Dominant Verstappen grabs Qatar GP pole, set to seal driver’s title in Saturday’s sprint race

Dominant Verstappen grabs Qatar GP pole, set to seal driver’s title in Saturday’s sprint race

QLNews
By QLNews

Belgian-Dutch driver Max Verstappen wowed over 50,000 spectators, who had jam packed the stands of the newly-renovated Lusail International Circuit (LIC), with a dominant show to take pole position in the Formula 1 Qatar Airways Qatar Grand Prix on Friday evening.

Red Bull’s runaway leader of the season set the fastest time of 1:27.428 in the only practice session. It was a sign of things to come as he took pole position with a blazing 1:23.778sec lap, his only one in Q3.

He finished ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell (+0.441sec) and seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton (+0.527sec).

Verstappen is set to clinch his third consecutive drivers’ world title in Saturday’s sprint. He will just need to finish sixth to take an unassailable lead over his teammate Sergio Perez, the only contender with a mathematical chance of overtaking him in the title race.

“It’s a great start to the weekend and I’m happy to be on pole. It’s been a good day for us,” Verstappen was quoted as saying.

About the possibility of him sealing the title today, he said: “I know in the back of my mind that that’s happening. But it doesn’t add any extra pressure or whatever. I just want to enjoy the weekend and try to do the best I can,” said Verstappen, who has scored 300 points from 13 wins (out of 16 races) in the 22-race calendar.

Russell said an ‘exceptional’ Verstappen would be a deserving champion.

“We can’t take anything away from what he and Red Bull have done. And we need to look at ourselves in the mirror and raise our game into next year and give him a challenge,” said the Mercedes driver.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished behind Hamilton. Mclaren’s Oscar Piastri finished sixth, ahead of Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, while Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas and McLaren’s Lando Norris qualified in ninth and 10th positions.

Perez slipped to 13th as his best time in the second part of qualifying was deleted as he went off track.

Today’s action will get underway with the shootout at 4pm, followed by sprint at 8.30pm. Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix will kick off at 8pm.

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