F1 2021
Round 22

Verstappen Takes POLE In Honda's Last F1 Qualifying

ae Yas Marina

A sensational lap from Max secured a crucial pole position in Abu Dhabi after some brilliant teamwork from Red Bull Racing.

Verstappen Takes POLE In Honda's Last F1 Qualifying

The qualifying session started strongly as Max was third quickest ahead of Sergio in fourth, Yuki in fifth and Pierre seventh, ensuring all four Honda-powered cars made it through to Q2 in comfortable fashion. The second part of qualifying is when the starting tyre compounds are decided for anyone in the top ten, and there was a real split as some teams opted for mediums and others for softs.

After a lock-up on his first lap on mediums, Max advanced on the softer compound and posted the fastest time, with Sergio joining him on softs and second quickest. There was another impressive run from Yuki as he ended up making it through to Q3 and on the medium tyre to open up more strategic opportunities, but sadly Pierre was unable to overcome some car difficulties and was eliminated in 12th place.

Q3 looked set to be a tight affair but Red Bull executed a strategic plan brilliantly as Sergio gave Max a tow on the first runs in the session and Max duly went on to complete a stunning final sector as he set the pace by over half a second. Nobody could come close to him on the final attempts and he took the 90th pole position for a Honda-powered car in Formula 1, giving him the best possible starting position for Sunday’s championship showdown.

Sergio secured a second-row start and crucially, is ahead of the second Mercedes to give Red Bull further hope in the constructors’ championship, while Yuki will start from row four on the mediums after qualifying eighth on what was his ninth Q3 appearance of the season.

Toyoharu Tanabe
Toyoharu Tanabe
Honda Racing F1
This was our last qualifying, not just of the year but for Honda’s time in Formula 1. It was great therefore that it ended with Max taking his tenth pole position of the season. A truly fantastic result which was down to his own performance but also great teamwork from Red Bull Racing, as Checo gave him a tow and that meant a lot. For Scuderia AlphaTauri, it’s a shame that Yuki had his first Q3 run deleted, but nevertheless, he still finished eighth, meaning he has been in Q3 six times out of the last seven races. It proves how much his performance has improved over the course of the season and how much he has matured. Unfortunately, although Pierre put in two runs on Mediums in Q2 he got caught out by traffic and so has to settle for twelfth. But he has raced very hard all season so I expect him and Yuki to still have good races tomorrow.
As for the championship battle, we know what we have to do: Max must finish ahead of our rival. The two Red Bull Racing Hondas start on Soft tyres and the Mercedes on Medium, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. There are various possible strategies, so from a PU point of view we must be flexible in order to be ready for whatever the team decides. This is Honda’s last race in Formula 1 and we will be doing our best to win the championships, trying to ensure we can end this project with no regrets.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 33
Red Bull Racing
It’s always good to have a performance like this one today, but there are no guarantees for tomorrow, I still expect it to be a really hard battle. I originally planned to start on the mediums but I flat spotted my tyres so I had to go onto the softs, I actually felt okay on the softs during the long runs so hopefully it will work out tomorrow in the race. So far, the car has been good and throughout the practice sessions we made some good improvements to the car. I think everything worked out well, especially with Checo’s help, it was nicely executed. He’s a great teammate and a real pleasure to work with so a big thank you to him. I hope we have a good start and from there on in we can have a great race.

Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez 11
Red Bull Racing
I think our teamwork today was great, especially for Q3 and I am pleased for the Team and the result, it was very nice to see Max taking the pole. Max and I talked about the tow together and with the Team, we managed to do a great one! It is very difficult to time it, if you are too close you can hurt the other car and lose some downforce. It worked perfectly; I think if we tried it again then it is very likely it would go wrong! This weekend has been a lot of work for everyone in the Team and we have been pushing extremely hard so I am just pleased we managed to work it out. Lining up fourth on the grid is not ideal for me but that wasn’t the main thing today. I lost out on P3 in the final corner but it’s not a disaster, there is still plenty of things I can do tomorrow. My aim will be to make a difference at the front, I will try to get Lando at the start so I can support Max early on. There is still a lot we can do starting on the soft tyre; it is a long game and we don’t think the starting tyre is going to dictate too much. I think there is a great race ahead of us.

Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda 22
Scuderia AlphaTauri
It’s been a good weekend so far but I’m of course a little frustrated today, it’s such a shame about the track limits in Q3 as I think it was a good lap especially without a tow. My confidence has really returned this weekend and it shows on track, it’s the most confident I’ve felt in the car since the first race in Bahrain, so that’s really positive. I’m really pleased with my Q2 lap and it means I’ll be starting the race on the Mediums, which is a really strong position to be in. It’s definitely a good way to finish the season, with a strong Qualifying, and I just have to put it altogether when it counts tomorrow.

Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly 10
Scuderia AlphaTauri
We were just too slow for Q3 today. Since the start of the weekend we’ve struggled, I’ve been losing a lot compared to Yuki and we’ve just not managed to find a solution to this problem. The whole season we’ve been incredible in Qualifying, so we need to go away and look at the data to better understand what’s happened today and try to fix it for tomorrow. I will get to choose my starting tyre, which is for sure a positive, and we’ll see what we can do to make our way forward.

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