F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Qualifying RECAP – Max Verstappen will start the season-finale on pole with Charles Leclerc second – but Lewis Hamilton fails to make Q3, while Carlos Sainz will begin in 16th
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Follow Mail Sport’s live blog for the latest news and lap-by-lap updates from qualifying at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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Be sure to come back tomorrow for coverage of the final race of the 2023 season, with things getting underway at 1PM.

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Check out our qualifying report below

Downbeat Hamilton ‘struggling with balance’

Russell has ‘mixed feelings’ despite fourth place

Full grid line-up for tomorrow

Will Verstappen make it 19 wins from 22 this season?

You wouldn’t bet against it, but here is how the full grid will look tomorrow when the lights go out.

Final standings

That concludes a dramatic qualifying session with plenty of twists and turns.

However, it seemed inevitable Verstappen would finish in pole yet again after a scinitliatng performance across all three sessions as he looks to end a memorable season in fine fashion.

That’s four different teams in the top four too.

The full results from Q3 are as follows:

Disaster for Perez

The Mexican had posted the fifth fastest time but his lap has just been deleted for breaching track limits.

In the meantime, Verstappen is celebrating his 12th pole of the season.

Drama at the death

Norris skids a little on the final turn of his lap and loses time.

in his place, Piastri overtakes him by just 0.043 of a econd.

Then Leclerc out of nowhere fires up to 2nd.

Just over three minutes to go

Several drivers have switched over their tyres to new ones and they’re back out for a final lap.

It looks like Red Bull and McLaren will be battling it out for the front two rows.

One lap down for everyone

Here’s how it’s looking after everyone has now completed a lap.

Just over five minutes to go.

Verstappen again

The world champion is first through and he’s improved his time from Q2 by 0.3 seconds.

Norris is just behind him again, with Perez in third so far.

Q3 underway

Here we go then… will Max Verstappen make it 12 poles for the season?

How is it lining up after Q2?

Hamilton OUT

Russell knocks Hamilton out of qualifying as he edges him off the top 10 list! Another major shock here.

Hamilton – a five-time pole setter at Abu Dhabi – will start in 11th.

A disaster for the seven-time world champion.

Q2 coming to a close

Hamitlon and Rusell are both out and desperately need to post a better time, with the pair currently in the elimination zone.

Alonso is also in danger with Verstappen still clear in first.

Sainz – ‘a very bad situation’

Carlos Sainz has just been speaking after his early surprise elimination to Sky Sports.

‘It was a very bad situation we found ourselves in, leaving the pits as the last car. Also the situation with the traffic in the first and second sector, all the guys who had just finished their lap. I don’t think they got out of way very nicely but it is our fault. We had problem in the front wing which delayed us quite a bit. This has been a ticky weekend because it’s not the pace we need… It will be very difficult to secure P2 in Constructors Championship now. We need to work out what to do to get decent points tomorrow.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 25: Carlos Sainz of Spain driving (55) the Ferrari SF-23 in the Pitlane during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 25, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Who is in danger?

Ricciardo, Gasly, Albon, Ocon and Hulkenberg are currently in the elimination zone, with the latter seeing a lap time deleted.

Norris is currently second quickest, +0.180 seconds behind Verstappen.

Hamilton is flirting on the cusp of it in 10th plcae and he looks set for a second run in Q2 imminently.

Q2 heating up

Alex Albon is the first to post a time in Q2.

He’s recorded a time of 1:24.965 which is 0.7 seconds quicker than Q1 but he is on used tyres.

Interestingly both Red Bulls are on new tyres and Verstappen has gone 0.720 seconds clear

Q2 underway

Verstappen on a new set of tyres.

How is it lining up after Q1?

SAINZ OUT

Wow! What drama, Sainz can only post the 16th fastest time and he is OUT!

A torrid week for Sainz continues and Ferrari look gutted.

A few expletives are heard on the team radio.

He is suggesting people purposely blocked and delayed him in the pit zone when trying to come out for his lap.

Tense ending

Several drivers are at risk of crashing out here, with Sainz and Piastri both currently in the danger zone.

Alonso has risen up to 11th, Hamilton to eigth and Russell is now in fourth.

Piastri wil breathe a sigh of relief as he edges up to 11th.

But Sainz is only 15th and he could be out!!

And he bounces back… or he thinks so

Sargeant had bounced back by jumping up to fourth on the leaderboard.

But, oh no! He’s had his time deleted again after breaching track limits on turn one.

He’s almost certain to be out of qualifying already and he has been out-qualified by Albon, his team-mate, on every occasion this year.

