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Verstappen storms to Abu Dhabi pole


Ahead of today's qualifying session, the air temperature is 29 degrees C, while the track temperature is 34 degrees.

On the evidence thus fat this is Verstappen's race to lose, though this morning Perez gave the world champion a run for his money.

With the title(s) sewn up Verstappen can afford to ease off but that isn't his style.

For Perez, this weekend is all about claiming the runner-up spot, which would not only mark the Mexican's best finish but also give Red Bull its first ever 1-2 in the championship.

However, while Ferrari is unusually off the pace, Mercedes would dearly love to spoil the party... and what better place than where the 2021 championship ended in such controversial fashion.

Though Russell has opened his win account, Hamilton faces the prospect of his first win-less season since he entered the sport, and at a time the Stevenage Rocket starts his 200th Grand Prix with Mercedes - the most that any driver has contested with the same team - he will be keen to celebrate that milestone in style.

As if that wasn't enough, there's the battle between Alpine and McLaren for fourth, Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin for sixth and Haas and Alpha Tauri for eighth... and don't forget it is the team standings that decide the prize money.

The lights go green and Latifi leads the way, followed by Gasly, Tsunoda, Stroll, Vettel and Albon.

Of the first wave, Tsunoda goes quickest (26.135), ahead of Schumacher, Stroll, Vettel and Gasly.

At which point the big guns head out, the Alpine pair the last to leave their garages.

Perez and Verstappen trade fastest sectors.

Leclerc goes quickest with a 25.211, but Perez responds with a 24.820 and Verstappen a 24.754.

Norris goes third and Ricciardo fourth, while Hamilton makes a mistake and runs wide in Turn 16. The Briton crosses the line at 25.594 to go sixth while teammate Russell posts a 25.545 to claim fourth.

The Bulls are separated by just 0.066s, but 4s clear of Leclerc.

Sainz goes third but remains 0.336s off the pace.

"I think my headrest is broken," reports Verstappen.

Albon goes 12th but drops to 19th as he becomes the first driver to have his time deleted after exceeding track limits.

"Mate!" exclaims Alonso following a mighty wobble.

Among those in the danger zone in Vettel who is contesting his last ever Grand Prix this weekend.

With 3:40 remaining the final assault gets underway. Only the Ferrari pair - currently third and fourth - remain in their garages.

Greens in the opening sectors for Zhou, while Vettel goes fifth overall.

Latifi goes 14th, Zhou goes ninth and Schumacher 10th.

Stroll goes 12th, while Albon fails to improve as does Bottas.

A late charge sees Magnussen go 14th, while Ricciardo holds on to 13th.

At the death, Alonso goes 15th, which demotes Magnussen, seven days after that pole.

Quickest is Verstappen, ahead of Perez, Sainz, Leclerc, Norris, Vettel, Russell, Hamilton, Zhou and Tsunoda.

We lose Magnussen, Gasly, Bottas, Albon and Latifi.

Hamilton leads teammate Russell out under the floodlights as Q2 gets underway.

"The brake is still a problem," reports Hamilton.

As the Mercedes pair begin the flying lap, Leclerc, Vettel, Zhou and Tsunoda head out.

Hamilton posts a 25.772 while Russell responds with a 25.363.

While the Mercedes drivers were on used softs, the Bulls are on fresh rubber, as is Norris.

Stroll goes third (25.996), but is demoted when his teammate splits the Mercedes pair with a 25.661.

Ocon goes second as Verstappen and Sainz trade fastest sectors.

Leclerc goes quickest (25.345), but is instantly leapfrogged by Norris and then Sainz, only for Verstappen and Perez (24.419) to go even quicker.

From quickest to fifth in a matter of moments for the Monegasque.

"Again, again, Red Bull in the last corner," complains Vettel of Perez.

PBs in the first two sectors are followed by a purple, as Hamilton improves from ninth to second with a 24.774, thereby splitting the Bulls.

Russell goes fourth with a 24.940 having posted PBs in all three sectors.

"Three-tenth?" responds a clearly stunned Hamilton when told the gap to Perez.

Vettel goes quickest in S1, but Alonso and then Leclerc go quicker.

Vettel goes fifth, Schumacher eighth, while Alonso can only manage 12th.

Tsunoda goes 8th which demotes Schumacher.

Alonso improves to ninth and Leclerc second.

Sainz goes third, Verstappen fourth and Norris sixth.

"It's OK," replies Alonso when told he has missed the cut.

Perez is quickest, ahead of Leclerc, Sainz, Verstappen, Hamilton, Norris, Russell, Vettel, Ocon and Ricciardo.

We lose Alonso, Tsunoda, Schumacher, Stroll and Zhou.

Check out our Saturday gallery from Yas Marina here.


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1. Posted by Editor, 20/11/2022 8:01

"@ equator180

In fact we've mentioned this a couple of times in articles not least when Sky and Red Bull had their spat.

In short, in the early summer, Red Bull changed the way they sent out their press releases. At first we continued to receive them but then they stopped arriving.

Having checked everything at our end we got in touch with Red Bull, who gave us more advice on how to solve the problem.

Still no releases.

We subsequently sent further emails, including - though I say it myself - a very nice one in the wake of Dietrich Mateschitz's death. We didn't even get a reply.

So, if they can't be bothered sending them, or even have the decency to respond to our emails, we're not going to go hunting for the quotes.

Hope that explains things."

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2. Posted by equator180, 20/11/2022 5:18

"Has anyone noticed that there have been only team notes from 9 team on this site, could this be called a boycott?"

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