Catch me if you can, Lewis! Max Verstappen’s turbocharged engine screams past bitter rival Hamilton, securing pole ahead of Hamilton in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen grabbed a shock pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – positioning himself perfectly to wreck Lewis Hamilton’s drive for an eighth world title.

The Dutchman did a magnificent lap on the Yas Marina circuit’s remodelled Yas Marina track. He was able to get to the front without any obstructions, even though there was a brief suspension for clearing a bollard.

Verstappen starts on the soft, faster tyre while Hamilton is on the mediums. This championship is fiercely contested and strategy could have an impact on its outcome.

Max Verstappen celebrates taking a surprise pole position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Max Verstappen takes a surprising pole position at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

The Red Bull driver (above) was over three tenths quicker than his title rival Lewis Hamilton

Red Bull driver Lewis Hamilton was almost three tenths slower than Red Bull.

Verstappen’s killer lap came out of nowhere. Verstappen was able to get a helper from Sergio Perez (Red Bull team-mate), to make his lap more than half an second faster than Hamilton. Hamilton came in second with 0.371sec.

It was a surprise, but the scene has dramatically changed in the title race joust. McLaren Lando Norris qualified unexpectedly third.

Simple title mathematics. Hamilton will win the title by finishing ahead of Verstappen while still being in the top 10.

Hamilton had to settle for second on the grid ahead of the season finale at Yas Marina

Hamilton was forced to accept second place on the grid in Yas Marina’s season finale

Hamilton will start alongside his chief title rival on the front row of the grid on Sunday

Hamilton will be starting alongside his chief title challenger on Sunday’s front row.

Hamilton gives the thumbs up to the crowd following Saturday's qualifying session

Hamilton waves to Saturday’s crowd after the qualifying session



1 Verstappen (Hol) Red Bull 1:22.109

2 Hamilton (Gbr Mercedes: 1:22.480

3 Norris McLaren (Gbr), 1:22.931

4 Perez (Mex) Red Bull 1:22.947

5 Sainz (Spa) Ferrari 1:22.992

6 Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:23.036

7 Leclerc (Mon) Ferrari 1:23.122

8 Tsunoda (Jpn) AlphaTauri 1:23.220

9 Ocon (Fra) Alpine 1:23.389

10 Ricciardo (Aus) McLaren 1:23.409 


Alpine 1:13.460 – 11 Alonso

12 Gasly (Fra), AlphaTauri 1:24.043

13 Stroll, (Can) Aston Martin 1:466

14 Giovinazzi (Ita) Alfa Romeo 1:24.251

15 Vettel, (Ger) Aston Martin 2:43.05


16 Latifi (Can) Williams 1:24.338

17 Russell (Gbr. Williams 1:24.423

18 Raikkonen (Fin) A. Romeo 1:24.779

19 Schumacher (Ger), Haas: 1:24.906

20 Mazepin (Raf) Haas 1:25.685 

Hamilton and Verstappen are locked level on points but the Dutchman leads 9-8 in terms of wins – enough to give Verstappen his maiden title if neither of them finishes the race.

Verstappen was four-tenths faster than Hamilton in Q1. However, the roles were reversed in Q2, as Verstappen was fastest on medium tyres. He had switched to soft tires after declaring he had a huge flat spot.

‘The lock-up wasn’t ideal so it kind of forced our hand,’ said Red Bull boss Christian Horner. ‘We were 50-50 going into that session, it forced our hand, and the soft is going to be a different tyre to Mercedes tomorrow.

Britain's Lando Norris (right) took a shock third place for McLaren as stands beside Verstappen

McLaren’s shock third-place finish behind Verstappen was Lando Norris from Britain (right).

The stands were largely dominated by Dutch Verstappen fans dressed in orange

Dutch Verstappen supporters in orange dominated the stands.

‘So we’ll see how it plays out.’

Mick Schumacher threw a bollard at the corner’s end, which promoted the red-flag suspension.

George Russell was beaten in qualifying for the first time in his Williams career – a remarkable run – with Nicholas Latifi a place ahead of the Englishman in 16th.

Hamilton must beat Verstappen and score points to win the world title for a record eighth time

To win the record-breaking eighth world title, Hamilton has to beat Verstappen.

The Mercedes driver also had his section of supporters at the Yas Marina Circuit

He was joined by his supporters at Yas Marina Circuit.