Formula 1 news: The third-last Quali of the season is now done-and-dusted, and the story continues – it’s still between Lewis & Max, albeit this time around, it is Lewis ahead of his arch-rival.
Almost every driver on the grid (except Nikita Mazepin) has hailed the fast-flowing Qatar circuit. Something is amazing about racing under floodlights and at a track as good as this one. That said, please don’t expect a lot of overtakes tomorrow. Issued in public interest.
Anyhoo, how did Q1, Q2, & Q3 go for the ten teams and twenty drivers? I am here to talk about that. But first, let’s all take a moment of silence to remember Pierre’s front wing, his front-right tyre, and the many skid blocks who sadly lost their lives at the Losail circuit tonight.
Back to F1. We knew coming to Qatar that it will be a Mercedes-track, but what we didn’t know is that the margin would be almost half a-tenth! Rub salt on Red Bull’s wounds, it is said that Hamilton is running an older PU for the Qatar round. Oh boy, this is going to be so good!
Mercedes – Hamilton – P1 / Bottas – P3
Lewis hadn’t taken a Pole in a long, long time this season, so it was bound to change. Plus, the stats say that whenever the Silver Arrows have led Q1 & Q2, they have also remained at the front come the all-important Quali session.
Ham has been in sensational form all weekend long, and was the favorite to grab Pole, because when he knows his car can drive fast, he can hook up a lap so darn impressive that even he is left starstruck. At times.
And that is exactly what the F1 superstar did! Lewis was the only driver to dip into the 1m20s in Qatar, as he put in a brilliant lap to secure Pole for tomorrow’s race and his 102nd P1 just so you know.
For Bottas, it was a rather dull session. The Finn had been in great form for the last few rounds, but he was some six-tenths behind his teammate. Maybe Wolff’s comments on how relaxed he is now, played with Valtteri’s mind? Who knows… He lines up in P3, on the clean side of the grid, right behind Lewis.
Formula 1 news: Red Bull – Verstappen – P2 / Perez – P11
Red Bull came to Qatar knowing it would be difficult for the team to challenge Mercedes in a straight line. That, and with Losail’s fast-flowing corners, they stood no chance, you see. But even then, since Max has a Championship to win, he did the best he could. Probably a bit too much…
It was all going smooth until the latter stages of Q3 when Gasly suffered a late puncture thanks to the front wing getting destroyed and everybody had to slow down for double-waved yellows in S3. Except that Max didn’t. Or so it seems.
Verstappen was apparently so focused on beating Lewis that he didn’t see the yellows and slowed down by enough on the start-finish straight. The footage on the internet confirms the same. The latest is that the FIA is now looking again at the incident and has summoned him for the same. Trouble for Verstappen? If he is found guilty, he might not get a grid-drop, because that’s not how the new rules work. Instead, he would be given a lap-time deletion, meaning he would still keep his P2, because Bottas behind didn’t go quicker.
On Checo’s side, it was a difficult session. Just shameful. Sad. Disappointing. In his defense, he believes he was sent out at the wrong time. The problem is that out here, even the strategic Pole position wouldn’t make much of a difference because the tyre wear seems to be quite low, coupled with the fact that Pirelli brought its hardest compounds to Qatar.
Ferrari – Carlos – P7 / Leclerc – P13
My eyes are full of tears as I type this. Charlie Leclerc down in P13, in a Ferrari, on pure pace? How’s that even possible?! It is. Deal with it.
Sainz has been out-qualifying his teammate for several races now, all in just his debut season with the Prancing Horse! And he pretty much did the same tonight as well, albeit getting out-qualified by an AlphaTauri and Alpine in return.
As for Leclerc, he was out of words. He didn’t know what the issue was with his car, as he mentioned over the team radio. Even Ferrari too, had no idea why Charles was so slow. That was until it found the answer. The team said that the Monegasque took some hit to his chassis, and as such, lost performance. Poor guy. The Italians are now changing the entire chassis as a precaution instead of just applying some duct tape over the wounds as we speak.
McLaren – Lando – P6 / Ricciardo – P14
On what will be the team’s 900th Grand Prix start tomorrow, the drivers will line up right alongside the Ferrari men, the main targets for Woking. It was a rather straightforward day for them, now to see what the team can do tomorrow.
AlphaTauri – Gasly – P4 / Tsunoda – P8 / Alpine – Alonso – P5 / Ocon – P9
I feel Gasly and what Nando is doing in its return to F1 is not talked about enough, unfortunately. But let’s talk about them here.
Pierre has been in great shape and form ever since he first drove out to the circuit on Friday, so it was only fitting that he continues his great run come Quali. And he did just that! I absolutely don’t know how he’s able to do that, but now, you expect him to deliver every weekend, don’t you? Kudos to the Frenchman in that case.
Yuki too, was amazing today, as he crossed the line to register a time good enough for P8 on tomorrow’s grid. Now if only all goes according to plan, tomorrow could be so, so good for us to witness.
Fernando has been quick at most of the races this year, outperforming the capabilities of his Alpine. Once again, the two-time World Champion impressed the world with his speed as he took a brilliant P5 that went unnoticed, unfortunately. Hungarian GP winner Esteban Ocon too, was in the top 10 when he took the chequered flag to secure a P9 for tomorrow’s race. The title battle between these two teams seems to be better than Mercedes & Red Bull currently.
Aston Martin – Vettel – P10 / Stroll Jr – P12
Sebastian was quite eager to finally get into Q3 after missing out in the past few races as he battled with Pierre I think it was while entering the pits and exiting. Typical Seb.
The German was quite happy with his day, especially when you consider that he out-qualified a Red Bull, McLaren, and a Ferrari on pure pace. He also says that he could’ve been P9 or P8 at best if it wasn’t for the Gasly incident, but he’s positive for tomorrow in general. As for his teammate, another bad day at the office.
Williams – Russell – P15 / Latifi – P17 / Alfa – Raikkonen – P16 / Giovinazzi – P18 / Haas – Mick – P19 / Mazepin – P20
The tail-end of the field had nothing much to offer, but I would like to spare a thought for the poor Nikita Mazepin – the driver who currently sits 21st in a 20-driver Championship, had literally no running as he was first a victim of a chassis change, then an engine change. Poor fella.
Qatar GP – 57 laps – Lewis P1 & Max P2
The headlines have been made. The distance to T1 is a lot. Anything could happen tomorrow. Speaking of anything, Verstappen has to go and see the stewards for not slowing down under the double-waved yellows, so there’s the drama even before the race itself. 14 points currently separate the two. It is most certainly going right down to the wire. Don’t miss!