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Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton Quickest In Qatar Qualifying

Photo Credit: LAT Images for Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Ltd.

Saturday’s qualifying for the inaugural Formula 1 race in the Arab nation of Qatar has assembled what is certain to be a dramatic opening lap showdown between this season’s title contenders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

In setting the grid for Sunday’s 57-lap main event on the fast, high grip 5.380-kilometer Losail International Circuit, it was the driver of the #44 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team race car that took honours. Lewis Hamilton’s pole-winning lap time of 1-minute, 20.827 seconds in the final Q3 session putting a cap on a time trial where the seven-time World Drivers’ Champion handily controlled through the three sessions. Joining Hamilton on the front row of the 2021 Qatar Grand Prix will be Max Verstappen’s Red Bull Racing machine. The Honda-powered entrant was 0.455 seconds slower than the rival Mercedes race car. With the race at Losail being the third-to-last event on the 2021 Formula 1 season calender the late speed from the Mercedes squad has emerged as Lewis Hamilton pursues Verstappen in the points standings by 14 markers entering the weekend. In four of the last five grand prix races, both title contenders have taken the top two spots.

Finland’s Valtteri Bottas continues to make a strong late-season showing in qualifying with the second Mercedes AMG by capturing the third place grid position. Scuderia AlphaTauri’s impressive pace at the Losail race track on Friday was highlighted by driver Pierre Gasly logging the fourth fastest time in the Q3 session. Riding high after an outstanding performance late in the final qualifying session, the Frenchman suffered some drama when the front wing on his AlphaTauri AT02 race car broke after hitting the turn 15 curb. Gasly’s teammate Yuki Tsunoda also had a stellar outing in Qatar breaking into the Q3 group ultimately scoring an eighth place grid result.

Besides Pierre Gasly’s speed on Saturday, the French flag also flew high when the Alpine F1 Team. Fernando Alonso led the Alpine team’s effort sailing to a fifth-fastest performance. Alonso’s qualifying result was the Spanish two-time World Drivers’ Champion’s best time trial challenge since his return to the Formula 1 tour this year. The second Alpine of Esteban Ocon will start the Qatar Grand Prix in ninth place.

While Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are competing in the most publicized point battle in the 2021 drivers’ standings, a mathematical four-way fight for fourth place is also in play with three races remaining. A 38.5-point gap between fourth place Sergio Perez and seventh place Carlos Sainz Jr. in the season-long point tally will leave every driver in that group battling hard in the final events. Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez has a 27-point cushion on McLaren’s Lando Norris but the Mexican driver cannot be comfortable. Perez starts in 11th place on Sunday while Norris will launch from the lights in sixth place. Both Scuderia Ferrari drivers (Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz Jr.) have a chance to rise up the drivers’ standings. Sainz took seventh place on the grid in an admirable performance but his teammate struggled. After qualifying, Leclerc’s 13th place result has been linked to a crack in his Ferrari race car’s chassis.

The 20-car Formula 1 field is set to be unleashed at 5 p.m. local time (9 a.m. eastern time) for the first-ever Qatar Grand Prix.

2021 Formula 1 Season
Qatar Grand Prix
Starting Grid
Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
2 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing Honda
3 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
4 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
5 14 Fernando Alonso Alpine F1 Team Renault
6 4 Lando Norris McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
7 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
8 22 Yuki Tsunoda Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda
9 31 Esteban Ocon Alpine F1 Team Renault
10 5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
11 11 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing Honda
12 18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
13 16 Charles Leclerc Scuderia Misson Winnow Ferrari Ferrari
14 3 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren F1 Team Mercedes-Benz
15 63 George Russell Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
16 7 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
17 6 Nicholas Latifi Williams Racing Mercedes-Benz
18 99 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo Racing Ferrari
19 47 Mick Schumacher Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari
20 9 Nikita Mazepin Uralkali Haas F1 Team Ferrari


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