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

LOSAIL, Qatar — Lewis Hamilton inched closer to the System One championship lead with a dominating victory Sunday in the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix to get paid back-to-back wins and chip absent at Max Verstappen’s points benefit.

Hamilton, who also won last 7 days in Brazil, has trimmed 17 points from Verstappen’s lead in the title race in a 7 days. Verstappen still holds an 8-place lead with two races remaining in one particular of the most remarkable F1 title fights in at least a ten years.

“I’m seriously, seriously grateful for these points. It really is been a hell of a calendar year,” Hamilton mentioned. “To be at this place in the calendar year and have back-to-back wins is a excellent sensation.”

The 7-time champion commenced from pole for Mercedes and was by no means challenged on the Losail Global Circuit as Hamilton won his 102nd career race. It was his seventh victory of the period.

Verstappen completed second for Crimson Bull, almost 25 seconds behind Hamilton.

“It was pretty lonely at the entrance,” Hamilton mentioned.

Verstappen was hit with a penalty prior to the race even started when he was dropped five places on the starting off grid for violating a yellow flag in Saturday’s qualifying. The Dutchman had competent second but the stewards requested him to drop back on the grid pursuing Sunday hearings for Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz.

All three have been accused of not pursuing yellow flag policies close to the conclude of qualifying. Bottas, who had competent third, was penalized three starting off sports. Sainz was not penalized.

Crimson Bull was mystified by the grid penalty for Verstappen, who dropped any likelihood to challenge Hamilton for the acquire when he was penalized. Crimson Bull principal Christian Horner criticized the penalty when it was handed down.

“We’re seriously struggling to understand it,” Horner mentioned. “That’s a essential blow in this earth championship for us.”

Inspite of the penalty, Verstappen needed only five laps to recover and generate back to wherever he was initially slated to get started.

“Our starting off placement was a little bit compromised,” Verstappen mentioned. “I know it is really heading to be difficult to the conclude but I feel which is pleasant. It retains it remarkable.”

But he mentioned he was all set for the difficulties forward in Saudi Arabia and the finale in Abu Dhabi.

“I truly feel superior,” he mentioned. “It’s heading to be limited.”

Hamilton, winner of four straight titles, has all the momentum now. The British driver is searching for a report eighth F1 title, which would go him past Michael Schumacher.

“I’m sensation seriously superior, I’m seriously, seriously satisfied with the car,” Hamilton mentioned. “I truly feel fitter than ever, so which is a good.”

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

Sergio Perez completed fourth to aid Crimson Bull in its press to defeat Mercedes for the constructors championship.

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