Verstappen beats Hamilton to crucial pole position for Abu Dhabi title-decider

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying

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Max Verstappen ensured he will start the championship-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the best possible position after comfortably beating Lewis Hamilton to pole.

Red Bull orchestrated a slipstream for their title contender with Verstappen’s team mate Sergio Perez giving him a tow along the back straight. It proved unnecessary as Hamilton was unable to get within three tenths of his rival in second place.

Lando Norris took a surprise third on the grid for McLaren, ahead of Sergio Perez. Carlos Sainz Jnr will start fifth for Ferrari, one place ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes.


Verstappen was the first driver of the championship contending teams to set a lap time. But his early mark of 1’23.680 was immediately eclipsed by Hamilton, who produced a 1’23.266 to go comfortably fastest.

Midway through the session, Mick Schumacher struck the bollard on the inside of the final corner, knocking it onto the racing line on the exit. The debris was then collected by the McLaren of Lando Norris, which dragged it further down the circuit. With the obstacle posing a potential hazard, the session was red flagged to allow the bollard to be retreived by the marshals.

When the session restarted moments later, Sebastian Vettel was in danger of being eliminated from Q1 for the second weekend in succession. His endeavour to progress was frustrated when he appeared to be impeded by Esteban Ocon on the exit of the final corner. The incident was noted by the stewards and Vettel was able to improve on his next lap.

A frustrated Vettel then encountered Carlos Sainz Jnr on his final run. Despite these dramas, he secured a place in Q2, while the stewards also ruled no investigation was needed for the Sainz incident.

Vettel’s progression meant that both Williams drivers were at risk of being eliminated. Nicholas Latifi only just missed out on Q2 in 16th place, while George Russell failed to improve on his final effort despite going faster than anyone down the long back straight and had to settle for 17th.

“Tyres were nowhere, absolutely nowhere,” he rued after his final qualifying run for Williams. “We could have gone fast-slow-fast. We had the pace.”

In his final qualifying session of his Formula 1 career, Kimi Raikkonen was knocked out in Q1 in 18th place. As it so often has in 2021, the back row of the grid was occupied by the two Haas drivers of Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, respectively.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

16Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes1’24.338
17George RussellWilliams-Mercedes1’24.423
18Kimi RaikkonenAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’24.779
19Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari1’24.906
20Nikita MazepinHaas-Ferrari1’25.685

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As both the sun and the track temperatures began to drop around the Yas Marina circuit, the majority of the field took to the track with medium compound tyres on their cars.

Hamilton produced what appeared to be a remarkable lap of a 1’23.185 on the yellow-marked compound, until it was almost exactly matched by Verstappen and then Bottas, whose first efforts were within a tenth of Hamilton’s time.

Both Ferraris looked to secure passage to Q3 by using the pace advantage offered by the soft tyres. Carlos Sainz Jnr appeared to make that plan pay off for the team when he instantly went quickest of all, with Leclerc moving to fourth fastest.

Verstappen’s second effort on his medium tyres was ruined when he locked up heavily under braking for the first corner, running wide and immediately reporting a flat spot on his left-front tyre. He aborted the run and pitted, before being sent back out on the soft tyres with Red Bull not wanting their championship contender to start the race on a compromised set of tyres or risk elimination as the track surface began to yield more grip.

With just over two minutes of the session remaining and drivers setting up for their final runs, a heavy traffic jam formed in the third sector. Hamilton used a fresh set of medium tyres to improve his best time, before the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Perez went quickest on the softs – ensuring the championship rivals would be taking different strategies into tomorrow’s deciding race.

Fernando Alonso caught Daniel Ricciardo at the end of his final lap and was unimpressed with the McLaren compromising his last sector. He became the first driver eliminated in 11th, ahead of Pierre Gasly in 12th after the AlphaTauri complained of cold brakes after being forced to slow in the traffic of the final sector.

Lance Stroll was the next driver knocked out in 13th, ahead of Antonio Giovinazzi and Sebastian Vettel the last driver out in 15th. The stewards confirmed the two incidents involving Ricciardo and Alonso, and Gasly and Vettel, would be investigated after qualifying.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault1’23.460
12Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Honda1’24.043
13Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes1’24.066
14Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo-Ferrari1’24.251
15Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes1’24.305

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As the most crucial qualifying session of the season began, Red Bull sent both their cars out onto the circuit first, with Perez ahead of team mate Verstappen.

