Once more into the breach, dear friends.
For the last time of the 2023 season, the Formula 1 grid is ready to come to life. The season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is just around the corner and there is no shortage of storylines. From the battle for second, fourth and seventh places in the Constructors’ Championship to the ongoing speculation over Logan Sargeant’s F1 future, there is still a lot to be decided.
That means today is a big day as qualifying starts in a few hours. We’ll take care of it all live for you, from notes on the last practice session of the season to the qualifying itself. Can Mercedes or Ferrari put themselves in a position to secure P2 in the constructors’ standings? Can McLaren hold off Aston Martin in the final week of the season? Who will emerge in the four-way battle for seventh place at the back of the grid?
Qualifying starts at 9am Eastern, so come back early and often!
(All updates in Eastern time).
Update 10:10: Here are the results of the qualification:
Update 10:06: As a reminder, these are preliminary results because…
Update 10:01: Verstappen takes pole again, yadda yadda yadda.
Here are the top ten:
Update 10:00: A slip from Norris opens the door and teammate Piastri rushes in. Norris is currently in P3, with Piastri ahead of him in P2.
But then Leclerc crashes the party, putting him in P2.
P5 for Yuki Tsunoda for the time being, with a P7 for Hülkenberg for the time being.
Update 9:59: The two-minute warning has sounded at Yas Marina. Until the finish here. Norris is in his push round and is purple through the first sector.
Update 9:57: It’s showdown time, as the drivers line up for their final push laps of the session.
Update 9:55: The first qualifying runs have been posted by all ten drivers. Here is the current order:
Update 9:53: Strength from McLaren in the early showing as Norris is in P2, followed by Piastri in P3. Leclerc is only in P8, and McLaren’s main competition at the moment for P4 among the constructors – Alonso – is in P7.
Update 9:52: Verstappen turns purple through Sectors 2 and 3 and sets a good time for P1 early in Q3. Norris comes in behind him, followed by Tsunoda and Hülkenberg. Less than eight minutes remain in Q3.
Update 9:51: Now Russell has joined the fight.
Update 9:50: Q3 has officially started. Only Russell is in the pits, while the other nine drivers are on the track.
Update 9:48: The final pole position of the 2023 F1 season is up for grabs.
Here is the classification of Q2:
Update 9:47: For those keeping track (and if you’re here, that probably means you) Hamilton starts in P11, Sainz in P16.
Remember that only four points separate Mercedes and Ferrari in the battle for second place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Update 9:43: The ten drivers who advanced to Q3, in order:
Update 9:42: These are the five drivers eliminated in Q2: Hamilton, Ocon, Stroll, Albon and Ricciardo.
Update 9:41: Hamilton is eliminated from Q2 and dumped in the drop zone as his teammate crosses the line in P4.
Update 9:40: Leclerc and Hülkenberg crash that top five party, with Leclerc moving to P3 and Hülkenberg to P4.
Hülkenberg then sees Gasly, Pérez and Tsunoda jump in front of him. Still very good pace from the Haas, and ahead of Albon, which could be crucial if Haas tries to chase Williams in the standings.
Update 9:37: Three minutes to go in Q2 and here are the top five:
Two Red Bulls, two McLarens and a Williams.
As we all predicted.
Update 9:31: The first times come in during the second quarter. Verstappen is at the top of the time list, followed by Russell, Tsunoda, Stroll and Hamilton in the top five.
Update 9:27: What about AlphaTauri? Not only did the team place both drivers in Q2, but Tsunoda also finished Q1 third, behind the Red Bull duo. An impressive start for the team chasing Williams for P7 in the Constructors’ Championship.
Update 9:26: Here are the results from Q1:
Update 9:20: A bit of a surprise, because Carlos Sainz Jr. is disabled in Q1. Magnussen, Bottas, Zhou and Sargeant are the other five eliminated drivers.
Update 9:16: Sargeant goes to P4 with a blast of a lap, but the time is removed. With two lap times deleted, he still has to set a time and there are only two minutes left in Q1.
Update 9:14: How big will the evolution on the track be during qualifying?
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Update 9:13: Shaky times for Aston Martin. Both Stroll and Alonso are near the bottom of the field after the first few runs, with Stroll in P14 and Alonso in P15. The team is just 11 points behind McLaren in the battle for fourth place, but they will need to pick things up to give themselves a chance today.
Update 9:10: Zhou and Hülkenberg also see their lap times removed.
Update 9:09: Just under ten minutes remain in Q1. Here are your current top five:
Update 9:08: Williams driver Logan Sargeant has had his first lap time of Q1 scrapped for exceeding track limits.
Update 9:05: Those of you seeing the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – and the layout at Yas Marina – for the first time will notice two very unique features. The first is the Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel, which is located above the circuit and bridges the circuit between Turn 18 and Turn 19.
The other one, which just said F1TV, is the pit lane. It is located under the circuit and the drivers enter the circuit via a tunnel.
Update 9:04: More than three minutes have passed in Q1 and no one has taken to the track yet. The evolution on the track is huge in Abu Dhabi, and with temperatures dropping, the teams are waiting to get everything right.
The Red Bulls were eliminated first, led by Verstappen.
Update 9:02: For those of you – like me – who are already lamenting the end of the season: F1TV has a fact that should cheer you up.
Things are less than 100 days away from getting underway for the 2024 F1 season. Pre-season testing starts on February 21, 2024 in Bahrain.
Update 9:01: This isn’t the exact Magnussen clip I talked about below, but this is great too:
Update 9:00: Qualifying is underway for the last time this season.
FP3 and pre-qualification notes
Update 8:55: F1TV just showed the most wholesome clip of Kevin Magnussen’s eldest daughter Laura helping the Haas driver put on his gloves and then closing his visor.
I’ll try to add that here when it pops up on social media, as I’m sure it will.
Update 8:45: As for the battle for fourth place: F1TVs Jolyon Palmer notes that Las Vegas was an “anomaly” for McLaren, and that both Norris and Piastri are in much better form this weekend.
Update 8:44: “It’s going to be a very exciting and tough battle,” Ferrari reserve driver Robert Shwartzman told Will Buxton. F1TV of the battle between Ferrari and Mercedes.
Update 8:37: During the pre-qualifying show on F1TVAlex Brundle and Sam Collins discuss qualifying simulation pace.
Although Red Bull still tops the simulations, based on data from PF2, there is some concern about Red Bull and Max Verstappen. As you can see from the PF3 results, Verstappen was only sixth, leaving many wondering if Red Bull might fall behind in the field today.
Update 8:10: Could this be Mercedes’ day?
George Russell topped the timesheets in FP3, followed by McLaren duo Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.
With Mercedes locked in a tight battle with Ferrari for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, a Russell pole would be huge for the Silver Arrows.
Here are the results from FP3: