Max will make his 10th career front-row start at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, while Alex is set to start from P5 on the grid following a tight qualifying session that saw the Bulls finish third and sixth respectively.
Both will advance up the grid, however, when second-placed qualifier Valtteri Bottas drops down the grid due to an engine penalty.
Lewis Hamilton set the pace in Q1 with the Mercedes driver claiming top spot thanks to a time of 1:35.851 that put him 0.3s ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas in the final minutes of the session. At that point Max was in P3 having posted a lap of 1:36.390 on his first flying lap.
Alex, meanwhile, was sitting in sixth place and 1.4s off the pace after a cautious opening run and in the final stages of the session he opted to make another attempt. This time the Thai driver was straight into the groove and his time of 1:36.102 was good enough to split the Mercedes at the top of the order. Alex thus progressed to Q2 in P2 with Max through in P4.
The first run of the session was also a tricky one for Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. The German was winding up for his first attempt but as he dropped the power out of the final corner to begin his lap he lost control and spun on the pit straight. He recovered and eventually put in a solid lap to finish in P6 behind fourth placed teammate Charles Leclerc and Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez who jumped out of potential danger in the closing stages.
There was no escape, however, for Haas’ Romain Grosjean who was eliminated in 16th place ahead of Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Räikkönen and the Williams cars of George Russell and Robert Kubica.
In Q2 Hamilton again set the pace with a lap of 1:35.634 set on medium tyres. His choice of compound was mirrored by his team-mate and by Max and Alex. However, in the opening runs both Ferrari drivers ran with soft tyres.
2019 Abu Dhabi Qualifying Stats:
- 10– Career front-row starts for Max Verstappen. Max qualified third but a penalty for Vallteri Bottas means Max will start in P2.
- 3 – Thanks to Bottas’ penalty, Alex will start from P5 for the third time in his career. The previous occasions were in Mexico and Brazil.
In the final runs the Bulls and both Mercedes backed out of their laps so that their opening times would stand as their best to allow them to start on mediums. Ferrari, however, split their drivers, with Vettel progressing the softer compound as Leclerc vaulted to the top of the times with a lap of 1:35.543 set on medium tyres. With Hamilton in P2 ahead of Bottas and soft-shod Vettel, Max made it into Q2 in P5 with his opening lap of 1:36.275. Alex, meanwhile, went through with a time of 1:36.718 that saw him finish in P7 behind McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, who also used the softs for his best lap.
Eliminated at the end of the session were 11th-placed Sergio Pérez, followed by Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, the second Racing Point of Lance Stroll, the second Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat and the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
Hamilton reasserted his dominance in Q3 however with a final run time of 1:35.779 that put him beyond the reach of his rivals. Bottas got closest, taking P2 just under two tenths of a second behind his teammate, while Max qualified in third place, 0.164s further back. Bottas, though, will drop back to P20 on the grid tomorrow due to a double change of engine ahead of the weekend and thus Max will start from the front row.
Behind the top three in the session Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel qualified fourth and fifth for Ferrari, despite Leclerc missing out on a final lap as he failed to cross the line before the chequered flag. That left sixth place to Alex, though the Thai racer will start from fifth once Bottas’ penalty is applied.
Lando Norris qualified in seventh place for McLaren, with Daniel Ricciardo eighth ahead of the second McLaren of Carlos Sainz. The final top 10 place went to Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg.