Lewis Hamilton beat title rival Max Verstappen to pole position for the Qatar Grand Prix with Valtteri Bottas third as Mercedes outpaced Red Bull by a considerable margin at Losail International Circuit. AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly took fourth place on the grid despite suffering a front wing failure on his car at the end of his final lap of Q3.
In Q1, Hamilton set the early pace with a lap of 1:22.019, with Verstappen slotting into second place, just over two tenths of a second off the pace of the Mercedes driver. Perez meanwhile found himself sixth after the early ruins thanks to a lap of 1:23.224. However, as better times came in he began to slip down the order and with six minutes remaining he was in 12th place.
He bounced back soon after, jumping to fourth place with a lap of 1:22.398, but Verstappen was also on track and the Dutchman took P1 and became the first driver under 1m22s thanks to a lap of 1:21.996.
At the other end of the order Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen was the first man eliminated in P16 and he exited ahead of Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, who missed out on a final run, the second Alfa Romeo of Antonio Giovinazzi, and the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
Hamilton also put in a late flyer to nudge Verstappen out of 1:21.901 and the Dutchman went through in second place ahead of Bottas and Sainz who also made a late improvement to push Perez down to fifth place.
In the first runs of Q2 Hamilton set the pace with a lap of 1:21.682 and while Verstappen initially slotted into P2 he was edged out by Gasly who posted a time four hundredths of a second quicker than the Dutchman’s 1:21.984. Perez, though, was struggling and at the end of the first runs he was languishing down in 12th place. He was sent out on soft tyres for the final runs.
But despite the softer compound the Mexican again struggled for pace and though he set two personal best times in the opening two sectors, he flagged in the final third of the track and was unexpectedly eliminated in 11th place.
He wasn’t the only usual frontrunner to be ruled out of the top 10 shootout, however. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was eliminated in 13th behind Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll and McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo exited in P14 ahead of the Williams of George Russell.
At the top of the order Hamilton took P1 with his first run time ahead of Gasly with Alpine’s Fernando Alonso in an impressive third place. Verstappen therefore progressed in fourth spot with his medium tyre time of 1:21.984. Also through to the final segment were Alpine’s Esteban Ocon in sixth ahead of Tsunoda, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, Norris and Sainz.
Perez’s unexpected exit left Verstappen as the only Bull in the final top-10 shootout. And though the Dutchman pushed hard, he couldn’t match the pace of Hamilton whose final lap of 1:20.827 was good enough to secure pole by 0.455s ahead of Verstappen.
Valtteri Bottas took third place for Mercedes, with Pierre Gasly an excellent fourth for AlphaTauri, although the Frenchman had a scary moment at the end of his lap when he hit the kerbs hard in Turn 15. His front wing collapsed and the debris punctured the AlphaTauri driver’s front right tyre. He did well to hold the car before grinding to a halt on the pit straight.
Fernando Alonso was fifth for Alpine ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz. Yuki Tsunoda will line up in eighth place ahead of the second Alpine of Esteban Ocon and the final top 10 position was taken by Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel
2021 FIA Formula 1 Qatar Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:20.827 6 239.622
2 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Honda 1:21.282 0.455 0.563 6 238.281
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:21.478 0.651 0.805 6 237.708
4 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri/Honda 1:21.640 0.813 1.006 5 237.236
5 Fernando Alonso Alpine/Renault 1:21.670 0.843 1.043 6 237.149
6 Lando Norris McLaren/Mercedes 1:21.731 0.904 1.118 6 236.972
7 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:21.840 1.013 1.253 6 236.656
8 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri/Honda 1:21.881 1.054 1.304 6 236.538
9 Esteban Ocon Alpine/Renault 1:22.028 1.201 1.486 6 236.114
10 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:22.785 1.958 2.422 6 233.955
11 Sergio Pérez Red Bull/Honda 1:22.346 0.664 0.813 6 235.202
12 Lance Stroll Aston Martin/Mercedes 1:22.460 0.778 0.952 6 234.877
13 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:22.463 0.781 0.956 6 234.868
14 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren/Mercedes 1:22.597 0.915 1.120 7 234.487
15 George Russell Williams/Mercedes 1:22.756 1.074 1.315 6 234.037
16 Kimi Räikkönen Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:23.156 1.255 1.532 9 232.911
17 Nicholas Latifi Williams/Mercedes 1:23.213 1.312 1.602 10 232.752
18 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo/Ferrari 1:23.262 1.361 1.662 8 232.615
19 Mick Schumacher Haas/Ferrari 1:23.407 1.506 1.839 9 232.210
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas/Ferrari 1:25.859 3.958 4.833 9 225.579