As the pair rounded the turn six and seven chicane, Perez lifted off along the subsequent straight and allowed Verstappen a slipstream heading into turn nine. It proved an effective tactic, as Verstappen set provisional pole of a 1’22.109, over half a second faster than his rival Hamilton.

Perez’s second lap, his first genuine attempt, was good enough for him to go third, ahead of Bottas in fourth – but only after Norris complained the Red Bull had got in his way in the final sector.

Hamilton was the first driver to start his final qualifying effort in the dying moments and despite improving on his previous time, it was nowhere near close enough to challenge Verstappen’s provisional pole time, ensuring that the Red Bull driver would take the crucial advantage at the start of tomorrow’s race.

Red Bull’s hopes of having Perez start directly behind his team mate on the grid were dashed when Norris jumped up to third on the grid with a strong final lap, with Perez having to settle for fourth. Mercedes would likely be more disappointed by Bottas only able to take sixth on the grid, being beaten by the Ferrari of Sainz.

Leclerc will start seventh in the second Ferrari, ahead of Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo rounding out the top 10.

Top ten in Q3

1Max VerstappenRed Bull-Honda1’22.109
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’22.480
3Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes1’22.931
4Sergio PerezRed Bull-Honda1’22.947
5Carlos Sainz JnrFerrari1’22.992
6Valtteri BottasMercedes1’23.036
7Charles LeclercFerrari1’23.122
8Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Honda1’23.220
9Esteban OconAlpine-Renault1’23.389
10Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes1’23.409

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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104 comments on “Verstappen beats Hamilton to crucial pole position for Abu Dhabi title-decider”

  1. In a way it is a fitting final qualifying. Redbull has been the fastest and most adaptable car over the season with Mercedes often struggling with a diva car and Hamilton the hunter.
    Looking forward to an exciting race tomorrow thank God for the differing starting tyres. Had Max also started on Mediums it would have been very difficult for Lewis.
    Also a fitting end for Bottas. 1 second off pole and unlike Perez, wasn’t of any help to his team mate.

    1. Bot was closer to Ham than Per to Ver.

      1. What is your point?

        1. The point is that Verstappen makes more of a difference to car performance than Hamilton does

          1. … of course he does … #pointlesscomments

          2. @nvherman Or Perez sacrificed his own pace a little to give a tow. Actually the case.

        2. Perez sacrifised his lap to give Max a tow, what did Bottas do?

          1. bottas clearly wasn’t instructed to help out. Perez was on his first lap, but had a good chance to get a good lap in. But he was 8 tenths off verstappen, and Bottas was half a second off Hamilton. And bottas arguably has a loss of a tenth or two due to an older engine vs hamilton.

            Perez was asked to help out, and he did. But in terms of who had the better pace relative to their team mate, arguably, that is bottas, but results wise it obviously didn’t work out.

    2. @amg44
      I think Bottas hasn’t underperformed. He performed to his usual poor standard and was the casual driver that he always been. He’s a C class driver with no personality and if Mercedes expected him to help Lewis in a title fight then there is something seriously wrong in them. It is expected that he will be stuck in the traffic as usual.

      On the other hand if Perez will be able to clear Norris in the early stages of the race then that’s another strategic advantage for RBR. I don’t expect Perez to be a threat to Hamilton but as seen in other races RBR could use him to force Hamilton to stop and protect Verstappen from the undercut.

      1. Don’t agree. BOT is B-class driver, not that bad to fall in the C-class. I reckon sometimes it looks like as if he’s a C-class racer indeed. Also, unlike VER’s team mates since RIC, BOT really helped HAM in the titles fight since his arrival at Mercedes. Let’s not forget that in most races when HAM did not deliver, it was BOT who made the life hard for the opposition and prevented them from gaining most points since the titles fights with VET. Hopefully, this is the race where PER will make it up for the lack of support during the year and make the race for HAM a nightmare.

