Verstappen on pole position for title decider

Title rivals line up alongside each other on front row for final race of the season

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 11: Sparks fly behind Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing RB16B Honda during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on December 11, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202112110228 // Usage for editorial use only //

Max Verstappen will start the title deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from pole position alongside rival Lewis Hamilton.

The Red Bull driver used a toe from teammate Sergio Perez to gain an advantage over the reigning champion, who was unable to better the Dutchman’s lap time.

The first part of qualifying had to be red flagged with just over six minutes remaining when Mick Schumacher struck a camera bollard, leaving it on the track, before Lando Norris collected the debris and left it on the racing line.

Once the track was clear, Sebastian Vettel voiced his frustration over the radio after getting stuck behind Esteban Ocon, with the stewards to investigate whether the Alpine driver blocked the four-time champion after the session.

On his final outing with the team, George Russell was outqualified by his Williams teammate for just the second time, with Nicholas Latifi narrowly missing out on a spot in Q2.

A lockup from Verstappen in the second part of qualifying forced him to switch onto the soft tyres, meaning he’ll start tomorrow’s race on the quicker but less durable tyre, while Hamilton is set to start on the mediums.

Norris completed the top three in qualifying, and will be joined by Perez on the second row. Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, couldn’t find a fast lap time late on, and will start down in sixth.

Provisional qualifying result:

1 Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

3. Lando Norris (McLaren)

4. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

5. Carlos Sainz (McLaren)

6. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)

7. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

8. Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri)

9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

10. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren)

11. Fernando Alonso (Alpine)

12. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)

13. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin)

14. Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo)

15. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin)

16. Nicholas Latifi (Williams)

17. George Russell (Williams)

18. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)

19. Mick Schumacher (Haas)

20. Nikita Mazepin (Haas)

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