Lewis Hamilton soared to pole position, building a half-a-second gap to Max Verstappen in second place for the Qatar GP tomorrow.
The F1 circus took the green light for the first ever qualifying session in Qatar, the drivers competing under the lights for pole position.
The two Ferrari drivers, headed by Carlos Sainz, initially topped the timing sheets with a 1:23.323. However, Lando Norris became the first driver to enter the 1:22 zone and claimed the fastest time. This was only for a brief moment as Lewis Hamilton soared past the McLaren driver, setting a 1:22.019.
Max Verstappen crossed the line behind Hamilton, posting a lap 2 tenths slower than the Mercedes. Bottas jumped to 5th, almost a second slower than his teammate, and Pierre Gasly managed 3rd fastest.
Bottas responded to Hamilton’s blistering opening lap by going 3 milliseconds quicker, making the new best lap a 1:22.016. However, Verstappen bettered this to set a 1:21.996. With under 5 minutes left of Q1, the top 3 were separated by 0.023 seconds.
George Russell scraped through in 15th to Q2, with Latifi missing out in 17th. Both Alfa Romeo drivers were eliminated, with the Haas drivers Schumacher and Mazepin to take up the final row on the grid on Sunday.
Hamilton, his car fitted with medium tires, posted a 1:21.682, setting the first top time of Q2. Pierre Gasly opted for the soft and slotted in 3 tenths behind the Mercedes driver. Verstappen followed milliseconds behind, with Bottas only 7 milliseconds adrift of the Dutchman. Sergio Perez’ first lap in Q2 was 9 tenths slower than Hamilton’s time and put him outside the top 10.
Charles Leclerc faced trouble in Q2, reporting on the radio that he was unsure of why he is so far off the pace. Following his first flying lap, he was 1.4 seconds off Hamilton’s 1:21.682.
Ferrari’s rival McLaren also struggled to find pace in Q2, both drivers more than 9 tenths off the pace and out of the top 10.
The final flying laps rolled around. Carlos Sainz only managed 8th fastest, in danger of elimination behind. Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo crossed the line for their final attempts to get into Q3 but both were disappointed as they remained over 7 tenths off the pace.
Another shock and a huge blow to Red Bull’s championship bid was Sergio Perez failing to scrape through into Q3. He was just one tenth off Sainz in 10th, but is now forced to start outside the top 10 in Sunday’s race.
Lewis Hamilton’s benchmark for his title contenders was a 1:21.262. His teammate Bottas was quicker in the first sector, but lost time in the second and final sector to cross the line 2 tenths off the Briton. Max Verstappen set the quickest first sector, but could not beat Hamilton in the final 2 and clocked a lap just a tenth and a half slower.
Pierre Gasly was the best of the rest in the opening flock of flying laps, just under 4 tenths slower than Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton was the first to leave the pits for his final run to attempt to extend his provisional pole time. The seven-time champion set a blistering lap of 1:20.827. Bottas and Verstappen were right behind to take pole position away.
However, disaster struck for Pierre Gasly. The Frenchman sustained a puncture after having his front wing ripped off by the curbs of turn 15 and limped down the main straight.
Verstappen improved on his time, but only managed to get just within half a second of Hamilton’s soaring pace. Bottas was unable to improve his lap, trailing his teammate by around 6 tenths of a second.
Despite the puncture, Gasly still kept 4th fastest, with Alonso just shy of him in the Alpine. Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz, Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel made up the remainder of the top 10.
|2||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+0.455|
|10||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+1.958|
|11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||-( 1:22.346 Q2)|
|12||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||-( 1:22.460 Q2)|
|13||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||-( 1:22.463 Q2)|
|14||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||-( 1:22.597 Q2|
|15||George Russell||Williams||-( 1:22.756 Q2)|
|16||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||-( 1:23.156 Q1)|
|17||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||-( 1:23.213 Q1)|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||-( 1:23.262 Q1)|
|19||Mick Schumacher||Haas||-( 1:23.407 Q1)|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||-(1:25.859 Q1)|