      2. I think Mercedes missed a trick there. As the temps dropped, Mercedes car lost performance or didn’t gain as much as others around them. Had they tried a flying lap after two outlaps they might have been quicker. Still not good enough for pole but Bottas might have been higher. Bottas did not gain any significant time between Q1 and Q3 where others around him found a lot more.

      3. Yeah that’s the worry. If perez on the faster tires gets by Lewis to hold him up, that could be the key factor no one calculates for.

        Perez gets ahead and then sacrifies his lap times to slow Hamilton down in his wake.
        Allowing Verstappen to pit and come out ahead of Lewis on to hards, which he runs to rest of the race.
        or with 15 laps to go Max pits again on to softs to catch Lewis in the final laps.

        Its doable but would need perez to slow Ham down at the start. Max as the advantage for clean air, at least until in runs into the [obliging] back markers.

    3. Yeah red bull has got faster car that’s why they needed to run low downforce setup on low and medium downforce tracks through good part of the season. Makes sense, oh wait!

    4. This is exactly why the comments have been so fierce this year. There is a group Hamilton fans that have created or went along with Lewis/Mercs narrative to make their guy not look so bad. The facts are however completely different. Never has the second RedBull been competitive whereas the mediocre at best Bottas has never been far of the pace of Lewis. Lets face it, the entire regulatory period there has been a significant advantage for those driving a Mercedes. Kudo’s to the team, an unprecedented achievement. This does however undermine the greatness of Lewis and therefore claiming the RB is faster was the first and most stubborn narrative and lie that had to be obtained this year. Without it, all would fail for Mercedes and Lewis. True, Max from time to time managed to challenge the Mercedes but never ever his team mate could. Wasnt even near, except maybe for Baku which lasted 10 meters and was only created by some one else’s misfortune and then by some one else’s mistake. This underdog thing is what polarised the discussion since it is a too transparent tactic/mindgame. Seeing this might not be enough, the ‘Max is so dangerous’ narrative needed to be added after the massive shunt of Lewis in copse. He knew he had met his match there, knowing that the RB wasnt even as strong as his own car but with this guy could still beat him. He panicked and made his signature move, like he has done so many times, Albon can tell you. The facts however were that Max had hardly any points on his license, while Lewis did have quite some. It all went downhill form Silverstone with Toto and Horner too. Should Mercedes win it all again, no surprise and congrats again for getting this V6 hybrid period exact right. I am not convinced Lewis was the better driver this year at all however.

  2. The grid is set 🤞 for a good race tomorrow. For Max having Norris and his team mate so close must be a great feeling. Odds are in his favour now I think.

  3. Great lap by verstappen. The slipstream by checo helped (about. 0.2s) but the blinder in the third sector was unbelievable.
    Nice to see Norris back on front.
    Tomorrow strategy and the drivers will decide the best season in f1.

    1. Hardly believe that slipstream was that good, Per seemed too far in front in my opinion. If I’m not mistaken, they said on Sky VER gained like 0,08sec with that tow.

      1. @mg1982 Than Red Bull risked a lot given Verstappen’s standings position and a 0.08 sec benefit. I am not convinced they’ll do such blunder.

  4. Can we stop the whining about Merc’s engine now and start enjoying the race tomorrow for what it is with the different tyre strategies?

    1. They still have the fastest engine but they need 2x the number of engines to stay ahead in a season.
      Redbull still has the better driver.

      1. Based on what exactly? One is a 7 time world champion, the other is Verstappen.

        Calm down with your hyperbole.

        1. All they have is hyperbole. They live in that narrative.

          1. @theswift Verstappen is ahead: Amazing skill
            Hamilton is ahead: Amazing car

            Perez sacrifices his race: Teamwork
            Bottas does the same: He’s Ham’s b**ch.

            And they believe this with no sense of irony or whatsoever.

          2. @rockgod when redbul/marko is nursing the team’s narrative, it is not surprising its fans follow the same path…

            ham wins, pffft it is just the car no skills involved.
            max wins, he showed ham how to drive the car
            perez in same car nowhere to be seen, the car doesnt suit him or he is just way below max’s level
            bottas in same car nowhere to be seen, despite the car he is pathetic…

            ham looses, he doesnt know how to drive best car
            max looses, he can only do so much with a bad car or ham has a cheat engine, car whatever cheats allowed them to win despite max’s best efforts

      2. So, Verstappen “yabba dabba dooo”d his way to the pole like Fred Flinstone practically with an engine? 😄

        C’mon, even you’re not that blind to believe that.

