Formula 1 championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen share the front row for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix, with Hamilton triumphing in qualifying.
Hamilton’s 102nd career pole position was one of his easiest, thumping the challenging field by nearly half a second in a commanding display of speed.
After Friday practice, it initially seemed that Hamilton would face another difficult weekend.
“I really struggled throughout first practice, and I was just really off,” Hamilton said.
“I was here until l midnight working with the engineers, who also always work so late, and found I lot of areas in which I can improve.”
Those changes proved wonders as Hamilton topped each qualifying session.
He was the only driver in Q3 to lap under the 1.21s bracket.
“That last lap was beautiful, it was a really sweet lap,” Hamilton said. “This track is amazing to drive, it is incredibly fast. It felt good.”
Red Bull had an average day at the office. Despite Verstappen scoring a front row start, teammate Sergio Perez failed to progress into Q3 and starts 11th.
“We are struggling a bit more than normal,” Verstappen said. “We’ve never done a race here, so there’s a lot of unknowns.”
It could get worse for Verstappen too. He was summoned to the stewards after qualifying for improving his final Q3 lap under double waved yellow flags.
The yellows were a result of Pierre Gasly suffering a puncture and stopping on the main straight.
Should Verstappen be found guilty of ignoring yellow flags, he’ll face a grid drop for the race.
Valtteri Bottas qualified third while Gasly was again best of the midfield runners in fourth.
Fernando Alonso qualified fifth for Alpine and was followed by Lando Norris of McLaren and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari.
Yuki Tsunoda, Esteban Ocon and Seabstian Vettel round out the top ten.