Meanwhile, there is a bit of a queue in the pit lane heading out and Verstappen is not happy, which comes after yesterday’s drama.

Furstration for Sargeant

A decent lap time for the American, but it’s been deleted for breaking track limits on turn one.

ALong with Hulkenberg and Zhou, they reamian the three drivers without a time.

Poor start for Mercedes

There’s about a second between Verstappen in first and Stroll in 14th.

However, Hamitlon has come in at 13th, while Russell is ninth.

A pretty underwhelming start from the Brits…

Flying laps completed

No surprises Verstappen is currently leading, although it wasn’t his greatest lap.

He posted a time of 1:24.160, with Norris 0.208 seconds behind him and Leclerc a little bit further back.

Verstappen is out!

And we’re underway with cars on the track.

Still no action

No one seems to be in a rush to head out as we’re still without any cars on the track.

Perhaps they’re waiting for the best conditions.

A reminder there are 18 minutes in this qualifying session and it’s just ticked down into 14 minutes.

Qualifying all set to begin

We’re now just minutes away from qualfying getting underway.

Lewis Hamliton has the most poles of any driver in Abu Dhabi with five ?

Could he add to that today? His recent form doesn’t suggest so, but what a way that would be for the seven-time world champion to end what has been

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 24: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes walks in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 23, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Edmund So/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)

POLE POSITION: Mercedes continue to struggle

If you hear noise emanating from the Mercedes hospitality area here in Abu Dhabi, it is the sound of feet being stamped.

The team who once dominated the sport with serene efficiency are now in a state of meltdown. The latest example of Toto Wolff’s thin skin came when he ordered his PR operative to ask me to leave their building ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s press conference.

My chief offence, it seems, was to have questioned Wolff in the press conference in Las Vegas last week when practice was delayed. Wolff was denying the obvious embarrassment this represented at the sport’s all-new showpiece event.

Read Jonathan McEvoy’s full Pole Position column from this week below…

Verstappen and Hamilton-Russell clash

Max Verstappen reignited his rivalry with Mercedes by hitting out at ‘slow’ Lewis Hamilton and George Russell after a bizarre clash in practice which saw the Red Bull driver attempt to overtake both in the pit-lane.

An impatient Verstappen was seen weaving past rivals in the narrow pit-lane during practice at the Abu Dhabi circuit.

While plenty were left unimpressed by Verstappen’s antics, the Dutchman turned the focus around onto Hamilton and Russell who he felt were ‘silly’ in trying to ‘squeeze’ him into the wall.

Who has dominated pole position this season?

Understandably, Max Verstappen has the most pole positions in 2023, which is no surprise given he has won 18 of the 21 races.

However, he has only actually started in pole on 11 of those occasions, with Charles Leclerc fronting the grid the second most on five times.

Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz both have two poles, while Lewis Hamilton has one.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 25: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the Oracle Red Bull Racing RB19 looks on during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 25, 2023 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images)

Aguero shows off his City roots

There might be a huge Premier League game involving his former club going on right now, but Sergio Aguero is one of the many celebrities out in Abu Dhabi.

The Manchester City icon was rocking a club-themed racing gear outfit earlier today as he walked through the racing paddock.

His old City number, 10, adorned his outfit in a flourish that will bring back many memories for the club’s fans.

Rising star Norris reflects on improvements over the season

Did Hamilton enquire about Red Bull move?

The big drama in F1 this week has been surrounding Lewis Hamilton’s future.

Red Bull chief Christian Horner claimed in an exclusive interview with Mail Sport that a representative of the seven-time world champion approached his team over a potential move.

Hamilton dennied this and labelled Horner a ‘lonely stirrer’ as they exchanged a war of words.

The final weekend of a Verstappen-dominated season

It seems only yesterday that the 2023 F1 season was getting underway in Bahrain but here we are with the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi.

It’s been one-way traffic for pretty much the whole campaign with Red Bull winning all but one of the 21 races so far.

18 of those have gone to Max Verstappen, with the Dutchman lifting his third world title last month in Qatar.

They’ve wrapped up the Constructors championship too, on a whopping 822 points, but second place is still up for grabs with on Mercedes just four points clear of Ferrari on 392 and 388 respectively.

Red Bull Racing's Dutch driver Max Verstappen speaks with a technician in the pits during the third practice session for the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit in the Emirati city on November 25, 2023. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP) (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Good Afternoon

And welcome to Mail Sport’s live blog of qualifying at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Be sure to stay with us over the next couple of hours for all the action and updates as we find out who will start on pole for the final race of the 2023 season.





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