In the crucial phase of the title fight it is Lewis Hamilton who currently has the fastest car. This was already evident in Brazil and was underlined again during qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix. The Mercedes man was no less than four tenths faster than Max Verstappen.
Team boss Christian Horner praises, as so often, his star driver. “It’s great to be on the front row with Max, he got the most out of the car today.”
Overtaking is difficult on the Qatar track, making the start potentially crucial: “Max has one chance in Turn 1 tomorrow, but otherwise it will be very difficult to follow close in the fast corners or to try to overtake.”
Start Verstappen will be crucial
Attacking at the start is therefore the motto for Verstappen, who will also have to look back. Behind him is Valtteri Bottas in the second Mercedes, with the Finn starting from the clean line.
“So the first 500 meters are crucial and after that it comes down to strategy, pit stops and reliability, all those factors. The tires are under constant load on this track, so it will be interesting to see how they hold up during the race.”
Verstappen is probably on his own during the race, because teammate Sergio Perez did not get further than a dramatic eleventh place on the grid.
“It’s a shame Checo isn’t in the top ten, but it’s a long Grand Prix and he could still be an important factor for us in the race tomorrow,” Horner said. “With both title candidates starting next to each other, it should be a great race.”