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results, Lewis Hamilton cheating, Max Verstappen, grid, Daniel Ricciardo

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Lewis Hamilton maintained the momentum from last week’s stunning win in Brazil to claim pole for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix after a “really sweet” qualifying lap on Saturday.

Max Verstappen, who leads his Mercedes rival by 14 points with three races to go, is set to start alongside Hamilton on the front row on Sunday.

But the Dutchman will first have to pay a visit to the stewards for allegedly “not respecting double waved yellow flags”.

Verstappen could face a potentially decisive grid penalty if he is found to have broken the rules.

The time gap between the two leading cars will also give all at Red Bull a restless night — almost half a second, a clear sign Hamilton’s new engine fitted last weekend has injected fresh life into his quest for an unprecedented eighth world title.

His flying lap time of 1min 20.827 that clinched Qatar’s first ever pole position proved way beyond Verstappen, who was 0.455sec slower – but the Red Bull team are still pondering a protest of Hamilton’s rear wing, which has been repeatedly investigated by stewards (more below)

“That last lap was beautiful. It was a really sweet lap. This track is amazing to drive. Woo, it felt good!” Hamilton tweeted.

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Alleged Mercedes cheating explained | 01:26

EVERY SCENARIO EXPLAINED: What Verstappen, Hamilton each need to win F1 world title

FULL RESULTS: Race Centre!

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas posted the third quickest time under floodlights at the Losail circuit to fill the second row with Pierre Gasly for Alpha Tauri.

Mercedes were handed an unexpected potential advantage in their titanic title battle with Red Bull after Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez failed to make it to the Q3 top 10 shootout.

With the Mexican down in the sixth row on Sunday’s grid Red Bull’s tactics to upset Mercedes rest on a one-man band named Verstappen.

Perez was not wrong when he ventured: “It’s going to be a very tricky race.”

He wasn’t the only man to stunningly miss out on reaching Q3, with Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also failing to reach the top 10. Ricciardo will start 14th — miles behind McLaren teammate Lando Norris in sixth — while Leclerc qualified 13th.

Bottas quickest ahead of Gasly after P2 | 01:00

– ‘I’ll give it everything’ –

This was Hamilton’s 102nd career pole but his first since Hungary almost four months ago.

And compared to last weekend’s drama, when the 36-year-old Briton overcame a slew of penalties to finish fifth from the back of the grid in Saturday’s qualifying sprint, then win on Sunday from 10th, this was almost routine.

Given the flashpoint incident last Sunday when Verstappen appeared to push Hamilton wide on his first attempt to overtake him, Sunday’s start promises to be another pivotal moment in the razor-sharp rivalry between the pair which has made 2021 a season apart.

With his Dutch arch-rival out to beat him to the first corner Hamilton said: “It is a decent run into Turn 1, which is wide so I will give it everything.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “We’ve got an opportunity down on the run to Turn 1 tomorrow.

“But that last lap of Lewis’ was phenomenally quick. Their straight line speed has come down a bit, it looks more similar to ours now which is good to see.

“Lewis made all his time in Turns 6 and 7. It was a very strong lap by Lewis.”

Verstappen accepted that with Perez down in mid-grid it “shows we are struggling a bit more than normal”.

But he added: “Still second, so still all to play for. There’s a lot of unknowns, we just need to work on our start and see where we end up.” He will be hoping for a repeat of his electric starts in the last two races in Mexico and Brazil where he had got past pole-sitter Bottas in both races by the first or second corners.

Gasly’s place on the second row came after the French driver suffered a puncture on his flying lap.

He stopped on the start/finish straight, bringing out the yellow flags which Verstappen was accused of not respecting.

Sunday’s first F1 race at Qatar’s Losail circuit, mainly associated up to now with MotoGP, is followed by Saudi Arabia, another newcomer to the F1 calendar, before the 22-race season closes on familiar territory in Abu Dhabi on December 12.

Max vs. Lewis: EVERY angle revealed! | 01:27

HAMILTON FACING POTENTIAL PROTEST

After weeks of controversy, the latest spat between Verstappen and his rival centers around a potential Red Bull protest of Hamilton’s rear wing.

“The straight-line speeds that we’ve seen in Mexico and in Brazil – I think everybody could see in Brazil it was not a normal situation. And yes, a new engine, we know with Mercedes, comes with increased performance,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said after practice.

“But when you have a 27kph closing speed and witness marks on rear wing end plates that have been marking up from wings that have been flexing it’s very clear to us what has been going on.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff responded: “I think we’ve been controlled 14 times on this very particular wing,” he said. “The FIA has all drawings about it, there is no such thing as Red Bull expects there to be. So we are happy to send it, cut it, can send you one to Milton Keynes.”

Horner asked Wolff: “How do you explain the score marks on the rear wing end plate?”

“I think it is within what is allowed and therefore that’s okay,” Wolff answered.

