Lewis Hamilton dominated the qualifying session, setting the fastest lap time in the final leg with a four-and-a-half-tenth advantage over title rival Max Verstappen in the second over.
Lewis Hamilton reached pole with a record-setting time of 1m20.827s on the new track
Lewis Hamilton dominated the qualifying session for the 2021 Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix at the Losel International Circuit as he stormed to take pole position. The Mercedes driver qualified with a time of 1m20.827 s to beat title rival Max Verstappen at Red Bull, while Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes claimed P3 in the final run. The qualifying session, however, ended in a blow for AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly, who finished in fourth place after a dramatic puncture and straight to the start of the final lap. Pole position further intensifies the duel between Hamilton and Verstappen, the latter having a 14-point advantage in the drivers’ standings. Hamilton would like to change that situation in tomorrow’s race.
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Hamilton is flying!
– Formula 1 (@F1) November 20, 2021
While Bottas was Mercedes’ fastest driver during practice, Hamilton stepped up when it mattered most. Hamilton started Q3 with a time of 1m21.262s, while Verstappen was second with a gap of 0.162s. By the final stage, the defending world champion had set up a flying lap and claimed pole with an advantage of four and a half tenths of a second. He became the first driver to set a 1m20ss time and also the first driver to claim pole at the Losel circuit, which makes his F1 debut.
While Hamilton was on his record-setting lap, Pierre Gasly ran wide on Turn 15 before the final corner and bounced on raised exit curbs. The incident raised yellow flags, which meant wasting precious time. Fortunately, Bottas and Verstappen still had enough time to finish their last laps, helping Max to improve on his time, while Bottas could not improve on his previous run. The top three drivers will now start the Qatar GP on medium tyres, and so will Carlos Sainz at Ferrari.
Meanwhile, starting from P5 Alpine’s Fernando Alonso will despite having skipped his final Q3 lap, while Lando Norris at McLaren starts from P6 ahead of Sainz. Alpha Tauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda moves from P8 to top 10 with Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel.
Sergio Perez starts from P11, after a shocking elimination in Q2, ahead of Lance Stroll at Aston Martin and Charles Leclerc at Ferrari. Both drivers showed a lack of speed throughout Q2, especially the Leclerc which only improved after switching to the soft. McLaren had a similar issue with Daniel Ricciardo ahead of Williams driver George Russell.
Alfa Romeo driver Kimi Raikkonen was eliminated in Q1 after a late stroke correction and ahead of Nicolas Latifi in Williams starts from P16. In the second Alfa car, Antonio Giovinazzi starts on P18 and overtakes the two Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
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