Qatar Grand Prix: Verstappen cannot be beaten in qualifying for Doha

One day before potentially winning his third world title, Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen got off to an optimal start in the Qatar Grand Prix.

Qatar Grand Prix: Verstappen cannot be beaten in qualifying for Doha

One day before potentially winning his third world title, Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen got off to an optimal start in the Qatar Grand Prix.

The 26-year-old secured first place on the desert circuit for the main race on Sunday. Already on Saturday (7.30 p.m./Sky), the Red Bull driver can complete his successful title defense in the sprint. A sixth place at the Lusail International Circuit in the north of Doha is enough for the Dutchman to no longer be pushed out of first place in the overall standings.

"That was a great start to the weekend, it was pretty difficult on the new asphalt. I'm happy to be in pole position," said Verstappen: "The car is working as I hoped." His goal for the sprint is also clear: “Of course I want to win.”

Mercedes in second and third place

In qualifying, Verstappen set the fastest lap in 1:23.778 minutes and relegated the two Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton to second and third place. There was a bit of chaos because the fastest times for the two McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri were subsequently canceled because they left the track.

Two-time champion Verstappen is the favorite in the hunt for his 14th win of the season. There will be a separate qualification for the starting grid for the sprint on Saturday.

Verstappen showed strong times and was only narrowly beaten by Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes in the second section. The German Nico Hülkenberg drove his Haas racing car to 15th place in the end. After there had been very difficult conditions in training with a lot of wind and sand on the track, things became easier after dark under the floodlights.

Verstappen is hoping for similar good conditions in the sprint. If he scores at least three championship points on Saturday or delivers a poor result to his pursuer Sergio Pérez, Verstappen's title can no longer be taken away. “It would be nice to win the championship on Saturday,” said Verstappen, who is 177 points ahead of his teammate Pérez in the overall standings.

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