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Formula One

Hamilton blitzes to crushing Qatar GP pole, Verstappen second

Photo: F1

Doha, Nov 20 (MNN) Lewis Hamilton delivered one of his most dominant qualifying performances of the season to take pole position for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix, with title rival Max Verstappen lining up alongside him in second place at Losail International Circuit.

The reigning world champion had the momentum heading into Q3, having been fastest in each of the previous two segments, and put himself in supreme shape after the first runs with a clinical lap.

He was then the first to head out for the second and final runs – and found even more time, smashing into the 1m20s (the only driver to do so) to take pole position by nearly half a second from Verstappen.

The second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas slotted into third, ahead of Pierre Gasly, who had the shine taken off his stunning performance when he ran well wide at the penultimate corner. That dragged him onto a kerb, which shattered his front wing and led to a puncture.

That forced some drivers to back out of their final results, though Fernando Alonso’s first effort was still good enough for a very impressive fifth in what is his second top-five start in the last five races.

Lando Norris put McLaren sixth, to give them the edge in the tight fight with Ferrari for P3 in the constructors’ championship but Carlos Sainz was only a place behind for the Scuderia, as he outqualified his team mate Charles Leclerc for the third successive race.

Yuki Tsunoda continued his great weekend in Qatar with eighth, putting both AlphaTauris in the top 10 for the fourth time in five races.

Esteban Ocon made Q3 for the first time since Russia and will start ninth with Sebastian Vettel closing out the top 10, following his first Q3 in eight races.

2021 Formula 1 Ooredoo Qatar Grand Prix qualifying results

POSITION                                                                                TIME

1  Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)                                       1:20.827

2  Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)                          1:21.282

3  Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes)                                          1:21.478

4  Pierre GASLY (AlphaTauri)                                             1:21.640

5  Fernando (ALONSO Alpine)                                           1:21.670

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