For Honda's final season as engine supplier, the manufacturer has given Red Bull an all new power unit under the bonnet of a car that shares much with its 2020 predecessor. But despite the similarities "under the skin the RB16B features plenty of changes", Red Bull said.
Formula 1 2020: Racing Point's Sergio Perez bids tearful farewell after engine failure wrecks Abu Dhabi GP
"It is sad to be leaving the team this way," said Perez, who said he retained hopes of staying in Formula One with Red Bull, if they chose him as a replacement for Alex Albon.
The Dutch driver edged Valterri Bottas in second and the Finn's Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who is racing for the first time since winning the championship after contracting coronavirus, in third for Sunday's Grand Prix.
Formula 1 2020: Red Bull's Max Verstappen fastest ahead of teammate Alexander Albon in final practice for Abu Dhabi GP
Verstappen led Albon by .5 seconds and Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo by .63. Ricciardo is competing in his last race for Renault before joining McLaren next year and has two third-place finishes this season.
Formula 1 2020: Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley to miss Bahrain GP after testing positive for COVID-19
The vastly-experienced key pit-wall decision-maker returned a positive test during mandatory pre-race tests and will be isolation for 10-days in line with the sport’s protocols and public health guidelines.
For Racing Point's Lance Stroll, this was the first pole position of his Formula One career. His teammate Sergio Perez was third.
Formula 1 2020: Alexander Albon advises officials to define track limits after struggling in Emilia-Romagna GP qualifying
In a topsy-turvy qualifying session, the under-pressure Albon grabbed sixth place on the grid with a last-gasp lap on soft tyres after his first run on mediums was disallowed.
The previous record for races in a season stands at 21. Twenty-two races were slated for 2020 but the pandemic reduced that to 17.
Albon has struggled for consistency in his second year in Formula One with Red Bull after a mid-season switch from Toro Rosso last year, his rookie season.
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes seek to continue their record-making progress as Formula One escapes in search of some autumnal sunshine at this weekend's Portuguese Grand Prix.
"I don’t think we need to be in on Fridays," said Lewis Hamilton.
Formula 1 2020: Drivers brace for white-knuckle weekend in Tuscany as Mugello circuit readies for debut
The spectacular Mugello circuit is normally used for MotoGP and some junior categories of single-seat car racing – but has never before hosted an F1 Grand Prix.
Verstappen clocked a best lap in one minute and 43.744 seconds to outpace the Australian by 0.048 seconds, leaving championship leader Lewis Hamilton down in third for Mercedes, 0.096 adrift of the pace-setter.
It was Hamilton's fourth pole of the year and fifth in Spain and brought with it his 150th front row start from a session that may have seen Mercedes enjoying their 'party' qualifying engine mode for the final time.
Formula 1 2020: Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton compares Pirelli tyres to balloons after blistering problems
Hamilton said he was glad to have survived the race without a puncture and to have found some pace to claim second at the finish.
Formula 1 2020: Lewis Hamilton’s Styrian GP pole position lap was out of this world, says Mercedes boss
Hamilton, whose third pole in Austria extended his F1 record to 89, recognised it had been special and that even the smallest lapse in concentration could have had potentially major consequences.
Vettel won all his F1 titles with Red Bull during a highly dominant spell from 2010-13. Red Bull have not confirmed their drivers’ lineup for next season.
Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn says Sebastian Vettel is bound to be distracted by Ferrari axe
Vettel, a four-times world champion with Red Bull, qualified only 11th at the Red Bull Ring and then tangled with McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in the race, finishing 10th for the final point on offer.
Hamilton was also quickest in both practice sessions on Friday, finishing ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas in all three.
Other teams were caught cold by the innovation, with Red Bull claiming in their protest that Mercedes' DAS is both an aerodynamic and a suspension device.