Qatar Grand Prix Qualifying Report: Perez Leaves Verstappen Exposed as Hamilton Takes Pole in Losail

Published 11/20/2021, 10:03 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Qatar Grand Prix – Losail International Circuit, Lusail, Qatar – November 20, 2021 Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during qualifying REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/Pool


As the sun set in Losail, it was time for the Qatar Grand Prix qualifying session. With Red Bull’s rear wing issues and Mercedes dominance setting the storyline for the qualifying session, it was an intense battle of speed throughout – one that ended with Hamilton in front.

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In the final round of qualifying, the Alpines and the AlphaTauris showed their competitive spirit. The AT02s charged through the circuit, setting impressing times as they have been all season. However, a puncture for Gasly put him on 4th while Yuki Tsunoda finished 8th. The Alpine duo wasn’t far behind. Alonso stood in 5th and Esteban Ocon in 9th.

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Putting McLaren ahead of Ferrari, Norris qualified 6th, ahead of Carlos Sainz. Sebastian Vettel rounded up the top 10 with his Aston Martin.

With Verstappen grabbing on to every tenth of a second he could find, he pushed the RB16 to its absolute limit. However, as the clock hit zero and the checkered flag dropped, Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man on the track.

With Bottas in P3, Verstappen is set to have a lonely battle against the Silver Arrows, and it will be one worth tuning in for!

Q2 – Surprise classification for KO’d drivers for Qatar Grand Prix

Now with 15 minutes to push their cars to the limit, the drivers fought hard and fast for the coveted Q3 appearance. With a mix of soft and medium boots on the machines, the battle had begun.

McLaren and Ferrari’s battle faced its test as the Prancing Horses seemed to be the faster car after this session. However, with five minutes to go, the drivers on the wrong side of the sheets were Norris, Perez, Russell, Ricciardo, and Leclerc. Different from what we’re used to, and unfortunately, Sunday will start with little changed.

Mr. Saturday had made it to Q2, but Q3 was far from reach. In the last minutes, Russell pitted, under-fueled for a better time, and settled for a P15 start on Sunday.

The rest of the Q2 knock-outs were a bit surprising. With Ricciardo in P14, one can expect a Big Two-face off in the middle of the grid as Leclerc will join his rival car in P13.

Formula One F1 – Qatar Grand Prix – Losail International Circuit, Lusail, Qatar – November 20, 2021 Red Bull’s Sergio Perez during qualifying REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Lance Stroll took his Aston Martin to P12, behind yet another surprise appearance from the Red Bull of Sergio Perez. There were disappointing faces across the paddock, but it will make for some intense racing on Sunday.

Q3 – Brief scare for Leclerc as Mazepin goes slowest in Qatar

After a lot of problems for Nikita Mazepin, the driver finally made it out on the track. Only the second time he’s hitting the tarmac this weekend, Mazepin looked comfortable on the circuit. However, soon, the Russian made his way to the garage for a front wing change. Losail has been harsh on the Haas machine.

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Track limits on turn 16 set the tone for the session as Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc were the first to fall victim to it. Despite having lap times deleted, Norris stood comfortably away from the elimination zone, while the Monegasque had a brief scare before running to safety in P10.

The 18 minutes of the session soon came to the final minutes as Elimination Zone warned the bottom five drivers of their positions. However, as the times were slotted in, Nikita Mazepin sat at the bottom of the sheets, as his teammate out-qualified him in P19.

Formula One F1 – Qatar Grand Prix – Losail International Circuit, Lusail, Qatar – November 20, 2021 Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen during qualifying REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Antonio Giovinazzi leads the Haas duo with the Williams of Nicholas Latifi qualifying ahead of him. Kimi Raikkonen missed out on Q2 to Russell, marking off the first round of eliminations on Saturday.

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Now we have the grid for the Qatar Grand Prix! With a very interesting order of cars to face the lights tomorrow, the race on Sunday would be one to look out for.

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Shreya Sanjeev

642 articles

Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.

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