Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has described Max Verstappen’s F1 qualifying performance in Abu Dhabi as ‘phenomenal’ after securing pole position.

Verstappen stormed to his third career F1 pole as he beat Valtteri Bottas to top spot by just 0.025s.

It was Red Bull’s first pole position since Brazil last season and the first non-Mercedes powered pole of the campaign.

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“So many times this year we’ve had that third-place seat, Max actually took it home with him at the press conference on Thursday,” Horner said. “He’s just strung together a brilliant lap at the end there. It’s so tight, less than a tenth between the top three cars.

“He was gutted to miss out last week and to put that lap here, to get that pole, it’s a phenomenal performance.”

Horner admits Verstappen continues to surprise him as he expected third to be the height of Red Bull's ambitions on Saturday.

“You know you can bank on him. You know he’s going to give it everything. He can always surprise you and he’s done that today. Going into that qualifying I thought P3 looks comfortable. You can see the reaction what it means to the team and the team have worked their nuts off this year.

“We’ve had 9 out of the 10 fastest pit stops of the season. They’ve been remarkable. Again, Honda with the reliability that they’ve shown - they’ve just got to get through tomorrow. Everybody has worked so hard this year and as a team, it epitomises everything when you see it come together like that.”

Alexander Albon is set to start the race from fifth place and Horner thinks he will be able to make gains in the opening laps as he’s set to start on the softs, while the top three is on mediums.

“He’s going to be quick at the start,” Horner added. “I think Alex has done a decent job in the quali. It’s as close as he’s been, certainly in the last four or five races. I think the race pace on the soft versus the medium, it hasn’t quite got the distance but it has the pace early on. If he has a good start then he can play a role in tomorrow’s race.”