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F1 2021, Qatar Grand Prix qualifying, Daniel Ricciardo, news, results, video, Formula One

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Daniel Ricciardo suffered one of his most disappointing qualifying sessions of the season as he managed to put his McLaren just 14th on the grid for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix.

Ricciardo had been struggling all weekend – never finishing better than 11th in any session – with the McLaren’s weakness around long corners laid bare on the Losail track.

But with teammate Lando Norris smashing expectations by putting his papaya car into P6 – above both Ferraris, to boot – Ricciardo’s comparative underperformance was bitterly disappointing.

And he’ll start from the dirty side of the grid, adding ‘insult to injury’ to the Aussie.

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Alleged Mercedes cheating explained | 01:26

‘Very clear what’s going on’: New cheating claim rocks F1, but Max ALSO faces penalty

“I think the insult to injury is the right-hand side of the grid is going to be terrible,” Ricciardo told Sky F1.

“I know that sounds real negative, but I think it’s speaking fact at the moment, there are no support categories this weekend so we will see if they can give it a polish tonight.”

He joked that he was considering making a protest over the results – with protests the theme of the week given Mercedes and Red Bull’s bitter battle.

“Or we can protest someone, gain a position, they all got in my way so I’m going to protest them actually.

“There were a few cats in the last corner today, didn’t affect my lap, but they tried, and they failed. I know there was one Ferrari who I’m not happy with, and there was a Williams as well, so I’m out for blood!”

Ricciardo failed to reach Q3 in six of his first 11 races with McLaren, but has only missed out on the top 10 once in the last eight races prior to Qatar.

He has been outqualified by his teammate 12 times this year, and has outqualified Norris eight times. But he sits 46 points behind him in the driver standings, having finished behind him

Ricciardo conceded the lack of pace around long corners was damaging lap times and ‘handcuffing’ the team.

“Honestly, just didn’t have the pace, I think all weekend we were trying to find a bit more,” he said.

“That didn’t feel that bad, but just trying to carry a little bit more speed through a few corners and I just couldn’t quite get it to hold, so not really finding those last few tenths.

“So we will see what we can do [in the race], free tyre choice, I’ll take that, but ultimately just didn’t have the pace.

“Some corners feel pretty good, but I think we know this year these long corners is where we struggle more than others.

Max vs. Lewis: EVERY angle revealed! | 01:27

“Not being able to do a whole lot with the approach, I think that is where we are a little bit handcuffed in some ways.

“So I think that is tough to exploit, and I’m still not quite on top of exploiting that in those style of corners.

“To make it hang on you just have to slow down too much, so I think we just lose a lot of corner speed compared to some of the others.

“Of course it is frustrating, 14th is not great, but we will try and find a way to make it better tomorrow.”

For Norris, it was a massive result that certainly exceeded what most had predicted. After qualifying, he whooped on team radio: “Yeah baby, that’s what I’m talking about.”

Asked if he was happy with his sixth-place result, Norris told Sky F1: “Yes very satisfied, I’m not P1 so it’s still a bit disappointing, but we weren’t expecting P6 at all, we were expecting to be a lot further down than that, so very happy, especially because my lap was good in the end.

“We struggled a lot in FP3 this morning, understanding the wind, the wind changed massively, but we had to re-understand so we probably did our longest debrief I’ve ever done in my life, trying to understand this morning. And it paid off.”

Hamilton clinches dramatic win in Brazil | 03:05

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Top 10 shootout, results, weather, forecast, qualifying results, video, Jamie Whincup crash

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Nick Percat has scored his second career ARMOR ALL Pole Position in a rain-affected shootout at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Percat was sixth man out in the one-lap dash, and managed to secure pole for the Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight final despite sliding his way through the final sector.

The Brad Jones Racing driver will launch from the front row for just the fifth time in his 252-race career.

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Van Gisbergen claims thrilling R29 win | 01:40

The 2011 Bathurst winner’s first pole came on the Townsville streets last September.

Percat’s 1:43.860s proved 0.4s quicker than Shane van Gisbergen, who can clinch the 2021 drivers’ title on Sunday.

Van Gisbergen’s last remaining title rival, Red Bull Ampol Racing teammate Jamie Whincup, will start seventh.

“It was hard,” said Percat said.

“I knew roughly what I had to do; in qualy, we had a bit of fogging… ‘I think I’m going to do a 43.8’.

“That was the number in my head I had manifested.

“Watching the other guys, I could hear them wheel-spinning a lot… the BJR car was mega, it had such good traction out of the corner.

“Massive credit to the BJR guys… I told Brad in our discussions earlier in the year that I’m not going to give up on you.

“I want to win some trophies… so far we’ve got a trophy, and now we’ve got a pole position.”

David Reynolds was first man out and clocked a 1:44.397s through the spray, and his time held firm before Percat set what would be the only 1:43s lap of the shootout.

