Charles Leclerc has flipped the script on reigning champion Max Verstappen to snatch pole from the Dutchman at the death in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Verstappen had been in a commanding position throughout the weekend, including the early stages of qualifying, but Ferrari had a little extra in hand for Q3, with Carlos Sainz leading Leclerc to a provisional front-row lockout.

Leclerc found time with his second lap, but Sainz couldn’t squeeze any more from a fresh set of tires, gifting his teammate top spot.

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Max Verstappen topped final practice for the Bahrain Grand Prix ahead of Charles Leclerc in a difficult-to-read session.

The Dutchman was just 0.096s quicker than Leclerc, though both drivers dropped time on their final soft-tire runs. Verstappen locked up at the first turn and opted to abandon the lap for a second attempt, while Leclerc said he was missing performance in the final sector.

Leclerc appeared to be closer to the limit in his Ferrari generally, having spun off the track at turn 11 as he tried to power over the curbs. The gravel trap saved him from a crash with the barriers by feet.

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Max Verstappen has lit up second practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix, putting Red Bull Racing at the top of the time sheet ahead of both Ferraris.

Verstappen, who was quickest at this track at the end of preseason testing, lowered the benchmark from earlier in the day to 1m31:936s. But he was pursued closely by Charles Leclerc, whose Ferrari was just 0.087s slower.

Leclerc’s best time was set on five-lap old tires and the fifth lap of a qualifying simulation run, suggesting that the C3 compound is holding its own in Bahrain this season. Indeed, the majority of the field completed competitive long-run simulations on the red-walled rubber in the second half of the session, with Verstappen’s race pace in particular looking strong.

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Pierre Gasly topped the first official timed session of the 2022 Formula 1 season for AlphaTauri, leading Ferrari teammates Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz in first practice at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Frenchman used the soft tire with around 15 minutes remaining to edge the Ferrari driver to the top time by 0.364s.

“What a lap,” exclaimed his impressed engineer. “That was nice. We get into the mojo now.”

But Ferrari’s pace was more eye-catching, for neither Leclerc nor Sainz, who was less than half a tenth further back, used the soft-compound tire yet were both comfortably within half a second of the lead. Leclerc even had time to spin his car on the red-marked rubber that would carry him to his quickest time and still finish the session second overall.

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Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton on the final lap to win the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and sensationally claim the 2021 Formula 1 world championship.

The Dutchman had been on course for a sound defeat to Hamilton, who jumped Verstappen off the line and controlled the race, until five laps from the finish, when a safety car was deployed to clean up Nicholas Latifi’s wrecked Williams, which had come to a crashed end in the barriers at Turn 14.

Hamilton didn’t have the margin on Verstappen to make a safety stop, gifting the Dutchman a free switch to a set of softs to combat the Briton’s badly worn hard rubber.

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Max Verstappen stunned championship rival Lewis Hamilton by taking a comfortable pole position for the season-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Hamilton started qualifying as the favorite after a strong series of practice sessions, whereas a lackluster Saturday practice left the Dutchman as the underdog, the Red Bull Racing car apparently off the pace.

Matters seemed to get only worse for Verstappen in Q2, when a lock-up on what should have been his race-starting set of medium tires forced him to switch to softs and what is thought to be an inferior strategy for the grand prix.

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Lewis Hamilton will start the crucial final qualifying session as the fastest man after beating title rival Max Verstappen in final practice in Abu Dhabi.

The Briton blazed a blistering pace throughout the hour, which he spent predominantly on the fastest soft-compound tire, progressively lowering the bar until he was more than a second quicker than Verstappen with 10 minutes remaining with a best time of 1m23.274s.

Verstappen’s first half-hour was more subdued, spent on the slower medium-compound tire before being recalled to his garage for a rear wing change. Red Bull Racing had identified a potential reliability issue and mechanics were seen analyzing the DRS actuator — a known problem part for the RB16B — before making the wholesale change to the car to try to maintain a lower-downforce package in an attempt to keep pace with Mercedes down the straights.

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Lewis Hamilton laid down the gauntlet in the second practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix while title rival Max Verstappen — who led the way in the opening session — trailed off the pace.

Mercedes’ Hamilton spent the hour lowering the benchmark, first on the medium tires and later on the softs for his qualifying simulation run as the sun set and the track cooled. After a false start with a lock-up, he embarked on his ultimate lap, lowering the benchmark to 1m23.691s, which stood until the end of the session.

The practice session was red flagged as the clock expired when Kimi Raikkonen endured a heavy smash through Turn 13 exiting the hotel section of the track. The Finn, who is entering his final Formula 1 grand prix this weekend, lost the rear of his Alfa Romeo as he navigated the off-camber turn, smacking into the barriers rear first before rotating sideways, dealing his car substantial damage and ensuring a long night for his mechanics.

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Max Verstappen claimed top spot in first practice at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton had his best time deleted for exceeding track limits.

The Dutchman used two sets of soft-compound tires to set a time of 1m 25.009s, pipping Valtteri Bottas by 0.196s despite complaining of a right-leaning steering wheel during the first half of the session.

