Verstappen takes the first non-Mercedes powered pole of the year, Norris records McLaren’s best Yas Marina qualifying result since 2012 and AlphaTauri reach Q3 with both cars for a third consecutive race. Here are the facts and statistics from qualifying at the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!
VERSTAPPEN ON POLE
Max Verstappen took pole position for the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, making Red Bull the first non-Mercedes powered team to take pole this season. This was Verstappen’s third pole position and his first at the Yas Marina Circuit. He is the sixth different driver to take pole position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since it joined the calendar in 2009.
Verstappen secured Red Bull’s first pole position since the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix, and their first at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2013. In total, this was Red Bull’s fourth pole at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Becoming the 63rd driver to have recorded at least three career poles, Verstappen recorded Red Bull’s 63rd pole position. He has now taken three poles with the team – the same number as Daniel Ricciardo scored during his time at Red Bull. Red Bull now have 63 poles and 63 wins – but only 41 of those wins have been recorded from pole position.
Verstappen’s pole is the first pole position for Honda power at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Only Mercedes and Renault powered cars had previously taken pole here. This was Honda’s 80th pole position in Formula 1, becoming the fifth engine manufacturer to reach the milestone. They are the first manufacturer to record an 80th pole since Mercedes did so at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009.
With Verstappen taking pole position, the 2020 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be the 100th race in which a Red Bull driver will line up on the front row.
This was the third time that pole position has been decided by 0.025 seconds. Alain Prost took pole by the same margin at the 1989 French Grand Prix, as did Jenson Button at the 2009 Monaco Grand Prix.
Pole was decided by 0.025 seconds – one thousandth of a second less than pole was decided by last weekend at the Sakhir Grand Prix. Strangely, the previous two rounds (the Turkish and Bahrain Grands Prix) had pole margins which were within one thousandth of one another.
This was the closest ever qualifying session at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The previous smallest pole margin at the Yas Marina Circuit was 0.031 seconds, which is the margin by which Sebastian Vettel took pole in 2010.
THE TOP TEN
For the first time since 2013, Mercedes failed to set the fastest two times in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Valtteri Bottas qualified on the front row, while Lewis Hamilton set the third fastest time. It’s the first time Bottas has out-qualified Hamilton at the circuit since 2017.
Mercedes have reached Q3 with both cars at every race in 2020, making it the eighth time that a team has achieved the feat. Mercedes are the first team to have achieved the feat three times, and also become the first team to do it in two consecutive seasons.
Lando Norris equalled his career-best qualifying result with fourth place. The result ensured that McLaren’s qualifying battle in 2020 is the only one to end in a tie, with both Norris and Carlos Sainz out-qualifying each other on pace on eight occasions.
Norris’ fourth place is the first time that a McLaren driver has qualified in the top four at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since Lewis Hamilton took pole position at the 2012 race.
This was the first time since the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that both McLaren drivers have qualified in the top ten.
Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat both qualified in the top ten for AlphaTauri, making this the first time that both of the Red Bull junior team’s cars have reached Q3 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Prior to 2020, Toro Rosso had recorded four Q3 appearances at the track. This is the first time since the end of the 2008 season that both AlphaTauri (Toro Rosso) drivers have reached Q3 at three consecutive races.
2020 is the first time that Kvyat has reached Q3 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2015, and the first time that Gasly has done so in his F1 career.
Kvyat’s seventh place is the second-best ever qualifying result at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for the Red Bull junior team. The best result for the team was fifth in 2014, also recorded by Kvyat.
Forced to start from the back due to a power unit penalty, Sergio Perez failed to reach Q3 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for a third successive year. On the other side of the Racing Point garage, Lance Stroll qualified in the top ten at the Yas Marina Circuit for the first time in his career.
Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc, Alexander Albon and Lando Norris all maintained their 100% Q3 appearance record at the Yas Marina Circuit. They’re currently in a group of seven drivers in that club, alongside Felipe Massa, Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg.
OUT IN Q2
With Esteban Ocon eleventh and Daniel Ricciardo twelfth, neither Renault driver qualified in the top ten for the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix. Renault failed to reach Q3 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with either car for the first time since 2016. Ocon out-qualified Ricciardo for the first time since the Styrian Grand Prix.
This was the first time since the Spanish Grand Prix that Ricciardo has not reached Q3, ending a ten-race streak of top ten qualifications. It’s also the first time he has not reached Q3 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2012, and the first time in ten appearances at the circuit that he has been out-qualified by a team-mate.
Sebastian Vettel failed to reach Q3 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for the first time since 2015. This was his first Q2 exit at the Yas Marina Circuit. It was Ferrari’s 60th Q2 exit since the system was introduced in 2006.
For only the second Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2015, Antonio Giovinazzi ensured that Alfa Romeo (formerly Sauber) would make a Q2 appearance at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. In the past five years, 2018 – when both cars reached Q2 – is the only other time that the team have made it out of Q1 at the event. This is the first time Giovinazzi has reached Q2 at two consecutive races since the 2019 Mexican Grand Prix.
OUT IN Q1
Haas recorded their first double Q1 exit at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Kevin Magnussen seventeenth and Pietro Fittipaldi nineteenth.
For the third year in a row, Williams recorded a double Q1 exit at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This was only the second time that Williams have recorded double Q1 exits at two consecutive races in 2020. Nicholas Latifi equalled his worst qualifying result of the season, qualifying 20th for the seventh time.
With George Russell qualifying in eighteenth place, ahead of Haas’ Fittipaldi, this is the first time since 2017 that Williams have not set the slowest two times in qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. The blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics.
Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.