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11 Dec, 2021 16:01

Verstappen clinches pole for F1 title decider with Hamilton

Verstappen clinches pole for F1 title decider with Hamilton

Max Verstappen has taken pole position for the F1 title-deciding Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi as he seeks to wrestle the world championship from Lewis Hamilton.

Vying for a maiden world championship crown, Verstappen clocked a stunning lap time of 1:22.109 at the start of Q3 on Saturday with help from Red Bull teammate Serio Perez.

Sacrificing his own lap, the Mexican gave him a straight-line speed advantage.

"Oh yes!" roared the 24-year-old Verstappen on the team radio as pole was confirmed at the Yas Marina circuit.

"Didn't expect that one but amazing job guys!"

Finishing in second 0.371 seconds behind Verstappen, defending champion Hamilton could do nothing but tip his hat.

"That was a fantastic lap from him," accepted the Brit. "We just couldn't compete with that time."

Level on 369.5 points, the rival pair will start on the front row together on Sunday with seven-time ruler Hamilton of Mercedes trying to surpass Michael Schumacher in the all-time championship stakes.

A strategy twist to the final meeting of the 2021 F1 season however is that they will start on different tires, with Verstappen on soft and Hamilton on medium.

This came after the former was forced into switching to softs during the second session after locking his breaks and subsequently damaging one of his medium tires, which defines the starting tire for the main event.

"I felt good on both tires," said Verstappen. "In the evening, it is a bit cooler so a bit easier for the soft tires.

"We will see tomorrow," he stressed, paving the way for what is certain to be a thrilling finale if the twists and turns of the past few weeks are anything to go by.

Separated by just a single win, Verstappen (9) clinched two consecutive GPs in the US and Mexico before Hamilton (8) embarked on a trio of victories in Brazil, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.  

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