Hamilton grabs Qatar pole as Mercedes enjoys pace advantage

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Qatar, Losail International Circuitqa

Lewis Hamilton secured his first pole position since the Hungarian Grand Prix in what was another Mercedes-dominated qualifying session. Championship leader Max Verstappen finished second, edging Valtteri Bottas.

Mercedes approached the qualifying session with great confidence after its car has enjoyed a significant pace advantage over the weekend at the new F1 venue in Qatar. Defending champion Lewis Hamilton managed to capitalize on that, taking pole position for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix, with title rival Max Verstappen lining up alongside him in second.

The first qualifying segment saw the Haas drivers head out first on to the challenging, flowing Losail International Circuit. Kimi Räikkönen was the first driver to fail to get through into the second qualifying session. The Finn set a time of 1m23.159s, just beating Williams driver Nicholas Latifi and his team mate Antonio Giovinazzi.

The two Haas driver finished 19th and 20th with Mick Schumacher coming out on top of the intra-team duel. The German beat his team mate by over two seconds, but the staggering difference was mainly down to the lack of running for Nikita Mazepin. The Russian was forced to sit out yesterday’s Free Practice 2 when his team needed to his chassis following substantial floor damage. The 22-year-old driver was unable to gain experience on the Losail circuit after suffering an issue on his power controller in FP3 on his installation lap.

The second session saw an extremely close battle between the teams with only tiny margins separating the drivers. The big shock came when Red Bull driver Sergio Perez was dumped out of qualifying. The Mexican was unable to set a strong lap time on the medium compound which forced him to switch to the soft boots. However, even the red-walled tyres were not enough for the Guadalajara-born driver to progress into the final qualifying segment.

The other big loser of Q2 was Charles Leclerc, who did not find harmony with his car in the qualifying session. The Monegasque complained about the pure pace of his car on several occasions during the qualifying session, and ended up only 13th fastest.

The other drivers not to get themselves through into Q3 were Lance Stroll, Daniel Ricciardo and George Russell.

In the last qualifying session, Hamilton used the superior pace of his W12 to take the pole position for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix. The Briton delivered a strong first push lap, but his second one was a sensational effort which saw him beat his championship rival Verstappen with a margin of 0.455s.

Valtteri Bottas seemed to under-perform, and was not able to squeeze everything out of his car, ending the session behind Verstappen. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took fourth for the fourth time this year.

Fernando Alonso put his Alpine on to the third row with a clinical lap which earned him a fifth starting position. Behind the Spaniard, Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz, Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel will line up on the grid for tomorrow's Doha race.

Commenting on his pole position, Hamilton said: “I found a lot of areas in which I could improve, made some changes for P3 and it seemed to work, and then of course you've got to try and carry through into qualifying but I'm so grateful or the timings that they put us out on track, we didn't have any traffic.

“And then that last lap was beautiful. it was a really sweet lap. This track is amazing to drive, it's incredibly fast, all medium and high-speed corners. It felt good.”


144Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:21.9011:21.6821:20.82718
233Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda1:21.9961:21.9841:21.28218
377Valtteri BottasMercedes1:22.0161:21.9911:21.47820
410Pierre GaslyAlphatauri Honda1:22.5351:21.7281:21.64019
514Fernando AlonsoAlpine Renault1:22.4221:21.8941:21.67018
64Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:22.8391:22.2161:21.73121
755Carlos SainzFerrari1:22.3041:22.2411:21.84021
822Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda1:22.4581:22.0581:21.88118
931Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:22.5651:22.0121:22.02818
105Sebastian VettelAston Martin Mercedes1:22.5491:22.1461:22.78521
1111Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda1:22.3981:22.34612
1218Lance StrollAston Martin Mercedes1:22.5511:22.46015
1316Charles LeclercFerrari1:22.7421:22.46315
143Daniel RicciardoMclaren Mercedes1:22.6881:22.59715
1563George RussellWilliams Mercedes1:22.8631:22.75616
167Kimi RäikkönenAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:23.1569
176Nicholas LatifiWilliams Mercedes1:23.21310
1899Antonio GiovinazziAlfa Romeo Racing Ferrari1:23.2628
1947Mick SchumacherHaas Ferrari1:23.4079
209Nikita MazepinHaas Ferrari1:25.8599