Lewis Hamilton had taken second spot with a fresh set of softs of his own to trail Verstappen by just 0.033s, but the time was erased for running wide exiting the last corner, dropping him to third and 0.346s short of his title rival. Sergio Perez completed the top four just 0.008s further adrift.

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Lewis Hamilton has won a chaotic and controversial Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after crashing twice with title rival Max Verstappen to zero the championship with one race remaining.

The first-ever race in Jeddah ended acrimoniously, with the warring title rivals accusing each other of dirty driving and toxic tactics after three standing restarts, two red flags and a string of virtual safety cars that stretched and shrunk the gap between the leaders throughout before Verstappen waved Hamilton into the lead after intervention from race control.

The grand prix started tamely, with Hamilton leading teammate Valtteri Bottas easily off the line to hold Verstappen in third, but the calm lasted only nine laps, when the first safety car was deployed to clean up Mick Schumacher’s high-speed crash at Turn 22.

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Lewis Hamilton topped second practice at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after the session was truncated to clean up a high-speed crash by Charles Leclerc crash.

The session had settled into a rhythm of long-run simulation with five minutes remaining in the hour when Leclerc lost control of his Ferrari through the rapid Turn 22 bend. The rear of his car stepped out as he navigated the left-hander, spinning the car backwards into the barriers in a 120mph smash.

Leclerc thankfully emerged unscathed but winded, though the car was substantially damaged, precipitating a long night for the Ferrari mechanics.

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Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton set the early benchmark at the first-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, topping first practice ahead of title rival Max Verstappen.

In a busy but controlled exploratory first sample of the circuit, Hamilton waited until late in the session to find pace with a new set of soft tires, setting a time of 1m29.786s to end the opening practice hour atop the time sheet.

Championship leader Verstappen was only 0.056s slower than Hamilton, but his practice performance was eye-catching more for his flurry of confidently aggressive early laps on the hard tire, the best time of which was less than 0.2s slower than his ultimate lap.

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Lewis Hamilton trails Max Verstappen by just eight points in the championships standings after an easy victory over Max Verstappen at the first Qatar Grand Prix.

The Briton got the perfect start to assert control over the race, but Verstappen was determined not to be left languishing in the midfield, having started the race seventh following a penalty for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying. A perfect launch on the clean side of the track lifted him three places on the first lap, and passes on Pierre Gasly and Fernando Alonso had him back in second by lap five.

Four seconds split the title protagonists, and Verstappen started to light up the timing board, but the visage of competitiveness was short lived. Hamilton put his foot down just as the gap began to shrink, and a little more than 10 laps later the margin blew out to 10s.

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Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton ended practice at the Qatar Grand Prix comfortably ahead of the pack after a second successive day of rear wing problems for Red Bull Racing.

Bottas was quicker than Hamilton around the new-to-F1 Losail International Circuit for the third straight session, topping the final practice hour by 0.078s. Despite FP3 taking place in unrepresentatively warm daytime conditions in comparison to qualifying or the race, the Finn lowered the track record by another 0.8s, down to 1m22.573s.

Red Bull had no answer to the Mercedes pace in the final practice hour, with Max Verstappen 0.341s off the pace in third and teammate Sergio Perez another 0.2 further back in fifth.

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Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix to take pole position ahead of title leader Max Verstappen.

The Briton never looked threatened through the grid-setting session, and so strong was his form that both laps set in the pole shootout were good enough to ensure his supremacy over Red Bull Racing’s team leader at the head of the grid.

But his second lap will have been a heavy blow to Red Bull Racing, his 1m20.827 besting the Dutchman by 0.455s. And with Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas third on the grid but Sergio Perez floundering in 11th in the second Red Bull, Hamilton is well placed to convert pole to victory and make further inroads on his points deficit.

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Valtteri Bottas has topped the crucial second practice session at the Qatar Grand Prix after Red Bull Racing hit rear wing trouble.

With the sun down, lights on and track temperatures some 20 degrees F cooler, conditions representative of qualifying and the race, Bottas lowered the benchmark set in the afternoon session by almost 0.6s with a time of 1m23.148s. It was the Finn’s second hot lap on the same set of soft tires, having lost an almost identical time to track limits earlier in the session.

Pierre Gasly impressed with second in the order for the second straight session, the AlphaTauri driver just 0.209s shy of Bottas’s best.

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Max Verstappen led the way in Formula 1’s arrival at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, while Lewis Hamilton endured trouble with a damaged car and a lack of power.

The title leader looked comfortable around the sandy track on his way to the fastest time, a 1m23.723s, to beat AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly by 0.437s, the Frenchman rising through the order with a late lap on softs.

Mercedes followed in third and fourth, with Valtteri Bottas 0.471s adrift and Lewis Hamilton a further 0.351s off the pace.

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Lewis Hamilton has beaten title rival Max Verstappen from 10th on the grid in a race-long duel at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix to reinvigorate his world championship chances.

The Briton wielded his Mercedes car’s straight-line speed advantage to perfection from his penalized starting position in the midfield, passing five cars off the line and rising to third after just five laps to assault the Red Bull Racing pair for a first victory since September.

His race was set up early despite teammate Valtteri Bottas failing to hold pole off the line and dropping to third, handing the Bulls an early one-two formation.

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