Defending Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton claimed pole position for Sunday’s Qatari Grand Prix at the Lusail circuit setting blistering pace with a 01:20.827s and starts the race just ahead of championship leader Max Verstappen. Speaking following the action Hamilton said:
I’m very happy with that qualifying session. Yesterday was difficult for me, I wasn’t feeling well on Thursday or Friday and then struggled in practice. So, I had to dig deep, I was here late last night working with the engineers and we found a lot of areas to improve. I felt fantastic today and slept very well last night, which made a big difference. We made some changes for FP3 and it seemed to work, and I was able to carry that into qualifying. That last lap was just beautiful, this track is amazing to drive and very fast, all medium and high-speed corners. In terms of the race, we don’t have much experience at this track, but I don’t think it will be the easiest of circuits to follow. It’s also not massively degrading the tyres so it could be a one or a two stop, we’ll find out tomorrow. It’s a decent run down to Turn 1 and it’s nice and wide, so we’ll be giving it everything.
Max Verstappen who goes into Sunday’s race with a 14 point lead in the championship commented following the session saying:
“It’s been a bit of an up and down weekend so far, I was happy in quali but just not quick enough. I thought I had quite a decent lap but then heard the gap difference and I was a bit shocked, it’s been really difficult to match them. In a way I’m happy to be second but the gap to Lewis is very big. Qualifying has been more of a struggle for us over the past few races so we definitely need to have a look into it. I don’t expect miracles tomorrow but we are on a new track and a lot of things can happen, we never give up. It’s very quick around here so it will be difficult to follow, it also depends on what tyres we will be on and those around us. I’ll try to do the best I can, as always.”
Valtteri Bottas starts the race from third place while Scuderia Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly was the star of the show as he rolls off from fourth place on the grid despite bringing out a yellow flag due to a puncture as a result of the curbs. Valtteri Bottas commented saying:
It’s been a strong weekend for us but of course, I’m a bit disappointed about qualifying. I felt comfortable in the car yesterday, but I’m a bit confused what happened overnight, because I was missing some speed. I struggled quite a bit in qualifying, particularly in Turn 1, where I wasn’t managing to get the tyres ready. We need to have a look into it, but I tried my best and squeezed everything out of the car. Still, it puts me on the clean side of the grid for tomorrow and we have both cars at the front of the pack. I don’t have much to lose and we have options, with two cars against one Red Bull, so normally that’s a good situation to be in. I’m sure it’s going to be a close day tomorrow.
Pierre Gasly commented following the session saying;
“I’m super happy with Qualifying, it’s been pretty amazing and we’re right behind Mercedes and Max again which is great. I was going even faster in the last lap, improving by one and a half tenths, but I went over the kerb at Turn 15 and I lost the front wing, which then blew the front right tyre. At the end of the day, it was still a really strong Qualifying and we’re in a good position for tomorrow. The Alpines are pretty close again, so I think it’ll be another intense battle in the race.”
Fernando Alonso had a great session for the Alpine F1 Team as he starts the race from fifth place just ahead of McLaren Racing’s Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Yuki Tsunoda starts the race from an impressive eighth place just ahead of Esteban Ocon who suffered some brake issues while Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team’s Sebastian Vettel rounds out the top ten. Speaking following the action Tsunoda said;
“I think today was a good Qualifying and I’m happy that I will be starting from P8 tomorrow. It was unfortunate that I had to sacrifice an additional set of Softs to get through Q1, which meant I didn’t have them for Q3, but I’m still really pleased with how today went. We think it’s going to be difficult to overtake in the race, so the start will be key, but the positive is that we’re all in the same position, as no one has driven here before. We’ll prepare for this as well as we can tonight, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
Speaking after setting a time of 01:22.785s, Sebastian Vettel said:
“I think we are feeling a bit more competitive this weekend and I had a good day overall. We managed to beat a Ferrari, a McLaren and even a Red Bull in Q2 so I think we can be happy. Unfortunately, during my final run in Q3, I encountered traffic and then the yellow flags prevented any chance of improving, which was a shame. Overall, it was a decent qualifying session and we will see what we can do in the race. Overtaking here is difficult but not impossible and it will be a new experience for all of us.”
Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez starts the race from 11th place with a time of 01:22.346s and speaking following the action, the Mexican commented saying;
“It was a crazy qualifying for me, I think we have been there all weekend and after FP3 we were really confident with the changes we were making. We had everything in hand to really have a strong qualifying but we didn’t put it together when it mattered. We changed our approach with the tyre prep going into the evening conditions and we were not able to do the laps we wanted to, I hit a lot of traffic and going out in Q2 is the price we paid, we didn’t put it together when it mattered. We are a Team so we are all in it together, it is a shame we didn’t make it but we are looking forward to tomorrow now. I think without that issue the pace was in the car, we have been up there all weekend, so I see no reason why we shouldn’t have been there today and therefore can’t fight tomorrow. It has been a disappointing day but Sunday is what matters and hopefully we are able to recover and minimise the damage. We will try to make overtaking possibly here, I really hope that come race day we can be strong and come through the field to be in the mix for big points.”
