Hamilton takes pole position at Qatar

Lewis Hamilton was in total control in qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix to take pole position ahead of championship rival Max Verstappen.

Valtteri Bottas finished third, with the final runs in Q3 featuring Pierre Gasly, who ended up fourth position getting a dramatic puncture at the end of his final lap.

Hamilton led the way after the opening runs in the final stages with a time of one minute, 21.262 seconds, with Verstappen edging ahead of Bottas but still with 0.162 seconds gap to close.

But Hamilton, who ran at the head of the pack for the final Q3 run, put pole out of reach almost from the off on his final lap, as he smashed the fastest time in the opening sector by over 0.3 seconds.

Lewis held his advantage as he completed his run, setting a one minute, 20.827 seconds – the only driver to reach the one minute, 20 seconds as he became scored the first Formula 1 pole at the Losail track.

Behind Hamilton on the track right at the end, Gasly ran very wide out the high-speed 90-degree right of Turn 15 ahead of the final corner – the AlphaTauri bouncing over the raised exit kerbs where its front wing and left front practically exploded.

Gasly carried on around the final corner, which meant yellow flags briefly flew, but they were in before Bottas and Verstappen came around.

The former could not improve his Q3 personal best and stayed third, while Verstappen was able to go quicker but not by enough as he wound up second 0.651 seconds slower than Hamilton.

The front three will start Sunday’s main race on the medium compound after getting through Q2 on that compound, as did Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Gasly remained fourth despite his late drama, with Fernando Alonso taking fifth despite abandoning his final Q3 lap.

Lando Norris set a personal best on his final lap to score sixth ahead of Sainz, with Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top ten.

Ocon’s ninth place followed the Alpine driver complaining about severe vibrations as he braked during Q1.

In Q2, Sergio Perez was a shock elimination in P11 – the Red Bull was one of several drivers that had to abandon their plans to progress on the mediums, but his one minute, 22.346 seconds on the softs was not enough to beat Sainz’s lap on the mediums, which meant the Ferrari driver squeaked through the second segment on the preferable race tyre in P10.

Lance Stroll was P12 ahead of Charles Leclerc, who was left perplexed at his lack of pace throughout Q2.

He was slowest of the 15 runner after the opening efforts with most cars on the mediums and although he improved after taking the softs it was only good enough for P13.

Daniel Ricciardo had a similar story as he was eliminated in P14, ahead of George Russell, who completed an offset run plan in the middle segment – setting his final lap with just under five minutes remaining while the track was otherwise empty.

Although he made it a clean sweep of Q2 eliminated runners to produce a personal best on the final efforts, his one minute, 22.756 seconds eventually had him shuffled back to P15.

In Q1, Kimi Raikkonen was edged out by Stroll’s late improvement, which meant he was knocked out in P16, just ahead of Nicholas Latifi, who was the first driver to take the chequered flag at the end of opening segment and was the only eliminated Q1 runner not to set a personal best on their final effort.

Antonio Giovinazzi was P18 ahead of the two Haas cars, with Mick Schumacher leading Nikita Mazepin.

Mazepin’s difficult event continued in Q1, as his FP2 absence as he was switched to a new chassis and the FP3 red flag caused by an engine control unit problem were followed by his front wing hanging at a funny angle during the early stages.

It meant he had to pit to get it changed, the first wing dragging along the floor by its endplates due to the drop, and Mazepin eventually ended up last with a best time over two seconds slower than Schumacher’s.

So congratulations to Lewis Hamilton with a fine qualifying lap to pole position. The Mercedes W12 looks so fast and hooked up around this track. With title rival Max Verstappen on the front row, it’s going to be a fascinating race.

Qatar Grand Prix, qualifying results:
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.827
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 1:21.282
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:21.478
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 1:21.640
5 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 1:21.670
6 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.731
7 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 1:21.840
8 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 1:21.881
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 1:22.028
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:22.785
11 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 1:22.346
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 1:22.460
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:22.463
14 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.597
15 Kingdom George Russell Williams-Mercedes 1:22.756
16 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:23.156
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 1:23.213
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 1:23.262
19 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 1:23.407
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 1:25.859

3 thoughts to “Hamilton takes pole position at Qatar”

  1. Qatar Grand Prix qualifying review as reported by Formula1.com.

    Lewis Hamilton delivered one of his most dominant qualifying performances of the season to take pole position for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix, with title rival Max Verstappen lining up alongside him in second.

    The reigning world champion had the momentum heading into Q3, having been fastest in each of the previous two segments, and put himself in supreme shape after the first runs with a clinical lap.

