F1: Red Bull put team controls behind them as Max Verstappen leads Abu Dhabi qualifying one-two

Following the drop in orders for their team in Brazil as Perez seeks to snatch second place in the F1 Drivers’ Championship from Charles Leclerc, a strong unity front was put in place at the Yas Marina circuit on Saturday.

Early races suggested the Mexican had the bit between his teeth and he led his team-mate after the Q2 qualifying session by half a second, but reigning world champion Verstappen made his dominance known throughout the season to take pole position by a quarter of a second.

“Q2 was a bit messy, I couldn’t hold on – Q3 was a bit more normal,” said the Dutchman.

“We had a little scare, the car went out before the first run so we had to restart everything.

“Both laps were pretty good, so very happy with that. Very happy for that but also very happy that both cars are on the front row. Of course we want to win the race, but we also want to finish second with Checo at the championship, so it’s a really good start for tomorrow.

Perez only needs to beat Leclerc in Sunday’s race to seal second place in the standings, but he will have Leclerc and the other Ferrari, of Carlos Sainz, right behind him on the grid.

“It’s good to lock down that front row, Max has done a great job for me as well,” he said. “We worked together as a team very strongly on this last round.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff described their comeback from Brazil glory as “a toilet day” after Lewis Hamilton and George Russell struggled to finish fifth and sixth respectively.

Sebastian Vettel, in his last F1 race, stormed through Q1 and Q2 in the Aston Martin before sealing an impressive ninth place on the grid.

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