- Verstappen is leading the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday.
- By then, the Red Bull driver might have already claimed the championship.
- Perez, a teammate, is only 13th.
- Mercedes earn second – and third-place finishes.
Max Verstappen took the lead in a Qatar Grand Prix on October 6( Reuters ) that, if the Red Bull driver wins his third Formula One championship in the Saturday sprint, could turn into the Sunday title parade.
Sergio Perez, a member of Verstappen’s Mexican team and the only other driver still vying for the championship mathematically, was eliminated from the race in the second phase for exceeding track limits, placing him only 13th.
Only three points are required for the 26-year-old Dutchman to win the championship. Saturday is the qualifying day for the 100km solo sprint.
The weekend has off to a great start, and the car is running smoothly. Really, that’s all I can hope for, said Verstappen.
Lando Norris from McLaren qualified in the front row of the qualifying session before having his fastest lap dropped to 10th place due to exceeding track limits.
As a result, Oscar Piastri from McLaren and Mercedes’ George Russell rose to second place.
The Australian rookie had his lap removed while giving his post-qualifying interview, but he still finished sixth, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton taking third place.
Hamilton, a seven-time world champion, was one of many drivers who were being looked into earlier in the session for disobeying the race directors’ orders.
Hamilton finished first in the second stage, followed by Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Perez, the only non-Red Bull winner of the season qualifying 12th.
Verstappen and Sainz were battling for track position when the Dutch driver was unimpressed on the team radio and the stewards were investigating the collision.
The first phase had been led by Verstappen, with Norris coming in a close second.
When teammate Alex Albon moved more quickly to maintain his 100 % qualifying record against the American, Williams’ Logan Sargeant’s chances of making it through to stage two were dashed.
Lance Stroll exited the vehicle at the first obstacle as well, punching the garage wall in frustration after exiting more slowly than teammate Fernando Alonso.
After the defeats, Alonso and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc finished in fourth and fifth, respectively.
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