Abu Dhabi GP: Verstappen secures first non-Mercedes pole of 2020

Max Verstappen saved his best until last in Abu Dhabi, securing pole position ahead of the two Mercedes’ for the first time this season.

Q1 didn’t see any major issues, although Verstappen was unhappy before he even left the pit lane after the Williams of Nicholas Latifi was released ahead of him, causing him to hit the brakes and gain a flat spot on his fresh tyres.

The stewards said they would be investigating the incident after the session, however Verstappen was not hindered as he managed to put his Red Bull safely through to Q2.

It was a shaky start for Lewis Hamilton, sending his car wide on his first flying lap and going over a curb, sparking worries of floor damage to the Mercedes and his lap time being deleted. After a trip back to the garage for a check up he set the quickest lap of Q1.

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The drivers that lost out were Kimi Raikkonen in 16th and Kevin Magnussen in 17th.

A week after George Russell secured a place on the front row of the grid in a Mercedes car, he could only manage 18th in his Williams.

Behind him were Haas’ Pietro Fittipaldi in 19th and Latifi in 20th.

Q2 proved disastrous for Renault as both drivers failed to make it through with Esteban Ocon in 11th and Daniel Ricciardo in 12th.

Following them in 13th was Sebastian Vettel and Antonio Giovinazzi in 14th.

Sergio Perez did not set a time in Q2 due to the fact a grid penalty places him at the back of the grid anyway, though he will start ahead of Latifi.

Despite getting through to Q3, Alex Albon had a poor Q2 after his set lap on the medium tyres was deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 21. This means he will be starting the race on soft tyres.

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After the first runs in Q3 only 0.156s separated the top four made up of Valtteri Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton and Albon.

When it came down to it Verstappen was the one everyone else was chasing, securing the first non-Mercedes pole position of the 2020 season with a lap time of 1:35.246.

Joining him on the front row of the grid will be Bottas who was only 0.025s behind. Seven-time World Champion, Hamilton will line up third on the grid alongside Lando Norris in the McLaren who set a stellar lap time.

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Albon could only manage fifth and is joined by Carlos Sainz in sixth on the third row. The rest of the top ten is made up of Daniil Kvyat, Lance Stroll, Charles Leclerc and Pierre Gasly.

The perfect qualifying session for Verstappen means that he has the best chance to stay ahead of Bottas in Sunday’s race which would secure him second place overall in the drivers’ championship.