Max Verstappen took the pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This is Verstappen’s 7th pole of the 2022 F1 season. Max Verstappen posted a time of 1:23.824, the only driver to go under the 1:23 mark. Sergio Perez locked the front row for Red Bull after qualifying P2. Perez and Verstappen seem to put the Brazilian Grand Prix incident behind them as Max Verstappen helped Perez get a Tow on his final run so that the Mexican won’t come under a threat from either the Ferraris or Mercedes for a spot on the front row of the grid.
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Mercedes were left disappointed by their performance in Qualifying
The Mercedes team had an abysmal session in qualifying in Abu Dhabi compared to their performances in the practice sessions. Lewis Hamilton and George Russell came close to out-qualifying the Red Bulls. Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari managed to get on the second row of the grid after qualifying P3 and P4, respectively. Hamilton and Russell could only post the 5th and 6th fastest time for Mercedes.
McLaren and Alpine will fight for P4 in the constructors
Lando Norris continued his impressive form of leading the midfield as he qualified P7 ahead of Estaban Ocon. In the last qualifying session of his career, Sebastian Vettel qualified a respectable P9, considering the overall lack of pace of the Aston Martin car.
Daniel Ricciardo, whom we will not see on the grid again, at least for 2023, managed to enter Q3. However, Ricciardo couldn’t put his car higher than P10 for the Sunday race.
In Q1, all drivers went out to the track on soft tyres. Yuki Tsunoda posted the fastest in the early part of Q1. However, it only lasted a few minutes before Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes came out on the track. Sergio Perez posted the fastest time, which Verstappen later pipped by only 0.066s. Verstappen later complained to his team about his headrest being broken on the radio.
Nicholas Latifi of Williams informed his team of facing a similar situation to Verstappen. Fernando Alonso didn’t have the smoothest outings in Q1 and barely managed to escape elimination, as did Daniel Ricciardo. Last week’s qualifying hero Kevin Magnussen surprisingly couldn’t manage to enter into Q2. His outgoing teammate Mick Schumacher beat him this time, and he got into Q2. Besides Magnussen, other drivers who got eliminated in Q1 were Pierre Gasly, Valtteri Bottas, and the Williams duo of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi.
At the start of Q2, the Ferraris went out on the track on scrub soft tyres, while the Red Bulls opted to use a brand new set of softs. Perez topped the timing sheets in Q2. He was 0.443s faster than Verstappen, who couldn’t put together a clean lap on his initial run. Lewis Hamilton, at one time, clocked the 2nd fastest time in the Q2 session but was later beaten by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz again.
Fernando Alonso and Alpine couldn’t sort out the gremlins the Spaniard was facing with his car. He got eliminated in Q2 by going only the 11th fastest. Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher, Lance Stroll, and Zhou Guanyu were the other drivers who were eliminated in Q2.
In the final part of Qualifying, Verstappen looked a class apart. He posted the provisional pole time on his first run, which nobody could come close to. Such was his dominance that the best Perez or Leclerc could hope for was P2. Perez eventually managed to get on the front row of the grid with help from his teammate, who provided him with a slipstream assist in the final Q3 run.
The Mercedes were left scratching their heads after showing initial promise on Friday and Saturday practice sessions. Lewis Hamilton’s chance of winning a race in every season of his F1 career also looks in jeopardy. Toto Wolff was so disappointed by the team’s performance in Abu Dhabi that he said their qualifying session belonged in the toilet. Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc will start the race on equal points on Sunday. Their battle for coming second in the driver’s table would capture a lot of attention from the fans.