Qatar qualifying saw Lewis Hamilton take pole for the first time since Hungary and for only the second time in 16 races.
Lewis Hamilton Pole
It was an emphatic session for Hamilton, beating title rival Max Verstappen to pole position by 0.455 seconds. That is the largest margin at the top all season in dry qualifying.
Since 2010, the pole sitter at a new circuit has gone on to win the title, positive omens for Hamilton fans?!
The 1-3 secured for Mercedes is expected to be the best possible outcome. With a similar start to Mexico, Bottas and Hamilton being on the same side of the track, giving Verstappen no slipstream is deemed the perfect scenario. Obviously this is the first race in Qatar so that is all still guesswork.
The advantage we know they have over Red Bull is the two cars against one after a disappointing day for Sergio Perez. The Mexican didn’t even make Q3 despite a run on the soft tyres.
More importantly, Lewis Hamilton donned a helmet for this weekend with an important message. ‘We Stand Together’ imprinted on the back of his custom helmet for the Qatar GP with a background of the LGBTQ+ Progress Pride flag. An incredibly important message from Hamilton in this one off helmet given the issues away from F1 in Qatar.
George Russell Restores Normality
It looked like FP2/3 form carried over with Valtteri Bottas topping the timesheets. However, Max Verstappen managed to go top, but not for long. On a final run, Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets ahead of his title rival.
Kimi Raikkonen, Nicholas Latifi, Antonio Giovinazzi, Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin were the drivers out of Q1.
Shock Central in Q2
The only non-shocking result of Q2 seemed to be Hamilton claiming top spot again. The top three was completed with Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso, no Bottas or Verstappen!
It became even more shocking with the eliminated drivers. George Russell, Daniel Ricciardo, Charles Leclerc, Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez couldn’t make Q3. That result is massive for the constructors’ title fight. Ferrari will be relieved to have a McLaren with them as their grip on P3 gets stronger despite Leclerc being clearly frustrated.
Just like his Red Bull debut in Bahrain, qualifying under the lights was disappointing for Sergio Perez. Similarly to the curtain raiser, Checo was unable to get into the top 10 shootout. This will surely be a huge bonus for Mercedes in the Constructors’ Championship.
Lewis Hamilton Pole
For the 102nd time, we get to say it’s a Lewis Hamilton pole position! The aim for pole was a one minute 21, and Hamilton managed a time in the one minute 20s.
It’s the 34th different circuit that Lewis Hamilton has driven at in Formula One, but cream always rises to the top. A new circuit but the same old results for Hamilton who looks to cut Verstappen’s title lead further after a dominant win last time out.
It’s almost a dream scenario for Mercedes having two cars up against a solo Red Bull. Likewise to Mexico, the run to turn one is a long one, so is 3rd for Bottas better than 2nd? We’ll find out in the race.
How the Top Three Reacted
Lewis Hamilton was pumped up after the session: “That last lap was beautiful. It was a really sweet lap. This track is amazing to drive. Woo, it felt good!”
Max Verstappen acknowledged the struggles of the team: “I think just lacking a bit of pace, I think it’s just been a bit more tricky for us. Checo’s not even in Q3 so it shows that we are struggling a bit more than normal.”
Valtteri Bottas was left scratching his head: “I struggled quite a bit, especially in Turn 1. Need to have a look but obviously I tried my best, but little bit confused about what happened to the car overnight.”
🏁 Q3 CLASSIFICATION 🏁
— Formula 1 (@F1) November 20, 2021
At the 34 circuits he’s raced at, Lewis Hamilton was won the race on his first time there at 11 of them. Can he make it 12 tomorrow?
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images