    He was then the first to head out for the second and final runs – and found even more time, smashing into the 1m20s (the only driver to do so) to take pole position by nearly half a second from Verstappen.

    The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas slotted into third, ahead of Pierre Gasly, who had the shine taken off his stunning performance when he ran well wide at the penultimate corner. That dragged him onto a kerb, which shattered his front wing and led to a puncture.

    That forced some drivers to back out of their final results, though Fernando Alonso’s first effort was still good enough for a very impressive fifth in what is his second top-five start in the last five races.

    Lando Norris put McLaren sixth, to give them the edge in the tight fight with Ferrari for P3 in the constructors’ championship but Carlos Sainz was only a place behind for the Scuderia, as he outqualified his team mate Charles Leclerc for the third successive race.

    Yuki Tsunoda continued his great weekend in Qatar with eighth, putting both AlphaTauris in the top 10 for the fourth time in five races.

    Esteban Ocon made Q3 for the first time since Russia and will start ninth with Sebastian Vettel closing out the top 10, following his first Q3 in eight races.

    Q1 – Little to choose between Hamilton and Verstappen

    It was Bottas who went quickest early on, albeit only 0.003 ahead of Hamilton, but he was later demoted to P3 and the two title protagonists moved into the top spot.

    Hamilton had the edge over Verstappen – a gap of just 0.095s – with Sainz continuing his form as the quickest Ferrari driver around Losail with the fourth quickest time.

    His team mate Charles Leclerc put pressure on himself when his first timed lap – that was good enough for the top six – was deleted for track limits, and while he left it late, the Monegasque was able to progress with his final effort.

    Ocon reported problems with vibrations after his final run and they were still there when he headed out in the closing stages, needing a better lap to get himself out of the drop zone. He delivered the goods to progress, but the vibrations remained.

    Kimi Raikkonen just missed out on Q2 in 16th, the Finn joined by the Williams of Nicholas Latifi, the second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi and the Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

    It’s been a challenging weekend for Mazepin, who missed FP2 because a chassis change was required and started qualifying with another setback as he was forced to retreat to the pits with a broken front wing.

    Knocked out: Raikkonen, Latifi, Giovinazzi, Schumacher and Mazepin

    Q2 – Perez dumped out of qualifying, as Leclerc struggles too

    There was a mix of tyre strategies for Q2, with AlphaTauri, Aston Martin and Alpine opting for the softs – and everyone else choosing the mediums.

    Gasly made the most of the soft to go second quickest, with his AlphaTauri team mate Yuki Tsunoda seventh. Both Alpines moved into the top 10, too, with Alonso an impressive sixth. And with Vettel sneaking into the top 10, it put pressure on those on mediums to get the job done.

    Leclerc was unable to do that, and ended up 13th, a fraction behind Lance Stroll, with Daniel Ricciardo knocked out too. But the biggest casualty of the session was Perez, who was forced to dump the mediums for the softs for the final run – but as the track cooled, couldn’t find enough time and slipped into 11th and out of the session in what is a big clow to Red Bull and their strategic options for the race.

    Hamilton was quickest again, with Verstappen no better than fourth, and Bottas fifth. Norris made it through on the softs, one place ahead of Sainz, the Spaniard throwing everything at his final lap to make it through on the mediums.

    Knocked out: Perez, Stroll, Leclerc, Ricciardo, Russell

    Q3 – Hamilton pushes home advantage with clinical laps

    Having been overshadowed by team mate Bottas on Friday, Hamilton emerged in supreme shape on Saturday, having not only found some good direction overnight with the team but also feeling better after a stomach ache.

    He put himself in the best position after the first runs by taking provisional pole and then delivered a second lap that was even better. Remarkably, it gave him only his third pole in the last 16 races.

    His margin of 0.455s over Verstappen, who improved on his second lap but still did not threaten Hamilton, was the largest in a dry Q3 all year.

    With Perez having already exited qualifying, Bottas did a good job to slot into third and give Mercedes the strategic advantage on Sunday afternoon, with Gasly fourth for the fourth time this year.

    His session was tainted when he pulled off the track on the start-finish, having suffered a broken front wing and puncture at the penultimate corner.

  2. Max Verstappen has admitted Red Bull is struggling more than usual at Formula 1’s Qatar Grand Prix, after seeing rival Lewis Hamilton take pole position.

    The Dutchman has not had the smoothest of weekends, as Red Bull has been battling ongoing problems with his rear wing up until qualifying.

