LUSAIL, Qatar – Lewis Hamilton kept the pressure on Max Verstappen in the fight for the Formula 1 title with a dominant victory Sunday in the Qatar Grand Prix at the Losail Int’l Circuit.
Hamilton started from the pole and was unchallenged throughout the race, leaping into the lead at the start and going on a comfortable cruise at the front of the field. He eventually finished more than 25 seconds clear of Verstappen at the checkered flag.
The victory for Hamilton makes the Losail Int’l Circuit the 30th different race track on which he’s won a Formula 1 Grand Prix.
“It’s been a hell of a year so to be at this point of the season and have back-to-back wins is a great feeling,” said Hamilton after his 102nd career victory. “It was a pretty straight forward race for me, a little bit lonely but of course, we needed those points, so a really solid job by the team. A big thank you to everyone trackside and back at the factories for all their hard work. I’m really grateful for these points and it’s amazing to be able to close the gap so much in the last two weeks. We’ve still got our work cut out, but we’re loving such a close battle and the challenge that it brings. It was a real shame for Valtteri today, having to retire, but the pace was good this weekend and that puts us in good stead for the next two races. We’ll be bringing our triple a-game for those.
Verstappen, meanwhile, was originally slated to start second but was penalized for not slowing down during during double yellow flags in Saturday’s qualifying session. He instead started seventh, but he made quick work of those in front of him and was up to second in quick fashion.
Despite his quick run through the field, Verstappen was no match for Hamilton, who narrowed Verstappen’s championship lead to eight markers with two races left in the season. Verstappen gained one slight advantage on Hamilton by setting the fastest lap of the race, which gave him an extra bonus point.
In third was Alpine’s Fernando Alonso, who scored the first podium since his return to Formula 1. Alonso and Alpine utilized a one-stop strategy, which allowed him to finish third ahead of a charging Sergio Perez. A virtual safety car period with three laps left likely saved Alonso as Perez was closing quickly on fresh tires. The podium was Alonso’s first in seven years.
Perez was forced to settle for fourth as a result, with the second Alpine entry of Esteban Ocon taking fifth. Lance Stroll was sixth for Aston Martin, followed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc, McLaren’s Lando Norris and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.
The second Mercedes entry driven by Valtteri Bottas retired from the race after a puncture resulted in a shower of sparks on the track.