Hamilton wins his 102nd pole, outracing his competitor Max Verstappen at the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.
Excitement was at an all time high in Lusail this weekend as British Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton zoomed into first place spot at the Qatar Grand Prix.
The inaugural F1 event, held at the Losail International Circuit, is the first race of its kind in the Gulf state and is part of a 10 year deal with Qatar.
Despite a nagging stomach ache upon Hamilton’s arrival in Qatar, and placing fourth in both of Friday’s practice races, the champion racer’s persistent efforts eventually led him to victory on Saturday.
“I really struggled throughout the first practice and I was just really off,” stated Hamilton, noting that he stayed late with the team the night prior to the event while working on navigating the new track and ironing out any weak points which may slow down his game.
Hamilton attributed implementing a “smart strategy” that pushed him forward on the track, by encountering very little traffic that helped him achieve a 1 minute, 20 second pace, nearly half a second faster than his competitor Redbull Honda’s Verstappen.
“That last lap was beautiful, it was a really sweet lap. This track is amazing to drive, it is incredibly fast. It felt good,” he cheerfully added.
Meanwhile, Verstappen said Red Bull was lacking pace, noting his teammate Sergio Perez failed to advance to the qualifying group.
“We’ve never done a race here, so there’s a lot of unknown. We are struggling a bit more than normal. It’s been just a bit more tricky for us in qualifying,” said Verstappen, highlighting the difficulties of navigating a new track.
Hamilton and Verstappen’s relationship, though competitive, remains friendly.
On Friday, a briefing was held to clear confusion over the rules of the race and the purpose of yellow flags and guidelines around defending and overtaking.
“Every driver I think except for Max was asking for clarity. It’s still not clear what the limits of the track are. We just ask for consistency. If it’s the same for the last race, then that should be the same for all of us in those certain scenarios and then it’s fine,” Hamilton said.
With many more competitors set to take the Losail track within the upcoming decade, it is indeed an exciting time for Formula 1 fans here in Qatar.