Qatar Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton takes pole with title rival Max Verstappen also on front-row

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 (REUTERS/Pool)
(REUTERS/Pool)

Lewis Hamilton took pole at the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix as he continues his fight to cut into Max Verstappen’s championship lead.

The Mercedes driver reduced to deficit to 14 points after a stunning performance in Brazil last week, and he was too quick once again in Qatar to ensure he will start in front for Sunday’s race.

Verstappen is also be on the front-row for now, and it could prove to be a dramatic first corner after the issues the pair have had racing wheel-to-wheel during the season.

However, the Dutchman has been summoned to see the race stewards on Sunday morning after allegedly not slowing for double-waved yellow flags.

With Mercedes showing their pace advantage in Saturday’s final practice session, Hamilton stomed to pole Doha with a time of one minute 20.827 - almost half a second faster than his main title protagonist.

“Yesterday was a really difficult day for me - I really struggled through that practice yesterday,” Hamilton admitted.

“I was here until midnight last night working with the engineers and found a little variation where I could improve, made some changes for third practice and it worked but - then you have to carry that through to qualifying.

“That last lap was beautiful, it is an amazing track to drive and it felt good.

“I had a bit of a stomach ache from Wednesday but I slept really well last night and that made a bit of a difference.”

Additional reporting by PA Sport.

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