F1: Verstappen gets pole at crunch time in Abu Dhabi.

F1, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021: Max Verstappen

F1, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021: Mercedes despite starting strong in the first qualifying, fail to match a dream lap by Max Verstappen(1:22.109) in the third qualifying. Eventually handing Redbull pole position to start the race at Abu Dhabi.

Although it is an advantage for Redbull Driver, Max Verstappen, with his 10th pole of the season, he will start the race on a softer compound. His rival Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will be starting the race on Medium compound which will give them a chance to run deep in the race.

The gamble that Redbull has taken will pay off or not will be seen in the race. They have two cars in the top four while Bottas will be starting the race P6 on the Grid.

F1, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021: Kimi Raikkonen.
Kimi Raikkonen.

Q1: F1, Kimi doesn’t find pace in his last qualifying.

It was Redbull who went out first but failed to overcome the Silver Arrow challenge. The times were pretty much set by the Mercedes with Lewis and Bottas slotting first and second. While Title rival Max Verstappen was 0.414s behind in the third.

At the halfway mark, the session was red-flagged after a Haas car went over a bollard which stayed on the track for a while. Sebastian Vettel complained about traffic pretty much the entire afternoon. It was Esteban Ocon who first got in his way as the Aston Martin driver was on the verge of a knockout.

The Williams duo could not ramp up their timings. They were joined by Kimi Raikkonen who was playing his final qualifying and will be starting from the 18th place. While the Haas pair completed the knockout list.

Vettel eventually made it through to Q2 and it was a good sign for him and Aston Martin.

F1, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021: Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

Q2: F1, Stretagy differs but result stays the same.

Medium tyres were the choice for most of the drivers. However, it was a close battle for the first place as Max Verstappen was only 0.004s behind Lewis Hamilton. The medium was the tyre to go at the start of the race.

However, a lock-up on Turn 1 gave a flat spot to Verstappen’s tyres and they were forced to pit. The time was not their friend and they choose to change the plan and soft tyres were installed. Red Bull boss Christian Horner told Sky “that lock-up wasn’t ideal, so it sort of forced our hands”.

Verstappen promptly went fastest, with teammate Perez – also running the softs – slotting into second. Hamilton was third with Bottas sixth – both on mediums – as they were separated by the Ferrari duo of Sainz and Leclerc.

It came as a surprise when Pierre Gasly made an exit failed to qualify for Q3. Along with him, the Aston Martin duo of Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel both were in the knockout zone.

Along with that Fernando Alonso was 11th while Giovinazzi was 14th ending the session.

F1, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021: Redbull driver Max Verstappen.
Redbull driver Max Verstappen.

Q3: Redbull doing everything for Max to win F1 championship.

Max Verstappen was flying in his first Lap of the third Qualifying. Redbull worked out a strategy that helped Verstappen gain around 0.1s from Sergio Perez’s tow. Mercedes couldn’t match this time and Lewis had to settle for the second spot at the grid.

It was the first time since Austin that both Lewis and Max are in the front row. The McLaren driver, Lando Norris, on his last Lap earned his best start since the Sochi pole with the third position on the race grid.

Perez putting two Red Bulls in the top-four at Yas Marina for the first time in the turbo-hybrid era. Carlos Sainz was fifth while Bottas was sixth securing his worst start since Russia.

F1, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2021: Max Verstappen.
Max Verstappen.

Tsunoda recovered from having his first lap deleted to take eighth, as he out-qualified teammate Gasly for the first time in a conventional session to end the year with six Q3 appearances in the final seven races. Tsunoda will also start the race on mediums, having gone through Q2 on that tyre.

Ocon was ninth, securing the qualifying head-to-head with teammate Fernando Alonso 12-10, with Ricciardo outperformed by Norris for the fourth race in succession.

F1, Abu Dhabi 2021, Qualifying highlights.