Verstappen takes pole position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

ABU DHABI.- Max Verstappen He took first position at the start of the grid on Saturday for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prixwhich closes the season, and will seek to cap a dominant year with its 19th victory.

A win on Sunday will take the driver of Red Bull to 54 victories in his career to surpass the former star of that team, Sebastian Vettelin third place in history.

It has been a very special season and we have enjoyed it a lot“Verstappen indicated. “Very proud of what we have achieved.”

The three-time F1 champion achieved his 12th pole position of the campaign and 32nd in his career. He will start the race ahead of Charles Leclerc of Ferrariwhich was second, and Oscar Piastri of McLarenthird.

Never bet against me“Verstappen jokingly said after qualifying, referring to a comment from the Red Bull director, Christian Horner.

Horner told Verstappen that he had won a bet of 500 euros ($547) with the team boss Helmut Marko about where the Dutchman would qualify.

You made me win 500 euros”Horner told Verstappen on the team radio after crossing the finish line.

With minutes to go, Verstappen led Lando Norris of McLaren and Piastri under the spotlight in the Yas Marina Circuit.

Norris started too late when trying to push on his last lap, that allowed Piastri to overcome it. While Leclerc jumped up the standings with a great lap, 0.14 seconds behind Verstappen.

Everything felt good, I’m very happy with the lap because I didn’t expect to be in the front row”Leclerc admitted. “It’s a good surprise.”

Behind Verstappen and company:

George Russell of Mercedes He qualified fourth ahead of Norris and Yuki Tsunoda of AlphaTauriwhich was sixth. Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin, Nico Hulkenberg (Haas), the Mexican Sergio Perez (Red Bull) and Pierre Gasly (Alpine) completed the top 10 places.

It was a bad session for Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes (11) and Carlos Sainz Jr. from Ferrari (16). Sainz failed to advance to the second part of the classification and complained about the traffic at the end of the first session. This could be very costly for Ferrari because they are fighting for second place in the constructors’ standings with Mercedes, which has four more points.

Hours before, Russell was the best in the third and final practice session.