'I'm grateful I can see where he is': Hamilton starting second as Verstappen claims pole

Lewis Hamilton bumps fists with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. Credit: AP

Lewis Hamilton will start second on the grid in Abu Dhabi as he competes for a record eighth Formula One world championship.

Max Verstappen came flying back to clinch pole position at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a fine lap.

"Max did a great lap today, so we just couldn’t compete with that time at the end," Hamilton said of Verstappen’s fastest effort.

"It was looking really strong in practice. We couldn’t answer that lap, it was a fantastic lap from him but we are in a good position, I think, with our tyres tomorrow.

"I couldn’t beat that time he did today and he fully deserved the pole. I’m grateful I can see where he is!"

Hamilton dominated the practice sessions in his Mercedes but Verstappen, with a tow in the slipstream of Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, set an unassailable time of one minute 22.109 seconds to clinch what could prove to be the most important pole of his career.

Verstappen went into the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit tied level with defending champion Hamilton at the top of the standings.

Hamilton will at least start second, clocking a time 0.371 seconds slower as the title protagonists locked out the front row.

McLaren’s Lando Norris put in a fine display to qualify third for McLaren as Perez went fourth fastest in the second Red Bull.