Lewis Hamilton wins inaugural Qatar F1 Grand Prix

Back-to-back wins moves defending champion within eight points of Verstappen.

The win was Hamilton's seventh of the season win and his 102nd overall [Andrej Isakovic/AFP]

Lewis Hamilton has claimed an emphatic victory from pole at the inaugural Qatar Formula One Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen recovered well from a grid penalty to finish second but saw his Formula One championship lead cut to eight points by Hamilton on Sunday.

Back-to-back wins for the defending and seven-time champion Hamilton in Brazil and Qatar have moved him within eight points with two races left.

Hamilton claimed his seventh season win and 102nd overall ahead of Verstappen at the flood-lit Losail International Circuit where his Mercedes had already been superior over Verstappen’s Red Bull in qualifying.

“We needed those points today. I can’t wait to watch the race replay to find out what happened behind me,” he said.

“I’m really grateful for these points, it’s been a hell of a year. Back-to-back wins. I feel good, I feel fit, fitter than I’ve ever felt. Bring on the next two,” Hamilton added.

Hamilton crosses the finish line to win the Qatar Grand Prix [Hamad I Mohammed/Pool/Reuters]

Verstappen, who took a bonus point for fastest lap, was hit with a five-place grid penalty earlier on Sunday and Bottas lost three shortly before the start as stewards ruled both had ignored yellow flags in qualifying – dropping Verstappen from second to seventh and Bottas, who did not finish, from third to sixth.

“Our starting position was compromised, but luckily we had a really good start,” Verstappen said.

“Of course, I know it’s going to be difficult to the end but it keeps it nice, keeps it exciting. This track was fun to drive as well. I feel good, but it’s going to be a tight battle to the end.”

Double world champion Fernando Alonso was third for Renault-owned Alpine, the 40-year-old Spaniard’s first podium finish since 2014.

Sergio Perez finished fourth to help Red Bull in its push to beat Mercedes for the constructors championship.

Source: News Agencies