Lewis Hamilton during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar
Lewis Hamilton has revealed how he overcame a stomach ache to produce a sensational drive in qualifying to grab pole position at the Qatar Grand Prix.
The seven-time world champion landed his 102nd pole position of his career, with Max Verstappen alongside him on the front row.
But Hamilton’s +0.455 advantage over the Red Bull was the largest gap in dry qualifying this year, emphasising the great potential of the Mercedes in the closing stages of the season.
And after overcoming his illness, Hamilton praised the Mercedes engineers for working late into the night to find solutions.
“On Friday and Saturday I wasn’t feeling well,” Hamilton revealed to Sky Sports F1. “I really struggled throughout practice.
“I was here until midnight working with the engineers. Found a lot of areas I can improve, made some changes for P3 and carried it through to qualifying.
“That last lap was beautiful, really sweet, this track is amazing to drive, it felt good. Stomach ache, from Wednesday, but felt fantastic today and slept really well.
“It’s such a fast circuit, it’s not the easiest to follow, but it’s not massively degrading on the tyres.”
While Hamilton will also have the support of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who starts from third, Verstappen is on his own at the front of the grid.
The second Red Bull of Sergio Perez failed to make it out of the second round of qualifying and will start down in 11th.
“I think we were lacking a bit of pace,” said Verstappen.
“I think it is a bit more tricky for us. We are struggling a bit more than normal but nevertheless we are second so it is all to play for.
“It has been a bit up and down. I was happy in qualifying – but just not quick enough as that sometimes happens.
“I thought I had had a good lap and then I heard the gap in lap time and thought, well I didn’t really need to risk that. For tomorrow, when it is such a gap it will be difficult.”
The end of qualifying caused confusion as a puncture for Pierre Gasly saw the yellow flag come out and go back in.
The AlphaTauri man has impressed over the weekend and will start fourth despite his late issue, with Fernando Alonso fifth for Alpine.
PA contributed to this report
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