Cameron Waters, Chaz Mostert, Jamie Whincup and Tim Slade all failed to unseat Reynolds, before Percat undercut the Kelly Grove Racing driver’s time by 0.537s.

Fabian Coulthard impressed aboard his Team Sydney entry to qualify sixth.

Todd Hazelwood, van Gisbergen and provisional pole-sitter Andre Heimgartner were all unable to shift Percat’s time.

The 64-lap Race 30 will commence at 3:15pm AEDT.

This article first appeared on supercars.comand was reproduced with permission.

SVG does it again in Sydney! | 02:37

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Max Verstappen yellow flags penalty

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Max Verstappen could be punted back to the midfield on the starting grid for Monday morning’s Qatar Grand Prix after being called to front a stewards investigation.

The Red Bull star qualified second-fastest in Sunday morning’s qualifying session, behind reigning champion Lewis Hamilton.

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The FIA released a statement after the final qualifying session that Verstappen was being investigated for allegedly “not respecting double waved yellow flags”.

Verstappen could face a potentially decisive grid penalty if he is found to have broken the rules.

EVERY SCENARIO EXPLAINED: What Verstappen, Hamilton each need to win F1 world title

The Dutch driver secured his fastest time in his final lap at the end of the third qualifying session where double yellow flags could be seen as he turned onto pit straight.

TV replays showed yellow flags were waved to warn Verstappen that Pierre Gasly had stopped on track due to a tyre blowout.

In another bizarre day of FIA administrating, the stewards failed to reach a swift decision, inexcusably delaying the decision until the following day, The Sun’s Ben Hunt reported.

Verstappen is facing a potential five-place grid penalty — a precedent set for similar, more clear-cut cases of drivers ignoring double yellows.

If that occurs Verstappen would start seventh; with Hamilton on pole, the Brit would have the chance to regain the championship lead; it’s currently leaning 14 points Verstappen’s way.

Formula 1 TV captures the moment double yellow flags are waved as Max Verstappen completes his flying lap.Source: Twitter

Verstappen’s case is far from clear cut, however.

At different times of the TV replays Verstappen’s on-board camera showed the official FIA directive had not registered on his control screen. There are also suggestions a green flag could also be seen on the other side of the track — indicating it was safe for Verstappen to continue his lap without slowing down.

Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz are also facing potential grid penalties.

Even more concerning for Verstappen is Hamilton’s Mercedes again showed absolute dominance in qualifying to finish almost half a second clear of the rest of the field.

His flying lap time of 1min 20.827 that clinched Qatar’s first ever pole position proved way beyond Verstappen, who was 0.455sec slower.

“That last lap was beautiful. It was a really sweet lap. This track is amazing to drive. Woo, it felt good!” he tweeted.

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas posted the third quickest time under floodlights at the Losail circuit to fill the second row with Pierre Gasly for Alpha Tauri.

Max Verstappen may be penalised. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Mercedes were handed an unexpected potential advantage in their titanic title battle with Red Bull after Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez failed to make it to the Q3 top 10 shootout.

With the Mexican down in the sixth row on Sunday’s grid, Red Bull’s tactics to upset Mercedes rest on a one-man band named Verstappen.

Perez was not wrong when he ventured: “It’s going to be a very tricky race.”

That wasn’t the only shock in qualifying as Aussie Daniel Ricciardo and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc also bombed out before Q3. Ricciardo will start 14th on the grid — well behind McLaren teammate Lando Norris in sixth — while Leclerc qualified 13th.

This was Hamilton’s 102nd career pole but his first since Hungary almost four months ago.

And compared to last weekend’s drama, when the 36-year-old Brit overcame a slew of penalties to finish fifth from the back of the grid in Saturday’s qualifying sprint, then win on Sunday from 10th, this was almost routine.

Given the flashpoint incident last weekend when Verstappen appeared to push Hamilton wide on his first attempt to overtake him, the start to the Qatar GP promises to be another pivotal moment in the razor-sharp rivalry between the pair which has made 2021 a season to remember.

With his Dutch arch-rival out to beat him to the first corner Hamilton said: “It is a decent run into Turn 1, which is wide so I will give it everything.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: “We’ve got an opportunity down on the run to Turn 1 tomorrow.

“But that last lap of Lewis’ was phenomenally quick. Their straight line speed has come down a bit, it looks more similar to ours now which is good to see.

“Lewis made all his time in Turns 6 and 7. It was a very strong lap by Lewis.”

Things didn’t got to plan for Daniel Ricciardo. (Photo by Andrej Isakovic / AFP)Source: AFP

Qatar GP qualifying results: Top 10

1) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull

3) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

4) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri

5) Fernando Alonso, Alpine

6) Lando Norris, McLaren

7) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari

8) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

9) Esteban Ocon, Alpine

10) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

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