F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix LIVE: Max Verstappen starts ahead of Lewis Hamilton

MAX VERSTAPPEN’S Red Bull team are confident he can win the F1 world title after pipping Mercedes to pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix STARTING NOW.

Lewis Hamilton will be next to him on the front row after stopping the clock marginally slower.

Fellow Brit Lando Norris will be third on the grid for today’s finale.

The pair are level on F1 driver’s championship points going into the final race of the 2021 season with 369.5 points apiece.

The pair appear relaxed ahead of the race, but Hamilton was forced to deny he is SCARED of his rival.

Verstappen said: “I make him nervous if he sees me in his mirrors. He’s a different driver to me, less aggressive.”

And when quizzed if Hamilton was afraid of him, Verstappen replied: “He will never admit that. At least I’m not afraid of him!

“He doesn’t know how to race like I do. I can’t blame him for that either, because he was never able to learn that like I did from my father.”

  • Grand Prix start time: 1pm UK (5pm local) today
  • Grid: 1 Max Verstappen 2 Lewis Hamilton 3 Lando Norris 4 Sergio Perez 5 Carlos Sainz 6 Valtteri Bottas


Stay up to date with all the latest from Yas Marina in our live blog…


    Toto Wolff has not held back ahead of the race when discussing Mercedes’ plans with Hamilton.

    “We are going to go massive attack. Whatever the strategy is, whether it’s a one stop or a two stop, we are going to be on his tail if we are second.

    “There is just one way to go and that’s forward. That’s a tricky bit [into Turn One]. Lewis is the best to know how to position the car that it doesn’t end up with mayhem in Turn One.”


    Ten minutes until the start of the race, where these two title protagonists will fight for the title.

    The two men are on level points as Hamilton is in his cockpit while Verstappen is putting on his balaclava and helmet.


    The Red Bull boss is raring to go as he looks to cap off an incredible year with Verstappen being crowned champion.

    He said: “We’re just pumped up for this race, it’s been a hell of a year. Max has been mighty all year, and we’re just going to do exactly what we’ve done for every other race, and try and enjoy it.

    “Sergio is going to be going for it. He did a wonderful job for us a team player yesterday, he’s done brilliantly this year as well. We’re not giving up anything in this championship, both are still open.”


    Patrice Evra gatecrashed Martin Brundle’s grid interview with UK rapper Stormzy by belting out his catchphrase ‘I love this game!’

    Brundle has also bumped into Usain Bolt and Chris Gayle on a packed-out grid.


    Red Bull and Max Verstappen may be forced into a two-stop strategy.

    Pirelli have predicted their soft tyre will last only 15 laps, meaning Verstappen will be forced to pit.

    Nico Rosberg said: “I was just speaking to the Pirelli boss Mario Isola, who of course has all the data.

    “He said it’s going to be quite short on that soft tyre, because it will only last 15 to 20 laps. If that is the case, then that’s quite a worry for Red Bull.”

    Jenson Button added: “They’re strategy is very limited.

    “Lewis starting on the medium tyre, he has every opportunity. It’s a tricky one – though I’d still rather be on pole position with the soft tyre.”

    Rosberg adds: “Max has track position and that’s a big, big thing. But Lewis on the medium does have a big chance today in the race.”


    The two superstars will battle it out in just a matter of minutes as Red Bull and Mercedes throw everything at this race.

    The former Renault driver and BBC 5 Live pundit said: “It feels like a boxing match at the moment – two contenders heading into the ring.

    “Hopefully we get a great race today to conclude what I think has been the best Formula 1 season I have ever witnessed.”


    Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have now stepped into their cars as they make their way to the starting grid.

    All the distractions are now out of the way as the engines roar and you get your first feel of the car on race day as they prepare for their reconnaissance laps.


    There will be 19 cars on the grid today after Nikita Mazepine has been forced to withdraw from the race after testing positive for Covid-19.

    No penalties have been issued since qualifying, meaning there are no other changes to grid.


    For all seven of his world titles, Hamilton has NEVER started on pole in the race which has seen him clinch the championship.

    So he is all too familiar to being on the back foot when the pressure is on.

    Credit: Alamy

    He said: “We’re feeling good. Let’s see what the tyres do in the race but we’re confident they will be decent. A lot of things can happen in the race in terms of strategy but at least it’s the right tyre for the start.

    “The start is important but also the rest of the race, a lot of things can happen and I really expect a tight battle. I’m looking forward to it.”


    Lewis Hamilton waves to his adoring British fans as he stands alongside his title rival Max Verstappen.

    He said: “So many British flags here! The support we have here is always great. This is a beautiful place for us to have a race.

    “I just need to be me on the track and assess the situations around me as composed and with the best energy and intentions as I can, and give it everything.

    “I believe in my guys, we will be giving it everything we have.”

  • Former world champions have their say:

    Jenson Button:

    “Formula 1 is amazing when it’s at its best, it really is. Normally we have six-seven-eight races that are exceptional and the rest are good. Whereas this year they have all been exceptional: there has been action on and off the track. Drivers, team principals; that’s why. 

    “Even people who don’t watch Formula 1 I think will be tuning in today to watch the showdown.”

    Nico Rosberg:

    “Max yesterday under all that pressure, the way he delivered such a miraculous lap that he pulled out in qualifying to give Lewis almost four tenths, was so strong. It was really greatness.

    “Now Lewis trying to fight back today from second on the grid, the race is going to be phenomenal to watch.”

  • Max Verstappen will begin the race on the soft tyres, despite wanting to start on the medium tyres.

    He was forced onto the softs after a lock-up saw him damage a set of mediums. Meaning his soft tyres will degrade faster than Lewis Hamilton’s medium tyres.

