Lewis Hamilton has secured the first-ever Formula One pole position at the Losail Circuit in Qatar this afternoon.
Taking off behind him will be the Red Bull of Max Verstappen in second and next in line, the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in third.
Speaking after Qualifying, the pole sitter said; “Yesterday was a really difficult day for me actually. Thursday and Friday I wasn’t feeling too well and so really struggled throughout practice. I was just off yesterday so really had to dig deep.
“I was here until midnight last night working with the engineers, who also always work so late, they’re such hard workers, and found a lot of areas which I could improve.
“Made a lot of changes for P3 and it seemed to work. Then of course you’ve got to carry that through to qualifying, but I’m so grateful for the timings they put us out on track, we didn’t have any traffic.
“Then that last lap was beautiful. It was a really sweet lap.”
Hamilton added: “I had a bit of a stomach ache from Wednesday but felt fantastic today. I slept well last night so that makes a big difference.”
Charles Leclerc set an early fastest lap this afternoon moving to the front of the field for Ferrari – however, his teammate quickly pushed him out of the top spot with his lap in 1:23.323.
Lewis Hamilton headed out on track early on to set a decent leading pace in 1:22.019.
Max Verstappen’s early laps saw a deficit of two-tenths of a second behind his closest rival.
Valtteri Bottas’ opening effort saw him land in fourth behind Lando Norris .- 0.9s off Hamilton.
After his second attempt, however, he squeezed ahead of Hamilton, by just 0.003s on older soft tyres.
Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly were in fourth and sixth and were performing extremely well on the new circuit.
With four minutes to go, Verstappen moved out front and was the first driver to enter the 1:21s.
He finished his lap in 1:21.996, 0.020s ahead of Bottas.
By the end of Q1 the following drivers were eliminated:
16. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
17. Nicholas Latifi, Williams
18. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
19. Mick Schumacher, Haas
20. Nikita Mazepin, Haas
Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest lap in 1:21.682 with his teammate Valtteri Bottas following across the line three-tenths behind.
Moments later, Gasly crossed the line to go second fastest – two tenths off Hamilton – followed by the Red Bull of Verstappen a further tenth back.
The Alpines and both Alphatauris were all in the top seven – as their great performance in Q1 continued into Q2 – even more surprisingly, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was in P15 with 6 minutes to go.
The Monegasque driver was 0.9s off his teammate Carlos Sainz, and told the team he doesn’t know where he’s going to find improvements.
With the final laps underway, Norris, Perez, Ricciardo, and Leclerc were all on the soft tyres for their flying laps but they would need sufficient times to be released from the drop zone.
When time rant out, the five drivers who didn’t make the Q3 cut were:
11. Sergio Perez, Red Bull
12. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin
13. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
14. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
15. George Russell, Williams
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In the final shootout this afternoon, Hamilton set the fastest lap for provisional pole, followed by his teammate Valtteri Bottas, only to be split moments later by the Red Bull of Max Verstappen who was just one-tenth off the lead.
With time swiftly running out, Hamilton was four tenths up on his own original benchmark through the first sector alone – setting a time that would ensure pole by the end of the session.
Meanwhile, disaster struck Gasly after he endured a puncture on the main straight – thankfully his previously set time was enough to ensure P4 for tomorrow’s race.
Valtteri Bottas will take off in third tomorrow, behind the Red Bull of Max Verstappen after their final flying laps this afternoon.
The top ten results at the end of the session were:
1. Hamilton, Mercedes
2. Verstappen, Red Bull
3. Bottas, Mercedes
4. Gasly, AlphaTauri
5. Alonso, Alpine
6. Norris, McLaren
7. Sainz, McLaren
8. Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
9. Ocon, Alpine
10. Vettel, Aston Martin
Speaking to Sky after the session, Max Verstappen said; “We’re just lacking a bit of pace. It’s been just a bit more tricky for us again in qualifying.
“Checo is not even in Q3 so it definitely shows we are struggling a bit more than normal. But nevertheless it’s still second, so it’s all to play for.
“But I wish we could have fought for more.”