Lewis Hamilton claimed the pole for the Qatar Grand Prix. (LAT Images Photo)
Lewis Hamilton claimed the pole for the Qatar Grand Prix. (LAT Images Photo)

It’s All Hamilton In Qatar Qualifying

LUSAIL, Qatar – Lewis Hamilton continued his pursuit of Max Verstappen in the Formula 1 standings by earning the pole for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix at the Losail Int’l Circuit Saturday.

The Mercedes driver turned in a stunning lap during Q3 that put him nearly half a second clear of Verstappen in second. Hamilton delivered a 1.20.827 lap, while Verstappen could only muster a top lap of 1:21.282. The championship contenders will start on the front row alongside each other for Sunday’s race.

“I’m very happy with that qualifying session. Yesterday was difficult for me, I wasn’t feeling well on Thursday or Friday and then struggled in practice. So, I had to dig deep, I was here late last night working with the engineers and we found a lot of areas to improve,” Hamilton said. “I felt fantastic today and slept very well last night, which made a big difference. We made some changes for FP3 and it seemed to work, and I was able to carry that into qualifying. That last lap was just beautiful, this track is amazing to drive and very fast, all medium and high-speed corners. In terms of the race, we don’t have much experience at this track, but I don’t think it will be the easiest of circuits to follow. It’s also not massively degrading the tires so it could be a one or a two stop, we’ll find out tomorrow. It’s a decent run down to Turn 1 and it’s nice and wide, so we’ll be giving it everything.”

Verstappen admitted the gap to Hamilton is larger than he would like it to be heading into Sunday’s race. Verstappen enters the Qatar Grand Prix with a slim 14-point edge on Hamilton in the driver standings.

“It’s been a bit of an up and down weekend so far, I was happy in quali but just not quick enough. I thought I had quite a decent lap but then heard the gap difference and I was a bit shocked, it’s been really difficult to match them. In a way I’m happy to be second but the gap to Lewis is very big. Qualifying has been more of a struggle for us over the past few races so we definitely need to have a look into it. I don’t expect miracles tomorrow but we are on a new track and a lot of things can happen, we never give up. It’s very quick around here so it will be difficult to follow, it also depends on what tires we will be on and those around us. I’ll try to do the best I can, as always.”

The second Mercedes driven by Valtteri Bottas qualified third while AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly continued his impressive weekend by qualifying fourth. Alpine’s Fernando Alonso turned in a strong performance in fifth, followed by McLaren’s Lando Norris, Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr., AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.

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