Max Verstappen will start Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix from pole position, after setting the benchmark once again in qualifying.
It was a windy and sandy affair at the Lusail International Circuit, yet it was the Dutchman who once again rode the waves to storm to pole by just over four-tenths of a second ahead of George Russell.
Verstappen actually had a close encounter with the Mercedes driver during Q1, where he was left frustrated by the King’s Lynn-born driver going slowly.
“What an idiot!” Verstappen complained over the team radio.
Russell blocking him had, unsurprisingly, absolutely no effect on his qualifying, as went on to top Q1.
It was Lewis Hamilton who topped Q2, although the seven-time World Champion could only do enough for third on the grid.
Third would’ve been fifth for Hamilton and second would’ve been third for Russell, had Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri both not had their best Q3 time deleted.
Norris’ time was good enough for P2 whilst Piastri would’ve claimed fourth on the grid, if they hadn’t exceeded track limits.
As for Verstappen’s team-mate – the only driver who can deny the 26-year-old the Drivers’ Championship – he’ll start from 13th.
It was another qualifying to forget for Sergio Perez, who would’ve made it through to Q3 in P10 had he also not exceeded track limits.
He wasn’t the only big name to be eliminated in Q2, as Carlos Sainz could only salvage 12th.
Both drivers do have a chance somewhat to redeem themselves Saturday afternoon, in the sprint shootout to determine the grid for Saturday evening’s sprint race.
For Verstappen not to win his third consecutive Drivers’ Championship on Saturday, then Perez needs to find a ridiculous amount of time, as he essentially must win the sprint.
If Perez wins the sprint race, then Verstappen can win the title if he finishes P6 Saturday morning, meaning there is a huge chance that he’ll start Sunday’s race having already claimed the World Championship once again.
Norris appears to really be the only driver able of getting anywhere close to Verstappen’s lap-time, making it massively disappointing that he’ll start from P10 on Sunday, as both of his Q3 laps were deleted for exceeding track limits.