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Hamilton claims Qatar pole position 4 tenths clear of Verstappen

Bottas 3rd, Gasly 4th

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By Olivier Ferret

20 November 2021 - 16:10
Hamilton claims Qatar pole position (...)

Lewis Hamilton beat title rival Max Verstappen to pole position for the Qatar Grand Prix with Valtteri Bottas third as Mercedes outpaced Red Bull by a considerable margin at Losail International Circuit. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took fourth place on the grid despite suffering a front wing failure on his car at the end of his final lap of Q3.

In Q1, Hamilton set the early pace with a lap of 1:22.019, with Verstappen slotting into second place, just over two tenths of a second off the pace of the Mercedes driver. Perez meanwhile found himself sixth after the early ruins thanks to a lap of 1:23.224. However, as better times came in he began to slip down the order and with six minutes remaining he was in 12th place.

He bounced back soon after, jumping to fourth place with a lap of 1:22.398, but Verstappen was also on track and the Dutchman took P1 and became the first driver under 1m22s thanks to a lap of 1:21.996.

At the other end of the order Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen was the first man eliminated in P16 and he exited ahead of Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, who missed out on a final run, the second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, and the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.

Hamilton also put in a late flyer to nudge Verstappen out of 1:21.901 and the Dutchman went through in second place ahead of Bottas and Sainz who also made a late improvement to push Perez down to fifth place.

In the first runs of Q2 Hamilton set the pace with a lap of 1:21.682 and while Verstappen initially slotted into P2 he was edged out by Gasly who posted a time four hundredths of a second quicker than the Dutchman’s 1:21.984. Perez, though, was struggling and at the end of the first runs he was languishing down in 12th place. He was sent out on soft tyres for the final runs.

But despite the softer compound the Mexican again struggled for pace and though he set two personal best times in the opening two sectors, he flagged in the final third of the track and was unexpectedly eliminated in 11th place.

He wasn’t the only usual frontrunner to be ruled out of the top 10 shootout, however. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was eliminated in 13th behind Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo exited in P14 ahead of the Williams of George Russell.

At the top of the order Hamilton took P1 with his first run time ahead of Gasly with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in an impressive third place. Verstappen therefore progressed in fourth spot with his medium tyre time of 1:21.984. Also through to the final segment were Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in sixth ahead of Tsunoda, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, Norris and Sainz.

Perez’s unexpected exit left Verstappen as the only Bull in the final top-10 shootout. And though the Dutchman pushed hard, he couldn’t match the pace of Hamilton whose final lap of 1:20.827 was good enough to secure pole by 0.455s ahead of Verstappen.

Valtteri Bottas took third place for Mercedes, with Pierre Gasly an excellent fourth for AlphaTauri, although the Frenchman had a scary moment at the end of his lap when he hit the kerbs hard in Turn 15. His front wing collapsed and the debris punctured the AlphaTauri driver’s front right tyre. He did well to hold the car before grinding to a halt on the pit straight.

Fernando Alonso was fifth for Alpine ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz. Yuki Tsunoda will line up in eighth place ahead of the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon and the final top 10 position was taken by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel.

Pos.DriverTeamQ1 timeQ2 timeQ3 time
01 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes W12 1:21.901 1:21.682 1:20.827
02 Max Verstappen Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:21.996 1:21.984 1:21.282
03 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes W12 1:22.016 1:21.991 1:21.478
04 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:22.535 1:21.728 1:21.640
05 Fernando Alonso Alpine Renault A521 1:22.422 1:21.894 1:21.670
06 Lando Norris McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:22.839 1:22.216 1:21.731
07 Carlos Sainz Ferrari SF21 1:22.304 1:22.241 1:21.840
08 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri Honda AT02 1:22.458 1:22.058 1:21.881
09 Esteban Ocon Alpine Renault A521 1:22.565 1:22.012 1:22.028
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:22.549 1:22.146 1:22.785
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
11 Sergio Pérez Red Bull Honda RB16B 1:22.398 1:22.346
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Mercedes AMR21 1:22.551 1:22.460
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari SF21 1:22.742 1:22.463
14 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren Mercedes MCL35M 1:22.688 1:22.597
15 George Russell Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:22.863 1:22.756
---------------- --------------- ---------- ---------- ----------
16 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:23.156
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams Mercedes FW43B 1:23.213
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Ferrari C41 1:23.262
19 Mick Schumacher Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:23.407
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas Ferrari VF-21 1:25.859

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