Max Verstappen to start the all-important Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton

The Red Bull driver was fastest in qualifying on Saturday with Mercedes rivals in second place, which means the pair will line up at the top together for the final race of the season.

“I’m extremely happy with this. It’s what we wanted but it’s not easy given Mercedes’ form,” Verstappen said after qualifying, having gone 0.371 seconds faster than Hamilton.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow, that’s the most important.”

Both drivers are level on points to enter the dramatic finale and not many expect Verstappen to lead the table after Hamilton proved too dominant in practice.

An important year for Formula One has come to a thrilling end

But Red Bull and Verstappen put together a great Q3 to record an unavailability of 1 minute 22,109 seconds.

Hamilton said: “Max had a great lap.

“It looked really strong through practice. We couldn’t get past that lap, great thing from him. I hope we can have a good race.

“The last lap was so nice and clean, I just couldn’t go any faster. I can’t beat the time he did today, he totally deserved the title.”

The rivalry between the two drivers has smoldered throughout the season, simmering at various points, but the stage is now perfectly set for Sunday’s finale.

Hamilton is bidding for his eighth world title while Verstappen is aiming for his first.


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