Verstappen Pleased after ‘almost perfect qualifying’ in Abu Dhabi Sees Front Row Lock Out for Red Bull

Max Verstappen said it was an ‘almost perfect’ Qualifying session for Oracle Red Bull Racing at the Yas Marina Circuit, with the Dutchman claiming pole position just ahead of team-mate Sergio Pérez.

The Dutchman, who clinched his second World Drivers’ Championship earlier this year after a dominant 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season that has seen him take a record-breaking fourteen victories in the opening twenty-one races, and he will be looking for number fifteen on Sunday.

However, he says it is important the team finish first and second in the Drivers’ Championship, with Pérez and Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc locked together heading into Sunday’s season finale.

“It couldn’t have been better today, the tow worked out well as we managed to lock out the front row,” said Verstappen.  “We went out there and did our thing.

“As a Team we had an almost perfect qualifying and we are very excited for tomorrow, The most important thing is that Checo stays ahead of Charles so we’ll do what we can to make that happen.”

Verstappen feels Red Bull’s RB18 appears to be quick over long runs as well as in Qualifying trim, but he does not know how they will compare to their direct rivals at Ferrari and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.

“I do think that our car is quick, there’s a massive question mark around the other teams though and how much long run performance they will have gained overnight,” the Dutchman added.

“We made a few mistakes in Brazil I guess but we learn from that and we are back where we should be.”

“It is a great Team result” – Sergio Pérez

Team-mate Pérez believed he was in with a chance of taking pole position himself in Abu Dhabi, only for a small problem during Q3 to put him on the back foot.

Ultimately, the pace Pérez felt he could have had was not there and he was forced to accept second on the grid, although he was pleased with the teamwork that he and Verstappen were able to do during Qualifying that included tows down the long straights.

“It is a great Team result for everyone back home and here in Abu Dhabi, we are in the best position to finish off the job and get that result tomorrow,” said Pérez.  “It certainly was good teamwork with Max today, it was important to get both cars as high up as possible for the race.

“My Q1 and Q2 were looking strong, and I was hoping for more, but then Q3 wasn’t ideal, especially our first run. That put us on the back foot a little and in the end, it wasn’t good enough for P1.”

Pérez says the hard work still needs to happen on Sunday as he bids to end the year in a career-high second in the Championship and staying ahead of Leclerc is imperative for this to happen.

“We have a very long race ahead of us, so we need to finish the job off tomorrow and deliver a massive result for the Team,” Pérez added.  “It will be important to get off the line well and get a strong start to get away from Charles.

“We are certainly confident going into tomorrow that our race pace is good and we can race harder. We are a lot happier with performance than we were in Brazil.

“It would be a huge year for us if we are able to get second place in the Drivers’ Championship and make history for the Team. We will work hard and hopefully we can succeed.”

Sergio Pérez will start on the front row on Sunday – Credit: Dan Istitene/Getty Images