Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen they qualified first and second, respectively, for the first Qatari Grand Prix, leading to a showdown between the two championship contenders at the very start of Sunday’s race.
Hamilton won the 102nd pole of his career, fourth of the season and the first since the Hungarian GP in August. Verstappen outscores him by 14 points in the drivers’ championship with three races remaining.
Surpassed Verstappen by 0.455 seconds to win pole at the Losail International Circuit. The seven-time champion said he felt a sickness in his stomach since his arrival in Qatar, but a good night’s rest helped him recover.
Hamilton said stomach pain hampered his first qualifying day at the new circuit and he finished fourth in both practice sessions.
“I really had problems in the first practice, I felt bad,” said Hamilton. “I was here until midnight working with the engineers, who always work late, and I found several areas where I can improve”,
Mercedes made changes to final practice on Saturday and Hamilton said qualifying was helped by a smart strategy of hitting the track with little traffic and a strong lap.
“That last lap was beautiful, really a beauty,” said Hamilton. “This track is extraordinary, it is incredibly fast. It felt good”.
Verstappen said Red Bull lacked pace and noted that teammate Sergio Perez failed to advance to the final qualifying group. The Mexican will start in 11th place.
“It was a bit more of a problem for us in qualifying,” said Verstappen. “More difficulties than normal. We never raced here, so there are many unknowns. “
The race is the first in a 10-year agreement between F1 and Qatar.
Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes, was third, followed by Pierre Galsy with Alpha Tauri. Gasly was fast all weekend, but a tire puncture near the end slowed him down.
Fernando Alonso was fifth, followed by Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz.