The final qualifying session of 2023 is in the books and here are all the headlines.
Max Verstappen took pole once again and it was a result that would have delighted Christian Horner for more than one reason.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris were both less than thrilled with their sessions.
Christian Horner gets one over on Helmut Marko
It takes a brave, or perhaps foolish, man to bet against Max Verstappen but it seems even his biggest fan was not confident he could get pole in Abu Dhabi.
Speaking over the team radio, Horner revealed that one Helmut Marko now owed him some money.
“Well done mate, you’ve just won me €500 off Helmut, which is like getting blood out of a stone,” a delighted Horner told Verstappen over team radio.
“So, fantastic job!”
“Huh, Helmut lost a bet?” Verstappen replied. “What world are we living in?”
“Exactly! The bet was for you to be on the front row mate,” Horner responded.
Fernando Alonso rages against FIA interference with qualifying
F1 veteran Fernando Alonso used to love qualy but was rather dismayed to see it become the “worst session” in his eyes.
After more queuing in the pit lane and track limits, Alonso was only too happy to have a go at the FIA.
“Exits did not help or make things worse,” Alonso told media including PlanetF1.com. “It didn’t change much, but it proves that the qualifying format is obsolete.
“This session used to be the best session of the weekend where the cars, they come alive.
“You drive these very fast cars and now it’s the worst session of the weekend. For the teams, for drivers, for traffic management, for track limits.
“Going to the stewards, not respecting the delta, impeding people, deleting the laps. We are all happy that it’s over and it shouldn’t be like that.”
Carlos Sainz’s dark forces
Conspiracy or just driver error? That was the question after Carlos Sainz suffered a surprise Q1 exit in Abu Dhabi.
Speaking over the team radio afterwards, Sainz suggested there was foul play by some of his peers.
“Between us drivers, we know that if you do a corner two seconds in front of another car, you’re going to make me lose a tenth or two in the corner,” he stated layer on.
“When it’s tight in Q1 and Q2, I see people giving a bit of third gear on purpose in some corners to maybe make the others lose some time in corners, which we don’t consider impeding because it’s not like you need to lift, but you’re giving him dirty air and you’re giving him a bad run in that corner.
“So by going out last, I made everything basically [in] all sector one and two very close to all the cars in front and I found myself losing a tenth or two.”
Potty mouth Lando Norris rages against qualy result
It is not often you hear Lando Norris sewer but such was his disappointment at missing on a potential pole, he could not help himself.
The McLaren driver labelled his qualifying as “s**t” ahead of his P5 start on Sunday.
When asked if his mistake would linger in his mind, he added: “I don’t know. If it was for P1, maybe, but I don’t think I would have been P1 – but you never know.
“If you just make any mistake in qualifying when you’re fighting for a good position, it’s frustrating, but the thing is I just make so many mistakes on a Saturday at the minute.
“Every other lap was some of my best really, Q1, Q2 was my one of best laps, my first lap in Q3 was very strong. Just this one little mistake I don’t even know why it happened, I’ve not done that all weekend so it’s just frustrating because I’m just doing a shit job on Saturday.”
Lewis Hamilton happy to see back of the W14
When Lewis Hamilton eventually hangs up his gloves, the W14 will not be a car he looks back fondly on.
Having completed his last qualy run in it, Hamilton is looking forward to moving on.
Asked whether he’s relieved to have completed his last qualifying session with the W14, he answered “I wouldn’t say that I’m relieved. I’m definitely happy it’s nearly over.
“It’s more inconsistent than ever before. It’s just up and down.
“Per corner – from the moment you hit the brakes, the moment you turn to the moment you hit the apex, it’s massively out of balance and very hard to predict what’s going to happen.
“The tyres were fine, it was just the car.”