      3. VER fans can’t resist pushing their narrative – BEST EVER. Let’s remind ourselves, 7X WDC titles vs…

        1. @theswift But most of those titles were with the dominant car in history and with DRS to boot meaning he had no meaningful challenges bar Rosberg for a couple of years. This year he was well behind Max before he and his team mate smashed into him in consecutive races and then in the last 4 races his car saw a car with a similar advantage to most his WDC years which has seen him reel Max in. So far the biggest challenge to Hamilton’s titles have been from Massa and Rosberg. Max is comfortably better than any of Hamilton’s previous rivals where he won the WDC which he has stated.

          1. Absolutely, they keep saying 7 wdc (or possibly even 8 after tomorrow) when most of it is down to a dominant car.

          2. Have you just started watching f1.

            Honestly the sheer nonsense being pushed against Hamilton is insane.

            He has won races every year, no matter the car. He matched a two time world champion as a rookie.

            Lately who wouldn’t have wanted to drive in the Mercedes’ or Redbull.

            These are the two best on the grid by far but the nastiness by Redbull and Verstapen fans boarders from unintelligent to racist.

          3. Remind, me how many race disciplines has Max won?

      4. Lets put this into some perspective. RB are running with less Rearwing again, to get that speed. This will have other implications , eg tire life.

        Also Max had to get a tow off Perez to get that margin on the Pole, unlike Ham whose done it all himself.
        The illusion of the tow wont count for anything tomorrow. I’m expecting Lewis to stay up there.

        1. Verstappen was fine without tow, noticed the 2nd lap was even better without tow? He slowed in the last sector.

  5. Two different strategies for the start too, Medium or Soft – wonder which will be the most advantageous :)

    1. Max wins becomes WDC. Lewis retires ,Mercedes sign Lando, Horner foams at the mouth and retires to clinic in Austria, Gerry reforms Spice Girls with Max as new lead.

      1. Max wins and then retires! And starts a carting school and a YT channel together with Rosberg.

  6. Whatever the outcome tomorrow, what we are seeing from Max is special. Very, very special.
    I think Mercedes have a car advantage, and has had for the last 4 races, around a couple of tenths, and clearly Max driving is making up for that difference.
    This is Senna levels of magic.
    Max deserves to win the championship tomorrow, fingers crossed he gets it.

    1. Car advantage with Bottas 6th or 7th? Seriously?

      Redbull have consistent pace in their cars all season long. Even on the power circuits. 2021 regs hurt Mercedes badly.

      I wish Redbull will just drive and stop sowing hatred.
      Horner and Marko frighten me.

      1. The very toxic British media frighten everyone.
        Look at the level of comments even here. Terrible. M

        1. Coming from you, king of the orange trolls? Keep booing, tomorrow we race (with respect, and hopefully on the track, yes, that’s within the white lines).

      2. Bottas just didnt pull the lap together. His best lap in Q3 was less than 1 tenth quicker than his best in Q1, despite track evolution. Everyone one else around him improved, he just couldnt take advantage of track evolution, for whatever reason.

        1. I don’t think Lewis had any faith in Bottas providing a sensible slipstream, so abandoned that idea.

          Bottas will have to support the team from the middle of the field. If he can stay within 40 sec of the leader Max, he could play a part when Max comes in to pit. Otherwise i can’t see Bottas contributing. That said the cars [meaning Norris ] ahead should come back to him.

      3. Well, a McLaren is in front of a RBR and a Mercedes, then there’s less than 0,1sec between PER and BOT, also they’re like almost 0,5sec behind HAM so….. I’d say more like PER and BOT were mediocre (like in most cases anyway) while VER made a difference. HAM looked good, nothing special tho. Still, Mercedes seems to be better in race trim so, anything is possible tomorrow.

        1. @mg1982 I agree Mercedes is sightly quicker and is starting on the optimum strategy (mediums), bur RB race simulations on Friday didnt look too shabby, so I am hopeful that even starting in the wrong tyres, RB can make it work tomorrow. The start will be crucial and for sure there will be safety cars tomorrow.
          Anything could happen really.