Red Bull Racing CEO and Team Principal Christian Horner commented saying:
“It’s great to be on the front row with Max, he got the maximum performance out of the car today and has an opportunity down into turn one tomorrow, but it’s going to be very difficult to follow closely after that with the speed of these corners and mount an overtake. So the first 500m are going to be crucial and then it will come down to strategy, pit stops and reliability, all of those factors, and the tyres are under constant load at this track, so it’s going to be fascinating to see how they last tomorrow. It’s a shame not to have Checo in the top ten, but it’s a long Grand Prix and he can still be a very important factor for us in the race tomorrow. With both title contenders starting next to each other it should be a great race.”
Lance Stroll starts the race from 12th place for Aston Martin just ahead of Charles Leclerc and speaking following the action the Canadian commented saying;
“The car felt really good today but, overall, after missing out on Q2 by one tenth, I came away from qualifying feeling we could have got a bit more from the session. The benefit of starting from P12 is that it gives us a free tyre choice for the race. We will see how we can benefit from that because it offers us more options. The track is a lot of fun to drive: it is similar to Mugello and Suzuka, very fast and flowing, so it should make for an interesting race.”
Daniel Ricciardo starts the race from 14th place for McLaren just ahead of Williams Racing’s George Russell who set a time of 01:22.756s and speaking following the action the Englishman commented saying;
I am pleased with the job we did today as we were a few tenths ahead of the Alfa Romeos, who are our main rivals, but unfortunately, we were just a bit too far from Q3. It was fun out there but it’s always a shame when you can’t make that next step, especially when you put in a strong lap. We were struggling to make the most of the tyre on the first lap but for Q2, we tried to maximise that one lap and we just couldn’t quite get the most out of it. I think it will be difficult to overtake tomorrow but it’s unique conditions here and a new track, so we’re looking forward to the race and let’s see what we can do.
Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN’s Kimi Raikkonen starts the race from 16th place with a time of 01:23.156s and speaking following the session the Iceman said:
“We did the best we could out there: it was not a bad lap and surely there wasn’t anything specific we could point our finger at. The car wasn’t bad in terms of balance, we were just not fast enough and the laptime reflected that. The track was the best it has been all weekend, and it is going to be interesting to see how the racing shapes up tomorrow. Starting that far back is not ideal, but it’s what we got and we’ll try to improve. Overtaking won’t be easy, but that’s pretty much the same everywhere we go so let’s see what we get out of this.”
Nicholas Latifi in the second Williams starts the race from 17th place with a time of 01:23.213s and speaking following his session the Canadian commented saying:
Both the car and lap felt good today, and I really enjoyed driving this circuit; it was actually one of the most fun qualifying sessions of the year. It’s a bit disappointing not to see that feeling reflected in our pace, especially as I expect qualifying position will play a key part in the race tomorrow, but it’s a positive that we’ll be lining up alongside our main competitors. Looking ahead to tomorrow, overtaking might be challenging, especially in the last few corners, but we’ll see what we can do to gain those positions.
Antonio Giovinazzi in the second Alfa Romeo starts the race from 18th place and speaking following the session where he set a tiem of 01:23.262s the Italian said;
“The feeling with the car in qualifying was the best it has been all weekend, but that was not enough for a place in Q2. It’s not been the easiest experience out there, we seemed to be struggling in practice as well, but I still hoped in a better result. We’re starting at the back instead, on a track where following and overtaking are not the easiest. It’s not going to be an easy race, but never say never: we will give our best and see if we can get a good result tomorrow. The track evolved a lot today and, if it makes another step, it could mean different strategies come into play. Lap one on a new track could also spring some surprises, so let’s see if we can make progress there too.”
The Haas F1 Team’s Mick Schumacher and teammate Nikita Mazepin start the race from the back in 19th and 20th respectively and speaking following the session, Mick Schumacher said;
“It’s a fun track – I enjoy driving here and definitely night driving is something to get used to. We knew it was going to be tough but actually overall I’m quite happy. We maximized what we had from the lap time and matched our targets, if not even exceeding them a bit. There was always going to be traffic in the last corner, it’s just the way the last sector builds. Everyone wants some temperature for the last corner but then nobody wants to give up a position, so we all stack. We managed it well as a team so I’m very happy about that.”
Nikita Mazepin is one of only two drivers on the current grid who has competed here in junior categories with the other being Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez and speaking about his qualifying the Russian driver said:
“I think I’ve done around 10 laps on a track that’s totally new to me. What the team did to turn the car around in such a
short amount of time – they’ve changed literally everything that’s possible to change – was great. It was miracle work,
it wasn’t just my car crew working on it but also Mick’s. It was very special from them, but it was a tough qualifying.”
The Haas F1 Team’s boss Guenther Steiner said:
A very good effort from the whole team to get Nikita out again after the trouble in FP3, in which they took the engine out and put back in again, changing the wiring loom and everything to do with the electronics. Obviously, it’s very difficult to go out having only done around 15 laps over the weekend and then go out for qualifying. We got out and at
least did a few laps. A very good performance from Mick, being very close to the people in front of us, closer than ever before. That was very promising, looking at the long-term future. For tomorrow, we try and get the best out of it from where we start.
The Qatar Grand Prix is live on Sky Sports F1HD.