminated in eleventh by just 0.028 seconds.
Lando Norris was the one to push him out just as the session concluded, the British racer jumping up to sixth at the expense of the veteran Spaniard.
Also on the wrong side of the cut off mark was AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda in twelfth, the Japanese racer losing time due to a lock up at turn six, while Schumacher’s final Qualifying session for Haas ended with him down in thirteenth.
Lance Stroll was only fourteenth for Aston Martin, while Zhou Guanyu was the slowest of the fifteen drivers in Q2 for Alfa Romeo.
Pérez was quickest in the second segment of the Qualifying hour, the Mexican edging out Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc by just under a tenth of a second.
Q3 – Verstappen Storms to Pole Position
The first runs in Q3 saw Verstappen hit the front with a stunning lap of 1:23.988, the first driver all weekend to get under the eighty-four second mark, while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. went second ahead of Pérez, the Mexican being late out of the pits for his first run due to a small issue.
However, Verstappen left his best to last to lower the benchmark even lower, his 1:23.824, while Pérez moved up to join his Red Bull team-mate on the front row, albeit more than two-tenths of a second back of the World Champion.
Ferrari gave it their all to lock out the second row, Leclerc ahead of Sainz, while Mercedes will line-up on row three, Lewis Hamilton ahead of last weekend’s race winner George Russell.
Norris was best of the rest for the McLaren F1 Team in seventh ahead of Alpine’s Esteban Ocon, while Sebastian Vettel, on his final Qualifying session before he retires, will start ninth on the grid ahead of another driver dropping off the grid next season, Daniel Ricciardo.