Max Verstappen led a Red Bull one-two under the lights to secure pole position for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he bids to win his 15th race of 2022.
The Dutchman trailed his teammate in the final practice session but turned the tables when it mattered, setting a benchmark of 1:23.824 that was good enough to eclipse Sergio Perez by more than two tenths of a second.
“It was a bit of an up-and-down qualifying,” Verstappen said. “It started off quite well but then Q2 was a little messy. I don’t know why but I just couldn’t get the grip together.
“Then in Q3 it felt a bit more normal and we had a bit of a scare at the end when the car turned off before the first run.
“We had to reboot everything and then we went out and fortunate the laps were good enough.
“Very pleased for that but also very happy that both cars are on the front row. We want to win the race but we also want to finish second with Checo in the championship, so that’s definitely a great start for tomorrow.
“Today was amazing but I still expect it to be a good battle tomorrow. At least we have both cars there so we can do what we want.”
Behind, Ferrari came from relative obscurity to join the fight for pole in Q3, securing third and fourth, with Charles Leclerc leading the Maranello charge from Carlos Sainz.
Mercedes started the weekend well but found themselves well off the pace in qualifying at a track Toto Wolff admitted was on included on the team’s “table of doom.” Lewis Hamilton and George Russell were separated be just three thousandths of a second, nearly seven tenths behind Verstappen.
Outside of the top six, Lando Norris finished as the best of the rest in seventh as McLaren look to pull off an unlikely combeack to take fourth in the Constructors’ Championship.
Esteban Ocon scraped through to Q3 and sealed an impressive eighth, ahead of Sebastian Vettel in ninth in his final qualifying session, with Daniel Ricciardo completing the top 10.
Advantage Perez in battle for second
After the drama of the Brazilian Grand Prix, all eyes will be on the fight for second in the Drivers’ Championship during Sunday’s race.
It’s certainly advantage Perez, who lines up ahead of Leclerc and has, on paper, what looks like the fastest car this weekend.
Yas Marina is quite a power hungry circuit, which plays into the RB18’s strengths, and the Mexican appears to have tailored his set-up to use that to his benefit, running quite a skinny rear wing to maximise his straight-line speed.
He also has the benefit of his teammate in front of him, who will surely want to avoid a repeat of the controversy he sparked at Interlagoes when he refused team orders to swap positions on the last lap.
However, although Ferrari are notoriously better in qualifying trim, they will be buoyed by their late Saturday surge and will be desperate to finish what has been a frustrating campaign on a high. It’s all to play for.
Abu Dhabi GP Qualifying Results
|1||Max Verstappen||Red Bull|
|2||Sergio Perez||Red Bull|
|9||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin|
|14||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin|
|15||Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo|
|18||Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo|