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Hamilton Wins Qatar Grand Prix to Cut Verstappen’s Championship Lead

Hamilton Wins Qatar Grand Prix to Cut Verstappen’s Championship Lead

Starting from the pole position, Lewis Hamilton dominated Sunday’s race under the lights at the Losail International Circuit to win the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix. Hamilton’s victory in Qatar, the 102nd win of his F1 career and 81st for the Mercedes F1 team, puts him within eight points of current F1 drivers’ championship leader Max Verstappen with two races left in the 2021 season.

“A big thank you to everyone trackside and back at the factories for all their hard work,” said Hamilton. “I’m really grateful for these points and it’s amazing to be able to close the gap so much in the last two weeks. We’ve still got our work cut out, but we’re loving such a close battle and the challenge that it brings.”

Hamilton had a strong start and quickly established a healthy lead. Valtteri Bottas struggled off the start and lost ground, falling from P6 to P11, but he was quickly moving up the field and making progress. With Verstappen pitting on lap 17 for the hard tire, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team reacted by changing Hamilton’s tires on the next lap, retaining his advantage. The gap between the two fluctuated as they negotiated traffic, but Hamilton continued to control the pace.

Bottas was running a strong recovery back through the field and was running P3, yet to stop, when he suffered a front-left puncture on lap 33. He limped back to the pits, switching to the hard tire, but the car damage proved too significant, and he retired on lap 48.

The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team reacted to Verstappen’s second stop, pitting Hamilton for medium tires on lap 43. He was then able to stretch out his advantage, eventually finishing the race 25.7 seconds ahead of Verstappen after the Red Bull’s late third stop.

Verstappen (351.5 points) remains ahead of Hamilton (343.5 points) Bottas (203 points) in the Drivers’ Championship. The Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team (546.5 points) lead Red Bull (541.5 points) by five points in the Constructors’ Championship.

The F1 season continues next month at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Live coverage on ESPN2 begins at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday, December 5.

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