Red Bull’s Max Verstappen (Evens Race Winner) managed to strike the first blow in the title decider against Lewis Hamilton (11/10) as he claimed pole position at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix ahead of the Mercedes ace and Lando Norris (25/1) of McLaren.
Verstappen and Hamilton are tied on points heading into the final race of the season, with Sunday’s race a winner-takes-all battle.
If neither finishes Sunday’s showpiece, Verstappen (Evens Drivers’ Championship Outright) will be crowned champion as he has one more win than his British rival.
The Dutchman managed to ease the pressure on Saturday, though, as he finished 0.371 seconds ahead of the Mercedes driver after a stunning first qualifying lap at Yas Marina.
Hamilton (5/6 Drivers’ Championship Outright) managed to improve as the qualifying session progressed, but he ultimately failed to get close, although he did lock down a place on the front row.
Verstappen’s team-mate, Sergio Perez, finished in fourth, while Carlos Sainz Jr and Valtteri Bottas claimed fifth and sixth, respectively.
Charles Leclerc, Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo completed the top ten, and F1 fans look set for a thrilling final day on Sunday.
Tyre strategy will prove crucial in the race, with Verstappen on the soft and Hamilton on the medium, but he has played down any suggestions he will have an advantage due to his selection.
He told reporters: “It’s an amazing feeling. Incredibly happy with this. It is, of course, what we wanted, but it is never easy, especially with their form recently.
“I felt good on both tyres. In the evening, it is a bit cooler, so a bit easier for the soft tyres. We will see tomorrow.”