Max Verstappen beats Lewis Hamilton to pole ahead of Formula One title showdown

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Max Verstappen beats Lewis Hamilton to pole ahead of Formula One title showdown

Max Verstappen beat title rival Lewis Hamilton to pole position ahead of their winner-takes-all showdown at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

It put Verstappen in the perfect position to claim his first Formula One title. He and Hamilton are level on points entering Sunday’s race, meaning whoever finishes ahead of the other will claim the title in nearly all scenarios. In terms of points positions, if Hamilton is ninth and Verstappen is 10th and scores the bonus point for fastest lap, Verstappen wins the title. 

If neither finishes the race, Verstappen wins the title on a tiebreaker, having won more races this year. The pair have collided three times this season, and FIA race director Michael Masi has warned that an “unsportsmanlike” collision deciding the title could be met with a points deduction or race ban.

Hamilton and Mercedes appeared to have the edge on pace over practice, but Verstappen turned in two sublime laps in qualifying to comfortably lead.

His first lap, a 1:22.109, was handily quickest. Hamilton improved on his final attempt but was still 0.3s behind his title rival. 

It means the title rivals will share the front two spots on the grid for Sunday’s race. Verstappen will start on the ‘clean’ side of the grid, but Hamilton will have the inside line going down to Turn 1.

They will also start on different tyres, adding what could be a key variable into the mix for race strategy. 

F1’s rules dictate that drivers start on the tyres used to set their quickest lap in Q2. Hamilton used the more durable, but less grippy, medium tyre for his, while Verstappen set his using the less durable, but grippier, soft tyre. 

That should give Verstappen the quicker getaway at the first corner, but the strategy could come back to Hamilton as the race unfolds. Hamilton should be able to extend his first stint much longer than Verstappen. 

McLaren’s Lando Norris qualified third, joking after the session that he was “nervous” about being behind the two title contenders and being in two minds whether to overtake one of them at the start. 

Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez, was fourth ahead of Carlos Sainz. Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, qualified sixth. 

Max Verstappen beat title rival Lewis Hamilton to pole position ahead of their winner-takes-all showdown at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

It put Verstappen in the perfect position to claim his first Formula One title. He and Hamilton are level on points entering Sunday’s race, meaning whoever finishes ahead of the other will claim the title in nearly all scenarios. In terms of points positions, if Hamilton is ninth and Verstappen is 10th and scores the bonus point for fastest lap, Verstappen wins the title. If neither finishes the race, Verstappen wins the title on a tiebreaker, having won more races this year. The pair have collided three times this season, and FIA race director Michael Masi has warned that an “unsportsmanlike” collision deciding the title could be met with a points deduction or race ban.

Hamilton and Mercedes appeared to have the edge on pace over practice, but Verstappen turned in two sublime laps in qualifying to comfortably lead.

His first lap, a 1:22.109, was handily quickest. Hamilton improved on his final attempt but was still 0.3s behind his title rival. 

It means the title rivals will share the front two spots on the grid for Sunday’s race. Verstappen will start on the ‘clean’ side of the grid, but Hamilton will have the inside line going down to Turn 1.

They will also start on different tyres, adding what could be a key variable into the mix for race strategy. 

F1’s rules dictate that drivers start on the tyres used to set their quickest lap in Q2. Hamilton used the more durable, but less grippy, medium tyre for his, while Verstappen set his using the less durable, but grippier, soft tyre. 

That should give Verstappen the quicker getaway at the first corner, but the strategy could come back to Hamilton as the race unfolds. Hamilton should be able to extend his first stint much longer than Verstappen. 

McLaren’s Lando Norris qualified third, joking after the session that he was “nervous” about being behind the two title contenders and being in two minds whether to overtake one of them at the start. 

Verstappen’s teammate, Sergio Perez, was fourth ahead of Carlos Sainz. Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, qualified sixth. 

Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen, who is set to retire from F1, qualified 18th for his 349th and final grand prix. Raikkonen has started more F1 races than any other driver.