Lewis Hamilton wins Qatar Grand Prix, cutting Verstappen’s points lead

LOSAIL, Qatar — Lewis Hamilton inched nearer to the Method One particular championship direct with a dominating victory Sunday in the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix to earn back-to-back wins and chip away at Max Verstappen’s details benefit.

Hamilton, who also won previous week in Brazil, has trimmed 17 details from Verstappen’s direct in the title race in a week. Verstappen nonetheless retains an 8-position direct with two races remaining in a single of the most extraordinary F1 title fights in at the very least a 10 years.

“I’m genuinely, genuinely grateful for these details. It really is been a hell of a calendar year,” Hamilton mentioned. “To be at this position in the calendar year and have back-to-back wins is a wonderful experience.”

The 7-time winner started from pole for Mercedes and was under no circumstances challenged on the Losail Global Circuit as Hamilton won his 102nd vocation race. It was his seventh victory of the year.

Verstappen concluded 2nd for Red Bull, nearly 25 seconds behind Hamilton.

“It was very lonely at the front,” Hamilton mentioned.

Verstappen was hit with a penalty in advance of the race even began when he was dropped 5 places on the starting grid for violating a yellow flag in Saturday’s qualifying. The Dutchman experienced qualified 2nd but the stewards requested him to fall back on the grid adhering to Sunday hearings for Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz.

All 3 have been accused of not adhering to yellow flag regulations close to the close of qualifying. Bottas, who experienced qualified third, was penalized 3 starting sports. Sainz was not penalized.

Red Bull was mystified by the grid penalty for Verstappen, who lost any probability to obstacle Hamilton for the acquire when he was penalized. Red Bull principal Christian Horner criticized the penalty when it was handed down.

“We’re genuinely having difficulties to comprehend it,” Horner mentioned. “That’s a essential blow in this world championship for us.”

Even with the penalty, Verstappen needed only 5 laps to get well and drive back to where he was initially slated to start out.

“Our starting posture was a bit compromised,” Verstappen mentioned. “I know it is heading to be tough to the close but I think that is great. It keeps it thrilling.”

But he mentioned he was ready for the problems forward in Saudi Arabia and the finale in Abu Dhabi.

“I come to feel superior,” he mentioned. “It’s heading to be tight.”

Hamilton, winner of 4 straight titles, has all the momentum now. The British driver is trying to get a history eighth F1 title, which would go him past Michael Schumacher.

“I’m experience genuinely superior, I am genuinely, genuinely joyful with the car,” Hamilton mentioned. “I come to feel fitter than at any time, so that is a optimistic.”

Fernando Alonso of Alpine concluded third for his very first podium due to the fact 2014. He was aided by the pre-race penalties to Verstappen and Bottas, which moved the Spaniard up to third on the starting grid.

Sergio Perez concluded fourth to aid Red Bull in its drive to beat Mercedes for the constructors championship.

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