    So we expect Hamilton to take the fight to Verstappen early on in the race, to force his Dutch rival to put his soft tyres under pressure, rather than nursing them round the track.

  • Calm before the storm…


    Cocky Max Verstappen taunted bitter F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton by saying: He’s afraid of me, writes BEN HUNT.

    Red Bull’s Verstappen struck a hammer blow by snatching pole position for Sunday’s world championship decider in the Abu Dhabi desert.

    The Dutchman, 24, vowed to continue driving aggressively, says he makes the seven-time world champ “nervous” and claims he is the better driver.

    Verstappen said: “I make him nervous if he sees me in his mirrors. He’s a different driver to me, less aggressive.”

    And when quizzed if Hamilton was afraid of him, Verstappen replied: “He will never admit that. At least I’m not afraid of him!

    “He doesn’t know how to race like I do. I can’t blame him for that either, because he was never able to learn that like I did from my father.”


    Haas driver Nikita Mazepin won’t take part in the F1 finale in Abu Dhabi today after testing positive for Covid-19.

    A statement issued via the team’s official Twitter account said: “Due to a positive COVID-19 test result, @nikita-mazepin will not compete in today’s AbuDhabiGP.

    “There will be no replacement driver in accordance with article 31.1 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, which prohibits any driver from starting the race who has not taken part in at least one practice session.”

    However, his absence won’t have a dramatic impact on proceedings as he’s failed to win any points this season and sits bottom of the World Driver’s Championship table.


    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has declared that Michael Schumacher will always be the greatest F1 driver to grace the sport.

    Lewis Hamilton could overtake Schumacher’s record of seven world titles today if he beats Max Verstappen for the F1 title in Abu Dhabi.

    But the Brit still won’t be ahead of Schumacher in terms of what the German done for the F1, Wolff claims.

    He told BILD: “Nobody will ever be greater than Schumi.

    “Even if the statistics show Lewis at the front…Michael shaped a generation like no other. He is iconic.

    “You cannot make comparisons across generations. Lewis is the greatest of his generation.”


    Hamilton and Verstappen will need to be at top speed in the F1 Abu Dhabi GP title decider today as a point is given for the fastest lap.

    One championship point is awarded to the driver with the fastest lap of any Formula One Grand Prix.

    But only if they finish in the top 10 positions of a Grand Prix race.

    This is to avoid a driver who is at the back of the field giving up on winning a race but hanging back in order to set the fastest lap.

  • F1-2-3

    Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are LEVEL on Championship points going into the final race of the season on this weekend.

    The two drivers are separated by eight points going into the last race of the season with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix the last race of the 2021 season.

    The season has seen casual fans finally switch back on to motorsport after dominant spells from the likes of Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel before him, following Michael Schumacher’s epic era of dominance.

    But it can be confusing how the scoring works for each F1 race.

    How does F1 point scoring work?

    Points are awarded on a sliding scale for a Grand Prix victory, with first place taking 25 points and the rest of the field to 10th place scoring.

    • 1st place – 25 points
    • 2nd – 18 points
    • 3rd – 15 points
    • 4th – 12 points
    • 5th – 10 points
    • 6th – 8 points
    • 7th – 6 points
    • 8th – 4 points
    • 9th – 2 points
    • 10th – 1 point
    • 11-last – 0 points

    Lewis Hamilton says he is feeling a lot better than when he was last fighting for the title on the final day of the season – back in 2016, when he lost out to team-mate Nico Rosberg.

    Hamilton said: “I feel a million times different. It’s a much different scenario.

    Completely different, and a million times better now than then. I feel good.

    “It is not something I want to go into. I am just in a different place in my life than back in 2016.”

    “I am facing a different resistance in life and this time I’m just in a different and much happier place.”


    Lewis Hamilton insisted slipstream qualifying should be outlawed, after Max Verstappen got behind team-mate Carlos Sainz to post the quickest lap time of 1min 22.109sec.

    The Brit said: “We’ve never, ever done that.

    “I like Valtteri Bottas to focus on the best job for himself to have both of us as high up as possible.

    “It’s never something we discuss and I don’t believe it should have been done.

    “The last two laps weren’t easy, I definitely can’t complain, but we wish we were a bit quicker today.

    “Max did a great lap. We just couldn’t compete with that time, we couldn’t answer that. It was a fantastic lap and so he fully deserved the pole.”


    Verstappen, 24, will benefit from better pace off the line, he could be reeled in by Hamilton in the race as the Dutch star will have to pit first, meaning he may hit traffic when he emerges from the pits.

    Verstappen said: “I felt good on both tyres.

    “In Q2 I had my flat spot on the mediums, so had to go out on the softs again.

    “But the car felt pretty decent in those final two laps.

    “It should be a bit cooler tomorrow, so it should be easier for the soft tyres, but we will see.”


    Toto Wolff reckons Lewis Hamilton will be fine on the medium tyres during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

    Wolff said: “I’d much rather be starting on the medium tyres.

    “Lewis will be angry and that is good ? motivated for tomorrow to hunt Max down.

    This is a long race and this is Lewis Hamilton in the car.”


    Lewis Hamilton reflected on a minor mistake during yesterday’s qualifying session that set his quick car back, writes BEN HUNT.

    A rare mistake, when he locked up in Turn One, causing a flat-spot on his rubber, forced his team to switch to soft tyres for the remainder of the session. F1 rules state that drivers have to start the race on the same set of tyres they set their quickest lap in Q2.

    And Hamilton, 36, said: “We’re looking strong.

    “If the soft tyres have the degradation we think they will, we will be in a good place.

    “I’m on the front row and I prefer the battle.

    “We’ve got the difference between the tyres and I’m grateful I can see where he is.” F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix LIVE: Max Verstappen starts ahead of Lewis Hamilton


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