Lewis Hamilton has clinched pole position for 2021 Qatar Grand Prix following a dominant Qualifying session as title rival, Max Verstappen joins him on the front row.
Valtteri Bottas dominated FP3 but as dusk fell on Losail International Circuit, Hamilton finally found his groove after enduring a difficult Friday as he proceeded to top all three Qualifying stages to seal pole after AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly suffered a tyre puncture.
Verstappen will line up second ahead of Bottas and Gasly with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso finding himself fifth ahead of Lando Norris on the grid in an intriguing first three rows.
Now here is a full roundup of Saturday’s action in Losail.
A quiet start to this session saw Haas send Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin out in the opening minute, only for the red flag to be waved almost immediately as Mazepin stalled just after exiting the pits with a power unit related issue after overnight chassis repair.
Once the session resumed, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon set the first benchmark time of 1m 24.864 on mediums as drivers opted for a mix of medium and soft tyre in their opening runs with Verstappen leading at the halfway mark with 1m 23.121 ahead of Hamilton and Carlos Sainz.
Bottas and Hamilton however opted to run two Qualifying simulations in the closing stages of FP3 with Bottas emerging fastest with 1m 22.310, just 0.078 seconds ahead of Hamilton as Verstappen overcame a rear wing issue to finish third fastest ahead of Pierre Gasly and Sergio Perez.
Yuki Tsunoda and Nicholas Latifi meanwhile finished tenth and 18th respectively after setting their best times of this session on the medium tyre compound, whereas everyone else set their fastest laps on the soft tyre.
|1||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||1m 22.310|
|2||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||+ 0.078|
|3||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.341|
|4||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 0.525|
|5||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||+ 0.536|
|6||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 0.738|
|7||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 0.876|
|8||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 0.899|
|9||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.966|
|10||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 1.257|
|11||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 1.401|
|12||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 1.574|
|13||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 1.585|
|14||George Russell||Williams||+ 1.613|
|15||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 1.844|
|16||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.936|
|17||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 1.978|
|18||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 2.189|
|19||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 2.370|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||No Time Set|
Schumacher and Mazepin were first out on track but Schumacher’s first timed lap was deleted for exceeding track limits, as Hamilton set the pace with 1m 22.019 after the opening fliers but was soon bettered by Bottas by 0.003s as Verstappen then posts 1m 21.996.
Upon completion of the opening runs, Latifi, Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi, Schumacher and Mazepin found themselves in the elimination zone.
Come the checkered flag, none of the bottom five could avoid elimination as Raikkonen leapfrogged Latifi to qualify 16th fastest, although Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc briefly flirted with the drop zone as Hamilton eventually topped Q1 with 1m 21.901
Williams’ George Russell was first driver back on track as a mixture of drivers opted for the soft tyre whereas others opted for mediums.
Hamilton emerged quickest after the opening runs with 1m 21.682, whilst Norris, Perez, Russell, Daniel Ricciardo and Leclerc occupied the bottom five – of which only Russell had set his time on the soft tyre as the other four all posted their lap time on mediums.
As the checkered flag waved, only Norris was able to escape elimination at Stroll’s expense despite him and the four other medium tyre runners switching to soft tyres.
Perez though was the biggest casualty which could prove instrumental in the titanic title fight between Verstappen and Hamilton, as the Mexican qualified 11th ahead of Stroll, Leclerc, Ricciardo and Russell.
Hamilton was first out on track ahead of Bottas as everyone returned to soft tyres for the opening runs of Q3, as the Brit proceeded to set the initial benchmark of 1m 21.262 ahead of Bottas by 0.216s.
Verstappen though was able to slot himself into second and 0.054s quicker than Bottas as Gasly slotted into fourth ahead of Fernando Alonso, Sainz, Norris, Tsunoda, Ocon and Sebastian Vettel.
As the checkered flag fell, Hamilton found further improvement to claim pole position with 1m 20.827 as Norris improved to sixth, just prior to yellow flags following a puncture on Gasly’s car which ruined everyone else’s final flying laps.
Verstappen post-Qualifying was issued a pre-race summons by stewards for breaching Appendix H of article 2.5.5.b of FIA Sporting Code in relation to his failure to respect double-waved yellow flags.
Bottas and Sainz meanwhile have been called to appear for stewards for failing to respect single-waved yellow flags, after the duo alongside Verstappen failed to adhere to rules following Gasly’s on-track stoppage.
Verstappen and Bottas consequently received respective five and three place grid penalties which means that they will start seventh and fifth respectively as Gasly was promoted to a front-row start in second, whilst no further action was issued in regards to Sainz.
|1||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen||1m 20.827|
|2**||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||+ 0.455|
|3*||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes||+ 0.651|
|4||Pierre Gasly||AlphaTauri||+ 0.813|
|5||Fernando Alonso||Alpine||+ 0.843|
|6||Lando Norris||McLaren||+ 0.904|
|7||Carlos Sainz||Ferrari||+ 1.013|
|8||Yuki Tsunoda||AlphaTauri||+ 1..054|
|9||Esteban Ocon||Alpine||+ 1.201|
|10||Sebastian Vettel||Aston Martin||+ 1.958|
|11||Sergio Perez||Red Bull||1m 22.346|
|12||Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||+ 0.114|
|13||Charles Leclerc||Ferrari||+ 0.117|
|14||Daniel Ricciardo||McLaren||+ 0.251|
|15||George Russell||Williams||+ 0.410|
|16||Kimi Raikkonen||Alfa Romeo||1m 23.156|
|17||Nicholas Latifi||Williams||+ 0.056|
|18||Antonio Giovinazzi||Alfa Romeo||+ 0.106|
|19||Mick Schumacher||Haas||+ 0.251|
|20||Nikita Mazepin||Haas||+ 2.703|
*Bottas received a three-place grid penalty for ignoring yellow flags and will start from sixth on the grid.
**Verstappen received a five place grid penalty for ignoring double-waved yellow flags and will start seventh.