Max Verstappen closed the 2020 Formula 1 season with an effortless victory for Red Bull Racing over Mercedes at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Dutchman took his first pole in more than a year and deftly converted P1 on the grid into a comfortable three-second lead in the first 10 laps.

Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were powerless in pursuit, the Mercedes duo holding their starting positions off the line but unable to make inroads on the Red Bull Racing car as it gradually escaped into the distance.

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Max Verstappen sensationally snatched pole position from Valtteri Bottas for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, thwarting a sweep of 2020 qualifying sessions by Mercedes power units.

Verstappen pinched pole from the Finn by just 0.025s but without setting a purple sector at any split. It’s the first pole for the Red Bull Racing driver since last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix, and it makes Honda the first engine manufacturer other than Mercedes to start from the head of the grid this season.

The Dutchman dedicated his third career pole to his team at the end of a grueling season during which the RB16 has at best inconsistently matched the Mercedes for pure pace.

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Max Verstappen will head into the final Formula 1 qualifying session of the year with the fastest time of third practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The Red Bull Racing driver’s best time came on his second run on a set of soft tires in the final five minutes, lowering the benchmark to 1m36.251s, the fastest lap of the weekend so far.

It was enough to beat teammate Alex Albon by half a second, the Thai driver improving late despite complaining of extreme understeer through the session. Renault teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon followed 0.65s off the pace, both similarly finding time towards the conclusion of final practice.

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Valtteri Bottas resumed control of the time sheet for Mercedes in the crucial evening practice session at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which was briefly interrupted by a fire that struck Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.

The Finn went fastest with a lap of 1m 36.276s ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was 0.203s adrift. Both drivers set their best laps on the medium tire. Bottas wrote off his soft lap with a twitchy moment through the first turn, while Hamilton had a time that would have been good enough to top the session by 0.2s deleted for exceeding track limits out of the final corners.

Max Verstappen was third quickest for Red Bull Racing, the Dutchman also on the medium tire. He too was on track to lead the session with the soft compound after setting a purple first sector and a personal best time at the second split, but he was held up by slower cars on long-run simulations in the final sector, ruining the lap.

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Max Verstappen put Red Bull Racing on top for first practice at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Dutchman used the soft tire in the second half of the session to set the benchmark at 1m37.378s, usurping Mercedes’s Valtteri Bottas by 0.034s.

Renault’s Esteban Ocon and Alex Albon in the second Red Bull Racing car were more than 1.1s off the pace in third and fourth.

Lewis Hamilton, returning to the paddock after missing last weekend’s Sakhir Grand Prix with COVID-19, was fifth fastest and 1.3s adrift after missing much of the first half of the session with a brake master cylinder problem.

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