Front row for Max Verstappen in Abu Dhabi: 'The best we could do'

Published on 30 November 2019 by Mike Motilall

Max Verstappen will be starting the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the front row. On the Yas Marina Circuit, Verstappen qualified third fastest, behind the Mercedes' of Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. However, the Finn has been given a grid penalty, due to an engine change, and will be starting the race from the back of the grid. Because of that, Max moves up to Bottas’ spot which is P2 in the final race of the season.

“This was the best we could do today”, says Max after qualifying. “I think we all know that Mercedes is quite dominant here, so overall I am pretty happy. It is still good to start on the front row. Of course I would have liked to have qualified there, but there are still a lot chances tomorrow. From our side the race pace felt alright, but we always know that Mercedes is also very quick in the long runs. We’ll just wait and see what happens tomorrow.”

The final qualifying of this season gets underway during sun set. Alexander Albon is the first man to get a timed lap, while Max is also out on track quite early in Q1. On the softs, Verstappen does a 1:36.390 which puts him initially first. Moments later, Hamilton betters the Dutchman’s time while at the same moment Sebastian Vettel spins as he exits the final corner. He is able to continue on. Being eventually third fastest in Q1, Max moves on to the second part of qualifying. The dropouts in the first part of qualifying are: Romain Grosjean (P16), Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo’s (P17 and P18) and, as we have seen so often this season, both Williams’ of George Russell and Robert Kubica are the last two on the grid. The Briton has also out qualified his team mate Kubica in all 21 races of this season.

In Q2, Max heads out on the medium tyre compound just like Albon and Hamilton. The youngster clocks a 1:36.275 which earns him fifth. A second run follows, during which Max heads back out on the softs. At the end of his flying lap, Max takes his foot off the throttle to make sure that he will be starting the race on the medium compound. Fifth fastest makes sure that Verstappen gets through to Q3 quite easily. Failing to make it to Q2 are: Sergio Perez (P11), Pierre Gasly (P12), Lance Stroll (P13), Daniil Kvyat (P14) and Kevin Magnussen (P15).

The final part of qualifying starts off with a second fastest time for Verstappen (1:35.139). With this he is three tenths down on the fastest man on track, Hamilton. After his second run, there is no improvement for Verstappen as Bottas manages to better the Dutchman’s time. However, prior to qualifying it has been announced that the Finn has been dealt a grid penalty due to an engine change. This means that Max is still second behind pole sitter Lewis Hamilton. Ferrari running Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel both share the second row with behind of them Alexander Albon in fifth. Lando Norris finishes best of the rest in seventh and will be starting the race sixth fastest. Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Nico Hulkenberg round up the top ten.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will start 14:10 hrs. local Dutch time tomorrow.

Abu Dhabi GP contest: Win a Red Bull Racing team backpack

Results qualifying Abudhabi:

1Lewis HamiltonHAMMercedes1:35.8511:35.6341:34.779
2Valtteri BottasBOTMercedes1:36.2001:35.6741:34.973
3Max VerstappenVERRed Bull Racing Honda1:36.3901:36.2751:35.139
4Charles LeclercLECFerrari1:36.4781:35.5431:35.219
5Sebastian VettelVETFerrari1:36.9631:35.7861:35.339
6Alexander AlbonALBRed Bull Racing Honda1:36.1021:36.7181:35.682
7Lando NorrisNORMcLaren Renault1:37.5451:36.7641:36.436
8Daniel RicciardoRICRenault1:37.1061:36.7851:36.456
9Carlos SainzSAIMcLaren Renault1:37.3581:36.3081:36.459
10Nico HulkenbergHULRenault1:37.5061:36.8591:36.710
11Sergio PerezPERRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:36.9611:37.055
12Pierre GaslyGASScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:37.1981:37.089
13Lance StrollSTRRacing Point BWT Mercedes1:37.5281:37.103
14Daniil KvyatKVYScuderia Toro Rosso Honda1:37.6831:37.141
15Kevin MagnussenMAGHaas Ferrari1:37.7101:37.254
16Romain GrosjeanGROHaas Ferrari1:38.051
17Antonio GiovinazziGIOAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:38.114
18Kimi RäikkönenRAIAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:38.383
19George RussellRUSWilliams Mercedes1:38.717
20Robert KubicaKUBWilliams Mercedes1:39.236