Is the wind changing in the Losail Desert? On Saturday, on the Qatar Grand Prix circuit, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) signed his 102nd career pole position, without ever having been worried by his rival Max Verstappen (Red Bull). The Briton barely shook until Q1. Beaten by a breath – 0 “023 – in the first qualifying part of the twentieth round of the World Cup, the Briton then operated a severe tune-up by hitting hard in Q2, since he rejected the Dutchman at 0” 302 .
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And even more in Q3, after which the chronometric damage was considerable. Author of a lap in 1’21 “901 in the last minute, the Briton moved away the world n ° 1, which precedes him by 14 points in the championship, to 0” 455. A gulf, truly, which is reminiscent of his Brazilian rides last weekend.
Dropped on Friday, Hamilton found the way
While Red Bull has not ceased for days to fuel suspicion, to maintain a deleterious climate, the leader of Mercedes has therefore provided a scathing response on the track. Only 0’162 ahead of his first run in Q3, the seven-time world champion stunned the Batavian on his last lap, lining up the three intermediate sectors.
This shocking result, however, had nothing to gain. As he got out of the car, LH44 recalled how far he had found himself far from the account on Friday, “dropped” as he put it, as he went in the wrong direction of settings. Fortunately, on this unknown Formula 1 track, Mercedes had as a precaution engaged its teammate Valtteri Bottas on another technical, fruitful route.
A night of work later for the Mercedes teams, on the Qatari track and in the English branches of Brackley (chassis) and Brixworth (engine), Lewis Hamilton got off to a good start. With a much better balanced W12 and a lead of 0162 over Max Verstappen (Red Bull) at the end of the last free practice.
Verstappen looks gray
Congratulated for his “good effort” in his return to school, Max Verstappen did not respond to his boss, Christian Horner. Sullenly, he politely answered the official interviewer’s questions. “It was more complicated than expected for us another time in qualifying“, noted Max Verstappen, only representative of Milton Keynes in Q3 since Sergio Pérez fell by the wayside in Q2 (11th).
Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes), the fastest in free practice 3 but disappointing third at 0 “651, Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) was, for the eighth time this season, the best second driver in the Red Bull galaxy. two training sessions on Friday, still fourth in the last rehearsal on Saturday, the Frenchman signed his third top 4 of the season after Baku and Zandvoort, at 0.813. Without being able to defend his luck to the end because the right front tire of his AT02 could not withstand the off-roading of turn 15.
If the winner of the 2020 Italian Grand Prix achieved another feat on the clock, Fernando Alonso (Alpine) also caused a sensation by signing his best performance of the year on this circuit which he greatly appreciates. Exceptional, its fifth place at 0 “843 above all allows the French team to be able to fight for fifth place in the Constructors’ World Championship against… AlphaTauri.
Finally, with all these twists and turns – the worst qualification of Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) in 2021 (13th) in addition to the disappointment of Sergio Pérez – McLaren did not miss the opportunity to slide Lando Norris’ MCL35M into the Top 6, ahead of Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari.
Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) and Esteban Ocon (Alpine), respectively eighth and ninth and also ready to write a new page of the Italian-French duel, Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) was the tenth man of this Q3, that his teammate Lance Stroll has not integrated for four meetings.
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