      4. Horner and Marko frighten you? Aww diddums, my heart bleeds.

        FWIW, I’m British, and I want Verstappen to win. He’s definitely the better driver currently

        1. Who supports a driver for their nationality. The vast majority never have had national drivers in F1.
          We love good sports men and attitudes.

      5. Bottas had to use old engine, so show some respect. He has been close to Lewis in quali.

    2. Delusional, do you guys have no confidence in your team, or driver? Come on, RB has the best package, the stats say so.

      Let’s race.

      1. Which stats say so? Please name your sources for this. If you cannot, your comment means nothing.

        1. How many poles do RB have? Let’s start there. Straight line speed, let’s discuss that. Bring it.

      2. @theswift if you think RB have a better car, just compare Bottas’ results to Perez’s.

        1. @nvherman Again, I mean you understand the effects of relative lap times of the fact Perez towed Verstappen, right? Do you need that explaining?

          1. I mean over the course of the whole season, not just one qualifying session

          2. That’s difficult to judge. I’m not convinced by Perez’s speed in general, beyond the whole tyre-saving thing, plus Bottas, probably a better driver in terms of speed and discipline, has focused set-up on qualifying for several seasons now and tends to fall away badly in many races as a consequence. I don’t think Verstappen needs any reputational boosting. He’s supremely quick. But comparison with Hamilton is tricky, they’re both ‘natural drivers,’ feeling the balance of the car in order to maintain speed, and are probably more or less identical in terms of raw speed and positional awareness. They drive quite different cars, though, so any meaningful closer comparison is tricky.

      3. Dude what’s wrong with you? Why is it so hard to admit Lewis has the better package? All the world champions drove the best car of the year. Merc has the best engine and race pace (on harder tires). They have the best and all-around package. Period.

        1. Hence, if VER wins, he has the best car? What’s wrong with you. The irony, huh?

          1. Lewis has the momentum. He won the last three races. I will change my option if VER wins tomorrow.

            I wish I can block your comments because you are so biased.

    3. lexusreliability
      11th December 2021, 14:43


      It was a good lap by Max no doubt, but let’s not pretend like Perez giving him the tow had no effect.

    4. lexusreliability?
      11th December 2021, 14:45


      It was a good lap by Max no doubt, but let’s not pretend like Perez giving him the tow had no effect.

      1. Max is driving out of his skin right now. Sure the tow helped, but in his last run he was matching his first run time until the team told him to back off, and he had no tow in the last run.
        The boy is special.

        1. Here I thought you were special.

        2. Yes, this is what I keep pointing out too, the tow can’t have had much of an effect.

        3. lexusreliability?
          11th December 2021, 18:29


          Max got a tow on both laps.

  7. I don’t know what to expect in the race. A clean lap from Verstappen. I would have preferred Lewis starting behind Max because after Brazil and Saudi Arabia, I have no trust in Verstappen, especially with a tyre on the start that has better grip. Abu Dhabi has tended to spark crazy results from Q2 to Q3.

    1. Agreed.

      the only other question is how much or how little will this new track take out of the tires?
      The tires could last much longer on the relatively new surface of this trace. With all those corner taken out of the track it should mean less wear or latteral forces on the tires.

      RB are also running less rear wing again, to get that speed. This might have implications on the tires as they slid around in the corners. We shall see.. we saw them flat spot the medium, who knows what the RB’s will do to their soft over the course of the race….

      Mercedes just needs to find a way to put some preasure on Max.

      1. “Mercedes just needs to find a way to put some pressure on Max.” That pressure is called Hamilton. Max’s soft rear tires will be quickly destroyed by a) Hamilton’s speed, b) RB’s low downforce, and c) the heavy starting fuel load.

  8. Exciting last qualifying, but there’s still more factors playing into Hamilton’s and Mercedes’ hands. The tyres, the superior engine, Verstappen’s old PU…I think that in the light of today’s quali, Hamilton might play it safe into the first corner tomorrow and rely on his pace and strategic advantage – Verstappen will probably have to stop twice and a I seriously doubt he can significantly push over longer stint due to his engine. I’d therefore say advantage Hamilton, but I’d finally like to see a different race than Hamilton chasing after Verstappen towards the end of the race.

