Champion-in-waiting Verstappen on pole for Qatar GP

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Max Verstappen stormed to pole position at the Qatar Grand Prix and needed only one run in the final qualifying session to achieve it.

Mercedes drivers George Russell and Lewis Hamilton were promoted to second and third after penalties for McLaren’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri.

Norris and Piastri had been second and fourth, sandwiching Russell, but lost their times for exceeding track limits.

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso starts fourth.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc will begin from fifth after team-mate Carlos Sainz failed to make it through to the top 10 shootout.

The qualifying session set the grid for the grand prix on Sunday, by which time the most consequential result of the weekend may already have occurred.

Saturday is devoted to the sprint event, with a qualifying session followed by a short race, and this could result in champion-elect Verstappen being crowned.

Verstappen will clinch the title as long as he does not lose six points or more to Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez in an event that awards eight points to the winner and then a sliding scale down to one point for eighth.

That matter was on the backburner on Friday, and as well as the strife for Sainz there was another big scalp in the second qualifying session, when Perez was eliminated. (BBC Sport)

 

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