Max Verstappen has taken pole position for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a qualifying session that showed some fierce driving from the main contenders.
The Dutch driver posted a time of 1 min 24.754 secs, seizing the top slot from Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez in the final stages.
Few would have bet against the second-placed Mexican losing the pole slot after his blistering performance early on, but a rattling run from Verstappen at the death sealed both driver’s fates on Sunday’s grid.
Speaking afterwards, Verstappen admitted to having an up-and-down time at Yas this year, describing how he and the team had experienced “chaotic” moments.
He admitted feeling natural balance had been restored, saying today’s result was “a little bit more back to normal”.
“I’m very happy that both cars are on the front row,” Verstappen added, referencing the reported row between himself and Perez and saying he wants his teammate to finish second in the championship.
Perez echoed Verstappen’s sentiments, saying: “We worked together as a team really strongly.”
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” he added. “It's going to be an interesting one, given how strong Ferrari and Mercedes will be."
As with the earlier two practice session, there were many drivers who looked like they may be contenders for pole.
Charles Leclerc, Perez’s rival for second place overall in the F1 championship, put in a solid performance and took third place on the grid, ensuring that the battle between the two drivers goes to the wire.
“I locked up in turns six and seven but to be honest, it's the place we deserve today,” the Ferrari driver said.
"The Red Bulls were stronger but we are still quite good position for tomorrow."
Leclerc’s Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz continued his steady improvement over the weekend, securing fourth position, while the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell will be fifth and sixth.
McLaren’s Landon Norris and Alpine’s Esteban Icon will take up the next two slots, followed by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo in the McLaren.
Vettel seemed happy enough ahead of his final race before retirement, saying: “We’ll see what happens."