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Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Qualifying Results

The final Qualifying session takes place...

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Max Verstappen topped the timesheets and took pole position for the final race of the 2023 season.

Verstappen takes pole in Abu Dhabi. Photo credits:Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP via Getty Images
Verstappen takes pole in Abu Dhabi. Photo credits:Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP via Getty Images

As the sun starts to set, the final Qualifying session of the 2023 season takes place on the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi. After 23 race weekends this year, the finale sees Mercedes and Ferrari battle it out for 2nd in the Constructors with only four points separating the teams.

Taking a look at the weekend so far, FP2 saw a red-flagged filled session with Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg ending their practice early. The first incident took place eight minutes into the session. Sainz who claimed the crash occurred due to dirty air, bottomed out and took a big hit on the Turn 3 barriers.

When the green light finally showed again, over half the session was already gone. Drivers were eager to get some practice time under their belt after FP1 was filled with a variety of rookies from F2, Indy Car and Formula E.

However, the HAAS of Hulkenberg took a spin on Turn 1 bringing out a second red flag.

When the session finally restarted, Charles Leclerc was the one to top the timing sheets with a 1.24.809. Lando Norris and Max Verstappen rounded out the top three for FP2.

Saturday morning saw the final FP3 session of the year. Compared to the chaotic session on Friday evening, this hour went by smoothly with the drivers on their best behaviours. George Russell was the driver to take the quickest time this session with both of the McLaren’s following suit.

With the weekend so far rounded up, who took pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix? Let’s find out how it all unfolded.

Q1

The lights on the track started to illuminate with the dark evening starting to settle in.

Esteban Ocon was first to hit the track with the other cars quickly following suit.

The grid started to put out their first fastest laps on the charts. Verstappen took the first fastest lap with a 1:24.160.

Lando Norris wasn’t far behind the Dutchman, sitting behind the Red Bull by just two tenths of a second.

After his big shunt yesterday, Sainz was looking to bounce back and finish the year on a high. His first time on the board put him in sixth position, just a couple of tenths behind his teammate who sat in third.

Zhou was hit with a track infringement warning and lost his time, putting him down into the firing zone. The Alfa Romeo driver wasn’t the only driver to sit without a time on the board with only seven minutes remaining, Sargeant and Hulkenberg were also in the same boat.

As Sargeant took to the track, the American set the fastest sector one. As the Williams crossed his line, Sargeant shot up to fourth place, however, track infringements seemed to hinder the driver once again and his time was deleted.

Sargeant headed back into the pits and was out of Qualifying. He will start in 20th place, behind Zhou in 19th who also didn’t set a time.

The other Williams, however, was sitting in third place by just one tenth of a second behind Verstappen. Albon has become the first driver since 2020 to out-qualified his teammate at every race.

As the chequered flag hit. Carlos Sainz crossed the line only in fifteenth place. The Ferrari was sitting on the line awaiting for Perez’s time to come through. As the Red Bull shot up to 2nd place, the Spaniard was knocked out. A tough start to the weekend for Sainz continues.

Eliminated

16. Sainz

17. Magnussen

18. Bottas

19. Zhou

20. Sargeant

Q2

The drivers all took quickly to the track. Verstappen came out on new times whilst everyone else stayed on their used.

Albon was setting the fastest sector 2 and 3. His first push lap was a 1:24.965 on used tyres, the Williams was impressing around the Yas Marina circuit.

The new tyres were already an advantage for Verstappen who entered the 1:23s. After a tough couple of weekends for Mercedes, Russell sat in seconds, seven tenths behind Verstappen.

Norris – with used tyres – split the Red Bulls up at the front. The pace of the McLaren in the second stint of the season has been Verstappen’s closest contender. The Woking team will be looking to finish their season on a high after an impressive comeback from a disadvantage start to the season.

As the final minute of Q2 dawned on the grid. All but Verstappen and Albon took to the track in hopes to secure their place in the Q3 deciding round.

Albon who decided not to come out was now at risk, as drivers in the elimination zone were putting in faster laps. The Qualifying session was over for the British team, Albon will start in 14th place.

Both Mercedes were battling to get out of the firing zone and as Hamilton crossed the line just above the red zone, Russell knocked his teammate out. The seven-time World Champion was eight one hundredths of a second behind 10th position. This is the second week in a row that the Brit has failed to make it to Q3.

Sainz and Hamilton dropping out early will make the battle for 2nd even more interesting on Sunday evening.

However, Hulkenberg on the other hand was through to Q3 for the first time since Singapore.

Eliminated

11. Hamilton

12. Ocon

13. Stroll

14. Albon

15. Ricciardo

Q3

With 11 minutes on the clock, the deciding round of Qualifying was underway.

Verstappen put the first time on the board, which saw him first. However, Norris and Alonso were starting to match Verstappen’s sector 1 time.

As the Dutchman crossed the line with a 1:23.445, Norris crossed only three tenths of a second behind the Red Bull, still on used tyres. The other McLaren, placed third.

Charles Leclerc, who has had the second most pole positions this season, could only put it in ninth on his first flying lap. The last standing Ferrari driver was a second of first place, which is worrying for the Italian team in pursuit of second.

Four minutes on the clock was left, the front three started their out laps with McLaren looking to press on Verstappen and taking pole position.

Norris was starting an incredible push lap, with the fastest sector one, however in the final sector saw him pay a price for slightly going wide. The Brit starts in fifth place.

Leclerc bounced back after a slow Q2 lap. The Ferrari driver shot up to second, snatching the place out of Piastri’s hands – just one tenth of a second behind Verstappen.

Russell who is challenging Ferrari was pushing to get higher than Leclerc, however, as he passed the line, the best he could do was fourth. Perez went fifth quickest. However, had his time deleted due to track infringements, meaning the Mexican dropped down to 9th position.

Verstappen was once again untouchable in Qualifying, taking pole position for the 12th time this season with a 1:23.445.

The top 10

1. Verstappen

2. Leclerc

3. Piastri

4. Russell

5. Norris

6. Tsunoda

7. Alonso

8. Hulkenberg

9. Perez

10. Gasly

Featured image credits:Photo by Jewel SAMAD / AFP via Getty Images

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