The Brit takes a stunning pole position at the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton was one again in a league of his own as he took a breathtaking pole at the very first Qatar Grand Prix qualifying session.
Red Bull had no answer to Hamilton’s pace, with Max Verstappen almost half-a-second behind Hamilton, whose teammate, Valtteri Bottas, finished P3 ahead of Pierre Gasly, whose last-second puncture would have slowed down a few of the cars in the final lap of the final qualifying session.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso starts a brilliant fifth ahead of the lone McLaren of Lando Norris, while the only Ferrari in the top ten of Carlos Sainz starts seventh.
Yuki Tsunoda starts eighth, ahead of Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel, who rounded up the top ten.
Given the narrow track layout, qualifying was crucial, and Mercedes certainly have the advantage going into Sunday, not just with regards to track position but also with pace.
If not pole position, Verstappen would have at least wanted to start third to get a tow from the Mercedes cars, but that also didn’t work out too well for the Dutchman, and if things go smoothly on Sunday, it will be Verstappen playing catch-up again.
With his teammate, Sergio Pérez, having a shocking qualifying session, failing to make it into the top ten shootout, Verstappen has a lone battle against the Mercedes duo.
Given the fast nature of the track in Lusail, it promises to be a thrilling race on Sunday.
Qualifying Session 1 | Eliminated: Kimi Räikkönen, Nicholas Latifi, Antonio Giovinazzi, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin
It was the Haas duo of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin who got the first-ever qualifying session of the Qatar Grand Prix underway.
The first competitive timing came in from the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel with a 1:23.347s, but it was his former team Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who dislodged him from the top spot, going four-hundredths quicker.
Lewis Hamilton went P1 with a 1:22.019s, with his championship rival Max Verstappen a good two-tenths slower. Hamilton’s teammate, Valtteri Bottas, who topped both the final two practice sessions, took P1 as he went three-thousandths quicker than Hamilton with a 1:22.016s.
With just under two minutes to go, it was the Haas and Alfa Romeo duos along with Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll who were in the bottom five.
As the chequered flag fell, it was Kimi Räikkönen, Nicholas Latifi, Antonio Giovinazzi, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin who were eliminated. Hamilton, meanwhile, topped the session with a 1:21.901s.
Qualifying Session 2 | Eliminated: Sergio Pérez, Lance Stroll, Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo and George Russell
‘Mr. Saturday’ George Russell was the first one on the track for the second qualifying session. It was Russell’s future teammate, Lewis Hamilton, who went P1 again with a 1:21.682s, three-tenths quicker than Verstappen.
As the cars came out for their final flying laps, it was Lando Norris, Sergio Pérez, George Russell, Daniel Ricciardo and Charles Leclerc in the drop zone. Norris was the only one who got himself out of the elimination zone at the expense of Lance Stroll.
Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc were the shock eliminations of the session, since many expected the Red Bull driver to fight for pole.
Qualifying Session 3 | There’s no catching Hamilton
It was the Mercedes pair who were first out on the track, with Hamilton leading Bottas. The Brit went P1 with a 1:21.262s, a tenth above Verstappen, taking provisional pole in turn.
As the cars came out for their final banker laps, Hamilton went even quicker with a 1:20.827s. A late puncture to Pierre Gasly saw all cars behind Hamilton having to slow down, which saw Hamilton taking pole, almost half-a-second faster than Max Verstappen in P2.
Bottas took P3 to make sure Mercedes kept the pressure on Verstappen.
Final Starting Grid