Advantage Verstappen heading into the title decider

December 11, 2021

Verstappen takes second consecutive pole at the Yas Marina Circuit


Max Verstappen took pole at the season finale at Abu Dhabi edging out his championship rival Lewis Hamilton by three tenths to gain a crucial advantage heading into the championship decider on Sunday. Verstappen though will start the race of the soft compound tyres compared to Hamilton’s mediums. McLaren’s Lando Norris starts a brilliant P3 ahead of Sergio Pérez while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz starts fifth ahead of the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas. Charles Leclerc managed seventh with Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo rounding up the top ten.

Heading into Sunday’s race, it definitely is advantage Verstappen but with Hamilton starting right behind and on a different set of tyres, the Dutchman knows the Brit will be breathing down his neck off the line.

After failing short in the final two practice sessions where Hamilton was comfortably on top, Verstappen has shown that the Red Bull has significant speed and something he will hope more for on Sunday. As we inch closer to not only the season finale but the season’s most important race, Verstappen seems to have the upper hand but with seven championship titles and 103 wins under his belt, Hamilton knows how to bring out his best when his back is against the wall.


Qualifying Session 1 – Eliminated – Nicholas Latifi, George Russell, Kimi Räikkönen, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel was the first car leaving the pit lane to kick off the final qualifying session of the season. It was the championship leader though, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen who got the first competitive time of the session, going P1 with a 1:23.680s a good two tenths ahead of AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in second spot.

Verstappen though was easily displaced by his champions rival Lewis Hamilton, with the Brit going four tenths quicker than the Dutchman. Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas slotted behind the seven time champion in second place, a tenth down on the Brit. The session was red flagged momentarily as Mick Schumacher’s Haas clipper a bollard on the track and putting the broken piece right on the racing line. Racing resumed within minutes with just over five minutes to go. The bottom five heading into the final runs, consisted of the Haas duo, Nicholas Latifi, Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel and it was only the German world champion who managed to get out of Q1 at the cost of George Russell. Kimi Räikkönen who would be retiring at the end of the season, failed to make it to Q2 in his final race.


Qualifying Session 2 – Eliminated – Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll, Antonio Giovinazzi and Sebastian Vettel

Lewis Hamilton got the session underway and set a time of 1:23.185s just four one-thousandths ahead of Verstappen in second place with Bottas close behind in third place, six hundreths down on the Dutchman.

The Ferrari of Carlos Sainz pipped Hamilton for P1 though with a 1:23.174s. As the chequered flag fell, it was Fernando Alonso, Pierre Gasly, Lance Stroll, Antonio Giovinazzi and Sebastian Vettel who failed to make it to the season’s final top ten shootout.


Top ten shootout – Verstappen draws first blood

Max Verstappen got the final qualifying session underway and was straight on the pace with a 1:22.109s, half a second quicker than Hamilton in P2, which meant the Dutchman had provisional pole.

Hamilton’s final lap wasn’t good enough to dislodge Verstappen from pole as the Dutchman took the advantage going into the season’s most important race. Lando Norris managed to pip Sergio Pérez for P3 while Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas could only manage P6.


Final Starting Grid

Max Verstappen
Lewis Hamilton
Lando Norris
Sergio Pérez
Carlos Sainz
Valtteri Bottas
Charles Leclerc
Yuki Tsunoda
Esteban Ocon
Daniel Ricciardo
Fernando Alonso
Pierre Gasly
Lance Stroll
Antonio Giovinazzi
Sebastian Vettel
Nicholas Latifi
George Russell
Kimi Räikkönen
Mick Schumacher
Nikita Mazepin

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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