    But he remained hopeful that he could pull something special out of the bag to put him at the front of the grid for Sunday’s race in Qatar.

    Verstappen got within 0.095 seconds of Hamilton on the soft tyres runs in Q1, but could not extract more to overhaul his rival later on.

    Hamilton was in a class of his own in the final Q3 session, ending up 0.455 seconds clear at the top of the timesheets.

    With Red Bull’s Sergio Perez having been dumped out of qualifying in a tight Q2, despite a switch to soft tyres for a final run, Verstappen conceded that the situation was not ideal.

    “I think we are just lacking a bit of pace,” he explained. “I think it’s been just a bit more tricky for us.

    “In qualifying, you could already clearly see Checo is not even in Q3. So it just shows that we are definitely struggling a bit more than normal.

    “But nevertheless, I mean, still second, so it’s all to play for of course. But I wish we could have fought for more.”

    The high-speed nature of the Qatar track, and its lack of heavy braking zones, means that there are few overtaking opportunities, and matters will not be helped by likely low levels of degradation in the race.

    But while some think that the grand prix will be decided by the run to the first corner, Verstappen was still keeping an open mind about potential opportunities.

    “It always difficult to say because we’ve never really done a race here, so there’s a lot of unknowns,” he said. “But I don’t really think about these things too much. We just need to work on our start, and then see where we end up.”

    Verstappen currently holds a 14-point advantage over Hamilton in the title standings with three races remaining.

    Source: Motorsport.com

  3. Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he was as surprised as anyone to qualify nearly half a second faster than title rival Max Verstappen for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix – with the seven-time champ also not ruling out adopting a more aggressive approach to racing following his and Verstappen’s on-track battle in Brazil last time out.

    Hamilton could do no better than P4 across Friday’s practice running, and admitted on Saturday that he’d been suffering with a stomach ache for several days.

    But he was right into the groove as qualifying got under way under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit, with his second Q3 run seeing him improve on his provisional pole lap by a massive 0.435s – Hamilton winding up a full 0.455s quicker than Verstappen, a gap which he admitted afterwards had been a shock.

    “It was really beautiful out there today, especially under the night lights,” he said. “I didn’t know that I was going to gain as much as time as I did on that last lap – normally it’s a bit of a struggle with the second run in Q3, but the last couple of races, I managed to really put a nice clean lap together, and it felt amazing.

    “Of course [I’m surprised by the gap to Red Bull],” Hamilton added. “The same as in the last race. Probably the last three races in qualifying we’ve been ahead of them, which has been a bit of a surprise and today I definitely wasn’t expecting to have as big a gap as that.

    “I was relatively comfortable with around a tenth or so ahead through most of the session, but to be able to pull out that extra bit of time – that felt great.”

    Hamilton will now start the first ever Qatar Grand Prix on the front row alongside Verstappen, with the pair having controversially diced last time out at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

    And following a prolonged drivers’ briefing on Friday, where the two drivers’ incident was rumoured to have been a major talking point, Hamilton was asked if he would up his aggression levels in the coming races – with the stewards having also refused Mercedes’ ‘Right of Review’ request into the incident on Friday.

    “Yeah, I guess so, potentially,” said Hamilton. “I would assume so, yeah.”

    Asked what he’d taken from the drivers’ briefing on Friday, as well as how he’d approach the start, Hamilton replied: “[That] what happened in the last race is okay… It’s a fairly decent long run down to Turn 1, it’s a tail wind but nice and wide into Turn 1 so we’ll be giving it everything.”

    Hamilton’s form in qualifying was in contrast to team mate Valtteri Bottas, who’d been lightning quick in Free Practice 2 and 3, but could only manage P3 on the grid in qualifying, 0.651s off Hamilton – although he at least made Q3, unlike Verstappen’s 11th-placed Red Bull team mate Sergio Perez, giving Mercedes strategic advantages for the race.

    “It’s been a good weekend so far until qualifying for me,” said Bottas. “I felt really comfortable and strong in the car but I don’t know really what happened overnight. I could feel in FP3… I was still fastest but I really had to push a lot, I knew I couldn’t find much more.

    “In quali, I struggled quite a bit, especially in Turn 1 so I struggled to get the tyres ready, unlike yesterday evening. I need to have a look… A little bit confused what happened with the car overnight… but obviously we’ve got two cars against Max and I’m sure we can do something.”

    Mercedes currently sit 11 points ahead of Red Bull in the constructors’ standings, with Verstappen 14 points clear of Hamilton.

    Source: Formula1.com

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