Hamilton wins in Qatar, behind Verstappen with two races to go

Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2nd in the World Championship standings, won the first Qatari Grand Prix in Formula 1 history and is eight points behind leader Max Verstappen (Red Bull), 2nd Sunday of the 20th round out of 22 this season.

« We can do it »: after his victory last week in Brazil, Hamilton did it again, started from pole position and never worried by Verstappen. He is now behind the Dutchman in the title race before the home stretch in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi in December.

It is the 7th this season and the 102nd of the career of the 37-year-old Briton, who is aiming for a record eighth world crown, while Verstappen, 24, is hoping for a first coronation.

Verstappen can, mathematically, be crowned in Jeddah on December 5 before the last race. But the momentum is in Hamilton’s favor. The two drivers could also be tied at the end of the next Grand Prix if the Briton wins with the point of the best lap and the Dutchman is 2nd.

Qualified 2nd, Verstappen was demoted before the start of five places on the grid, for not having slowed down while Gasly’s car was immobilized on the track during qualifying on Saturday.

F1: Hamilton wins in Qatar, behind Verstappen with two races to go

From the start, the 24-year-old Dutchman has won three positions. In the 5th lap he was second behind his rival. But unlike Brazil, the scene of a battle of anthology last week, this time there was no direct confrontation.

– 98th podium for Alonso –

Verstappen finished the 57 laps of 5.38 kilometers, 25.7 seconds behind the seven-time world champion, but he got the point for the fastest lap.

« Our position on the grid compromised the situation but I got off to a very good start, we quickly came back to 2nd position and in the end it’s very good to have this fastest lap, » he reacted. « Of course I would have liked to increase the gap in the championship but we didn’t have the pace ».

Hamilton, he felt « a little lonely at the front of the race »: « Of course the penalties that the guys received (Bottas in addition to Verstappen) made it easier. I just had to manage my lead. . I never felt really in danger « .

« I like it when everything goes well, very good work from the team, I can’t wait to see the replay to see what happened behind ».

F1: Hamilton wins in Qatar, behind Verstappen with two races to go

He will be able to review how Alonso, double world champion 2005 and 2006, signed his 98th podium, the first since 2014.

« Unbelievable, seven years … well we have it! (…) I waited so long for that », reacted the 40-year-old Spaniard, elected driver of the day.

Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) and Esteban Ocon (Alpine) completed the Top 5. Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri), who started 2nd and therefore for the first time in his career on the front row, finished only 11th.

– One year before the World Cup –

F1: Hamilton wins in Qatar, behind Verstappen with two races to go

One year to the day before « its » 2022 World Cup, Qatar organized its very first Formula 1 Grand Prix, at night on the Losail circuit where football stars were present (David Beckham, Andrea Pirlo, Marcel Desailly or Patrick Kluivert and the Brazilian Cafu).

Qatar will not be on the calendar in 2022 but signed a 10-year contract with F1 in 2023, raising criticism from international NGOs which condemn the treatment of hundreds of thousands of workers, especially from Asia, on major projects of the Mondial-2022.

Faced with criticism, Qatar claims to have done a lot to improve the working conditions of immigrant workers.

F1: Hamilton wins in Qatar, behind Verstappen with two races to go

Hamilton, engaged in the defense of minorities, wore this weekend a rainbow-colored helmet, also with bands of brown, blue, pink and white and the words « We stand together » (« We are united « ).

« It’s important for me to represent this LGBTQ + community, there are situations (in this region of the world, editor’s note) that are not perfect and must be highlighted, » he explained on Saturday, adding that he would wear this helmet in Saudi Arabia (December 5) and Abu Dhabi (December 12).

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