Max Verstappen beat F1 title rival Lewis Hamilton to a crucial pole position of the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with the championship contenders sharing the front-row heading into their winner-takes-all title showdown on Sunday. 

In topping the final qualifying session of the season at the Yas Marina Circuit, Verstappen secured his 10th pole of the year to cement his position as the undisputed king over one lap in 2021. 

But how did the rest of the field fare and stack up against their teammates?

Note: This head-to-head data only includes conventional qualifying sessions - not the sprint format that was trialed at three races this year. Pole positions were not awarded for topping Friday qualifying at those three events. 

Mercedes - Hamilton vs Bottas 

Head-to-head: Hamilton 17-5 Bottas

Best result: Hamilton 1st, Bottas 1st

Poles: Hamilton 5, Bottas 4

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The poles were evenly shared at Mercedes in 2021, though the statistics are slightly skewed because Hamilton topped two qualifying sessions on weekends he was hit with grid penalties in Turkey and Brazil. He was also fastest in regular qualifying at the British GP (where pole was credited to Verstappen for winning the sprint). The same applied to Valtteri Bottas at Monza after he was hit with a grid penalty, promoting Verstappen to pole. Hamilton convincingly came out on top in the overall head-to-heads in his final year as teammates with Bottas. 

Red Bull - Verstappen vs Perez 

Head-to-head: Verstappen 20-2 Perez

Best result: Verstappen 1st, Perez 2nd 

Poles: Verstappen 10, Perez 0 

Sergio Perez proved to be no match for Verstappen over lap, with the Mexican only able to get one over on his teammate at Imola and Russia, the latter of which was when Verstappen served a grid penalty. In total, Verstappen racked up more pole positions than both Mercedes drivers combined (10). 

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McLaren - Norris vs Ricciardo 

Head-to-head: Norris 15-7 Ricciardo 

Best result: Norris 1st, Ricciardo 4th 

Poles: Norris 1, Ricciardo 0

McLaren achieved one pole in 2021 courtesy of Lando Norris’s brilliant lap in Russia. The Briton held the upper hand over Ricciardo over one lap for much of the season as his new teammate struggled to adapt to his new machinery. Ricciardo improved as the season went on, but a P4 in Belgium remained the best he could muster on a Saturday. 

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Aston Martin - Vettel vs Stroll

Head-to-head: Vettel 14-8 Stroll 

Best result: Vettel 5th, Stroll 8th

Q3 appearances: Vettel 7, Stroll 6

Sebastian Vettel outperformed Lance Stroll in every department when it came to qualifying in his first season at Aston Martin, coming out on top in the head-to-heads, claiming the outright best result of fifth in Belgium, and recording more Q3 appearances. 

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Alpine - Alonso vs Ocon 

Head-to-head: Alonso 11-11 Ocon

Best result: Alonso 5th, Ocon 5th

Q3 appearances: Alonso 11, Ocon 10

Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon ended their first year together as teammates as Alpine on level terms when it came to qualifying. Both secured a top-five starting berth on one occasion, but Alonso just edged out Ocon in Q3 outings. A commendable effort over one lap from Ocon against the two-time world champion. 

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Ferrari - Leclerc vs Sainz 

Head-to-head: Leclerc 13-9 Sainz

Best result: Leclerc 1st, Sainz 2nd 

Poles: Leclerc 2, Sainz 0

Charles Leclerc is regarded as one of the best in the business over one lap, but Carlos Sainz ran him close in his debut season as a Ferrari driver. Leclerc grabbed the one lap headlines with back-to-back poles in Monaco and Baku, but Sainz was also impressive and out-qualified Leclerc four times in the final five rounds. 

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AlphaTauri - Gasly vs Tsunoda

Head-to-head: Gasly 21-1 Tsunoda 

Best result: Gasly 4th, Tsunoda 7th 

Q3 appearances: Gasly 18, Tsunoda 9

Pierre Gasly took advantage of AlphaTauri’s electrifying one-lap pace to become a star performer in qualifying. The Frenchman only failed to make Q3 four times as a result of his remarkably consistent Saturday showings. Yuki Tsunoda saved one of his best laps until the end to prevent Gasly from claiming the only qualifying whitewash of 2021. Gasly nevertheless ends the year with the best head-to-head record against a teammate. 

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Alfa Romeo - Giovinazzi vs Raikkonen 

Head-to-head: Giovinazzi 13-7 Raikkonen, Giovinazzi 2-0 Kubica 

Best result: Giovinazzi 7th, Raikkonen 12th 

Q3 appearances: Giovinazzi 4, Raikkonen 0 

He may have ultimately lost his F1 seat, but Antonio Giovinazzi consistently held the upper hand against Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying. He was the only Alfa Romeo driver to reach Q3 in 2021 and his best result was five positions higher than what Raikkonen could achieve. 

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Haas - Schumacher vs Mazepin 

Head-to-head: Schumacher 20-2 Mazepin 

Best result: Schumacher 13th, Mazepin 18th 

Q2 appearances: Schumacher 2, Mazepin 0 

There was no doubt about who held the edge in qualifying at Haas, with Mick Schumacher dominating his fellow rookie teammate Nikita Mazepin. The only times Schumacher was bettered by Mazepin came when he failed to take part in qualifying in Monaco and Hungary following hefty crashes in final practice. 

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Williams - Russell vs Latifi 

Head-to-head: Russell 20-2 Latifi 

Best result: Russell 2nd, Latifi 12th 

Q3 appearances: Russell 4, Latifi 0 

Dubbed F1’s ‘Mr Saturday’, George Russell certainly lived up to his nickname as the Williams driver regularly starred across 2021. Four Q3 appearances and stunning laps in Belgium and Russia were the highlights of an impressive season. However, Russell finally lost his unbeaten qualifying record as Nicholas Latifi got the better of his teammate in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. 

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