Verstappen on pole position for season finale

The three-time champion will be at the front of the grid for the last race of 2023

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 25: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 25, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202311250300 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen will start the final race of the 2023 Formula 1 season from pole position after setting the pace in qualifying at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc joins the three-time champion on the front row, with McLaren’s Oscar Piastri completing the top three.

As the track temperatures fell early in qualifying, the best of the times in Q1 came right at the end of the session.

Logan Sargeant briefly looked set for an appearance in Q2 after posting the fourth best time, but a track limits infringement saw him dropped to the back of the field.

With the majority of the drivers on track in the final seconds, Carlos Sainz complained of traffic costing him a clear run, as the Ferrari driver found himself in the bottom five.

Lewis Hamilton suffered a surprise exit in Q2, as the seven-time champion reported issues with his Mercedes.

As the top 10 headed back out onto the track to fight for pole, it looked like the McLarens would be Verstappen’s main challengers for pole, but Lando Norris couldn’t get a clean lap together, while Leclerc found surprising pace in the Ferrari to beat Piastri to the front row.

George Russell had looked strong throughout practice, but the one-lap pace in the Mercedes wasn’t there to challenge for the front row, while Sergio Perez lost his best time of the session due to a track limits issue.

Provisional qualifying result:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

3. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

4. George Russell (Mercedes)

5. Lando Norris (McLaren)

6. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

7. Fernando Alonso (Aston Martin)

8. Nico Hulkenberg (Haas)

9. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

10. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

11. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

12. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

13. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

14. Alex Albon (Williams)

15. Daniel Ricciardo (AlphaTauri)

16. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

17. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

18. Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo)

19. Guanyu Zhou (Alfa Romeo)

20. Logan Sargeant (Williams)

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