Weather: dry 29.5°C
Tarmac: dry 25.4°C
Wind: 0.3 m/s NE
Pressure: 1018.5 bar
Max Verstappen qualified as quickest for the 13th time in his F1 career and scored pole position for tomorrow's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver will start from P1 for 10th time this season. It was the 73rd pole for the Red Bull Racing team.
Sebastian Vettel was the first driver who entered the track in daylight. After the first run both Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. Hamilton was on P1 with a 1:23:226 min and Bottas behind him on +0.101s. Max Verstappen was 3rd in the Red Bull, but improved halfway Q1 toward P2 on only +0.056s behind his title rival.
With 6.25 minutes to go Q1 was red flagged to pick up a bollard from the mainstraight, that was picked up by Haas driver Mick Schumacher on the apex of the last corner. The session was restarted very quickly and with 5 minutes to go the following drivers had to improve to make it into Q2: Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin), Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo), Nicholas Latifi (Williams), MIck Schumacher (Haas) and NIkita Mazepin (Haas).
Both Mercedes drivers gone out for a last lap to try and beat their quickest lap time. Hamilton improved 0.4s to 1:22.845 min. Verstappen stayed in the pits and Bottas moved up to P2. Vettel improved enough to make it into Q2 and pushed Williams driver George Russell out.
In Q2 al lot of teams choose to started on the 'yellow' medium tyres. The F1 title protagonists Hamilton and Verstappen were the fastest after the first run. Hamilton recorded a 1:23.185 min, while Verstappen was only +0.004s slower on P2. Bottas was on P3 on only +0.061s. Carlos Sainz went even faster than Hamilton in the Ferrari, but used a set of soft tyres for it. There was only 0.577s between P1 and P10 now.
With 5 minutes to go the drivers in the dropzone were: Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren), Lance Stroll (Aston Martin), Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo), Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) and Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri).
The drivers who will start the race on medium tyres are Hamilton, Bottas and Yuki Tsunoda. All other drivers will start on softs. Ricciardo was the only driver in the dropzone who improved enough to make it to Q3. Alonso was the one he eliminated. Ricciardo was just starting his lap when Alonso came close behind him and was compromised by Ricciardo's late acceleration.
The battle for pole was kicked off by Red Bull with Perez in front of Verstappen. who was in front of Hamilton in the first run. Verstappen's first run was a 1:22.109 min. Hamilton was 2nd but +0.551s slower. Perez was 3rd quickest on +0.859s.
In the second run both Mercedes drivers went out as first, but could not improve. Verstappen did improve but aborted his lap when he heard that Hamilton didn't make it. Norris scored a brilliant P3 for McLaren.
Qualifying Times 2021 Saudi Arabian GP
|1||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1:23.322||1:22.800||1:22.109||19|
|4||11||Sergio Pérez||Red Bull||1:23.350||1:23.135||1:22.947||24|
|13||18||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||1:24.061||1:24.066||17|
|14||99||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||1:24.118||1:24.251||17|
|15||5||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||1:24.225||18|
|18||7||Kimi Räikkönen||Alfa Romeo||1:24.779||8|
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