    1. I don’t know if he can afford to stay behind him because the red bull is fast on the straight, which would make it hard to overtake, tyre degradation would be the deciding factor.

    2. A soft and hard won’t cut it? If LH goes medium, hard and max soft,Hard..and max has track position(which he will).. that should do it yes?

      1. He will be losing massively on the softs while Hamilton can prolong his stint on mediums even half-way into the race.

    3. Yesterday when Redbull were working on the sifts, I could tell they wanted to try something like this. It has(the track) new characteristics because of the changes, so previous Tyre performance data may be obsolete.
      The Redbull handle well, they can nurse those Tyres. I just don’t see the Mercedes a power advantage. It never existed.

  9. Think RB have pulled a great move here. They cant compete with Merc on the harder compounds so are clearly looking to stay away from the Hard tyre.
    I really can’t call who’s is going to win. I have a “feeling” this is Max’s but thats just a mumbo jumbo gut feeling.
    It’s going to be tense. Thats for SURE! C’Mon LEWIS, lets do this!!!

    1. If max goes soft hard, with track position, I think RB got this in the bag.. easy.. i see a new WDC now…

      Merc wcc

      1. Yes, the wdc anything can happen, the wcc mercedes should have it unless hamilton retires and red bulls make the race without issues; if bottas retires hamilton alone can get 2nd minimum and get the wcc, while bottas will not necessarily do that in a normal race.

  10. Amazing drive from Max and great tactics from RB.

    Game on for Sunday!

  11. This is good,

    This is how they would have started with RB on medium in Q2, RB messed up big time going to softs in Q2.
    Now they pit early, and are likely to have to run a 2 stop.

    Also it suit Lewis not having the RB behind or along side him off the start. There is now no excuses now for Max running into Lewis.

    Lewis only has to keep Max in sight, even in DRS, just stay behind him and save his tires, to run longer.
    Max will use up his tires trying to create a gap to lewis. Max will pit early on to hards and try to go on a one stop,
    but those tire wont last as well to the end, compared to Mercedes pitting at a sensible midway point.

    Barring any shenanagans on the track, Its all going to come down to tire life.

    Soft + Hards [+ softs?] VS Medium + Hards.

    1. With Masi we could get well timed safety cars.

    2. Yes that is certainly a possible scenario, if we dont have any safety cars. Also we dont know how the start is going to pan out, everyone around Lewis is starting on Softs, so there could be a risk of first corner kerfuffle. It only takes a front wing knock to make things complicated for Mercedes.

  12. Excellent lap from Max, redbull really played it well with Perez’s tow of Max. However I feel over the race distance, Hamilton and Mercedes will have excellent pace evidenced by the last three races and it will be fascinating to see how the strategies pan out. May the best man win.

  13. Nice qualifying, great work from Verstappen, i recon the soft tyres were a 2nd choice to start to, taking in consideration the flat right medium tyre on the Q2, this could cause even more a thrilling race for tomorrow. Hope for a clean race and the title to be decided on the last corner. To all of you F1 fans hope you enjoy it, to all F1 pilots this season, all single one of you, thanks for this show!!

  14. Although I still think Merc has the upper hand because of the tires, I think RBR did a brilliant job today.
    Putting pressure on HAM is exactly what they needed. He looked a bit stunned at the interview – don’t think he expected Max to have that kind of speed.
    Hopefully it will be a clean race.

  15. Heck of a counter punch from Verstappen. Not sure how he managed to turn around the pace deficit from practice, and to do it to the tune of 3 tenths is a big effort. It’s stuff like this that highlights just how good he is, and makes his absolutely dubious race tactics all the more frustrating. Id love to be able to fully appreciate him for his ability, but he makes it so hard sometimes.

    Credit to him though, he’s put himself in a great position to win tomorrow and deserves credit for that. It’s just a shame it always has to be tinged with the hope that he doesn’t do anything stupid if/when Hamilton draws up onto the back of him.

    Good luck to them both tomorrow. On balance they are both deserving champions. Historically I’ve always rooted for Hamilton, but if Max can win by keeping it clean then I don’t think I’ll feel anything other than gratitude for a great season.

