Sebastian Vettel
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Drove the last qualifying session of his career: Sebastian Vettel. © Hasan Bratic/dpa

World Champion Max Verstappen grabs pole position in Abu Dhabi. Sebastian Vettel fights. Before retiring from the Formula 1 stage, he finished ninth in the hunt for a starting place.

Abu Dhabi – After a moment of shock, world champion Max Verstappen secured the last pole position of the Formula 1 year. The Red Bull driver relegated his teammate Sergio Perez to second place at the Yas Marina Circuit. Verstappen was 0.228 seconds faster than the Mexican on his seventh pole of the season.

Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen secured his seventh pole position this year. © Hasan Bratic/dpa

Directly behind is Ferrari man Charles Leclerc (+0.268 seconds), who is fighting for runner-up in the World Championship with Perez. The rivals are tied before the final act. “It should be exciting with ‘Checo’,” said Leclerc about his duel with Perez.

Vettel races towards the end of his career

In the last qualifying session of his Formula 1 career, Sebastian Vettel gave his all again in the Aston Martin. The 35-year-old made it to a strong ninth place. He is tackling points in his 299th and last career race. “It was a bit emotional before qualifying,” admitted Vettel. “But I’m sure tomorrow will be a great day.” His father Norbert waved wistfully at the fans from the garage.

“We were a little shocked when the car suddenly stopped,” Verstappen described a problem with his Red Bull that initially prevented him from exiting for the final laps. “We got everything under control after all.”

After the team order Zoff a week ago in Brazil, Verstappen even tried to help his teammate this time. “Max also did a great job for me,” praised Perez, who had recently received no help from the Dutchman. In Abu Dhabi, despite being in the slipstream of Verstappen, the Mexican was not enough for first place on the grid with the best time.

Mattia Binotto: “Bravo, Seb”

Mick Schumacher fought his way into the second round in his last Formula 1 qualification for Haas. There, the 23-year-old, who had to leave the US racing team after two years at the end of the season, retired in 13th place. His teammate Kevin Magnussen, who was 16th, did not survive the first round.

Vettel experienced the next surprise on the day of his last qualification. On the team terrace, his former racing team Ferrari presented him with a Scuderia bonnet signed by his Italian companions. “Bravo, Seb,” said team boss Mattia Binotto, who had dismissed Vettel by phone in the Corona summer. The German drove for Ferrari from 2015 to 2020, but failed to reach the world championship goal.

Vettel in the Aston Martin did not want to retire prematurely in the hunt for a starting position. Despite heavy traffic, the 35-year-old survived the tight first knockout round with an excellent final lap. In the second period he felt held up by Perez, but fought his way into the decisive round with fervor.

As expected, Vettel could not keep up with the top teams. While the Red Bulls secured the front row in front of the two Ferraris and Silver Arrows, Vettel slipped further back. “I hope we can put in a strong race,” said Perez. “It should be interesting.”

The title decisions in Formula 1 were made long before the final act on Sunday (2 p.m. / Sky). Verstappen has clinched his second world championship, his Red Bull racing team is the design champion. dpa

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