ercedes’ Lewis Hamilton made it two wins in as many weekends in the 2021 Formula 1 season, dominating the Qatar Grand Prix to move within eight points of championship leader Max Verstappen.
In F1’s first-ever visit to Qatar, Hamilton was the class of the field all weekend long at the Losail Circuit, and took an easy win from his pole position, shrugging off concerns about tyre wear after several other drivers suffered late punctures.
“It was pretty straightforward, it was pretty lonely at the front,” said Hamilton afterwards. “Of course I enjoy those races where you’re battling through, but we needed those points today, so I thank a real solid job from the team.”
“I’m really grateful for the points, it’s been a hell of a year. To be at this point in the season and have back-to-back wins is a great feeling and puts us in good stead for the next two races.”
Verstappen’s race was one of damage limitation after being demoted to seventh on the grid for ignoring yellow flags during qualifying, but the Red Bull driver quickly made his way up to second behind Hamilton, with the two title rivals streets ahead of the chasing pack.
Though Verstappen had no answer to Hamilton’s outright pace and had to settle for second place, the Dutchman did at least limit the damage to his championship lead by taking the bonus point for fastest lap away from Hamilton.
Behind the top two, Fernando Alonso rolled back the years with a fine drive to third in his Alpine, marking the first time since 2014 that the veteran had appeared on an F1 podium.
Sergio Perez took fourth in his Red Bull, ahead of Alonso’s teammate Esteban Ocon on a good day for Alpine.
Lance Stroll finished sixth for Aston Martin, just ahead of the Ferrari duo of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.
Lando Norris recovered to finish ninth in his McLaren after a late pit stop following a puncture, with Stroll’s teammate Sebastian Vettel rounding out the top ten.
Verstappen still leads the drivers’ title race with 351.5 points, but Hamilton now sits just eight points behind with 343.5, and the momentum currently seems to be with Mercedes in terms of outright pace as the championship enters its final two races.
In the constructors’ championship, Mercedes lead with 546.5 points, just five points ahead of Red Bull, who closed the gap as Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas failed to score after suffering a puncture.
Formula 1 now visits another new venue for the penultimate round of an enthralling season, with the first-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah on December 5.