    1. Jacob G Fardell
      11th December 2021, 16:21

      Brilliant summary, I couldn’t have expressed it better. I’m rooting for Lewis but am hoping for a great race.

    2. I share this sentiment. If clean so be it if he wins but if he pulls the rubbish tactics as per usual…well…

  16. Max only got pole because of the Tow from Perez. Hamilton should have been on pole today.

    1. guys i’ve found damon hill’s secret racefans account

      1. good one =D

    2. Maybe you should check verstappen’s 2nd lap without tow..

  17. Nobody knows how long the softs of Max will last. In dirty air and chasing Max the mediums of Hamilton might suffer more and the difference might be not so big.

    1. Good point. Also, the Mercs are not that good in dirty air anyway.

  18. What’s interesting is that Mercs didn’t mirror the tow tactic. They seem content with what they have. Bottas on the other hand is waaayy out of position. Plus I found David’s interview questions to Hamilton to insinuate that Hamilton didn’t maximise (haha just saw what I did there) the package. Either way we have a race tomorrow and we’ll done to Rbr, Max and Perez for the strategy.

  19. Honestly, all I pray for is a clean, fair race. Let’s keep it between the lines and try and makes the apex (even when you’re being overtaken). If that happens, I’ll be happy with any result.

    1. Amen brother. If Verstappen drives into sunset cleanly and wins this WDC, I’m OK with that. But looking at his defence in Brazil and Jeddah I think it’s too much ask of Verstappen.

      1. Depends on pace of the car ofc, looking at the tyres unlikely I’d say.

  20. As expected, despite what they said, Red Bull have the faster car.

    Pretty sure nobody believed them when they were doing the “oh poor me” on Friday.

    1. What is this fast car nonsense you’re on about? It’s Verstappen who personally willed the car into pole today, at times even getting off the car and pulling it.

      1. @rockgod Out-hyperboling Horner, quite some achievement!
        Mere human mortal Perez, meanwhile, sacrificed to the Olympian gods on his own humble Q3 runs, still outpaced Bottas. Sure sign that Red Bull have a faster car on soft tyres.

        1. Hey, I’m learning from the best @david-br. 😊

          1. @rockgod Just be careful, that’s some powerful Kool-Aid you’re sampling. :oP

  21. Inspite of Max’s brilliant effort in quali, I think race pace wise Mercs will be too fast plus Max is already disadvantaged strategy wise, not that it would have helped him even with medium tires. But atleast he gave his all.

  22. Title contenders are on a different level.

    Both Lewis and Verstappen made excellent laps…

    And Verstappen was in Senna mode.

    Just magic.

    Tomorrow anything goes, hopefully the best man wins, and stewards have nothing to do.

  23. Lewis dont get enough credit for having to judge what a rival will do every time he races Imola Catalunya Brazil and Jeddah Max would of taken Lewis out ever time if Lewis had stayed where he was. Lewis made one mistake wheel to wheel sivlerstone. Lewis does not get enough credit finishing Brazil and Jeddah ahead of Max if Max had succeded what he attempted lewis want have had this shot. The fact Max has been like 3 tenths faster 2 quallys in a row on diff tracks just shows what a car they have a car that follows better in traffic aswell look at the the no hope perez who made Button look like senna over 1 lap stayed within drs lap after lap in mexico.

  24. A fitting way to end one hell of a season.

    Tyre strategy will be crucial, max will have to pit by lap 20, ham in the 30’s. Lewis has more pace towards the end (usual strategy) ultimately passes max who will try to hard (lack of Championship experience) and lock up. Of course, this all changes if Lewis gets the jump into T1

    As long as it’s clean and the race isn’t a procession, should be good.

  25. I don’t understand this obsession with trying to drag down drivers by claiming they have a car advantage. The reality is the Red Bull and Mercedes have been very evenly matched throughout the year. We haven’t arrived at any circuit with any certainty over which one would come out on top. Max and Lewis have both been driving brilliantly on the whole so we’ve ended up in this incredible position of 2 evenly matched drivers driving 2 evenly matched cars arriving at the final round equal on points. Just enjoy it and appreciate it because we probably won’t see another season like it for… well 47 years if history is anything to go by.

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