Max Verstappen, representing Red Bull Racing, is all set to open at the pole position for the forthcoming Qatar Grand Prix, ahead of the celebrated Mercedes pair, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. The final leaderboard was determined after a closely contested one-hour three-part qualifying session, where five cars each were eliminated in Q1 and Q2, and the remaining top-10 competed fiercely in Q3 to determine the final positions.
The qualifying sessions were engineered under a ‘sprint weekend’ format, which signifies that its outcome does not influence Saturday’s sprint but paves the way for the grid structure for Sunday’s main event. This format is known for creating intense racing scenarios, ensuring spectators witness nail-biting competition on the track.
The final qualifying results of Qatar GP placed Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing first with a recorded time of 1 minute and 23.778 seconds. Following him was Mercedes‘s George Russell, trailing by just 0.441 seconds with an impressive run. Lewis Hamilton, the other half of the dynamic Mercedes duo, secured the third position with a timing of 1 minute and 24.305 seconds, falling short of Verstappen by 0.527 seconds. Further down the pecking order were Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin, Charles Leclerc of Ferrari, and other notable drivers.
The early pace in the initial Q1 session was set by Verstappen at 1m26.884s, which was subsequently bested by Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin, Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, and Lando Norris. However, Lando Norris of McLaren had his time revoked for exceeding track limits. Eventually, Verstappen emerged as the fastest, snaking the top spot with a speed of 1m25.007s.
In Q2, Verstappen opened strongly, but the McLarens drivers Oscar Piastri and Norris managed to outstrip him momentarily. Following a fierce competition with Carlos Sainz from Ferrari, Verstappen resecured his top position, only to be overtaken in the final moments by Hamilton. Notably, well-known drivers such as Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri), Sainz (Ferrari), Sergio Perez (Red Bull) could not move past this phase of qualifying.
Q3 flaunted Verstappen’s dominance as he set the pace at 1m23.778s. He remained unchallenged even after Norris and Russell put on strong performances, only to have their times removed due to an infringement on track limits. Ultimately, Verstappen earned his pole position, followed by Russell, Hamilton, Alonso and Charles Leclerc. Lando Norris was disappointedly placed in the tenth spot following multiple infringements.
Going into the race, Verstappen is the driver to beat, but the narrow margins revealed in the qualifying indicate an intensely competitive race on Sunday.