Lewis Hamilton continued his stellar form by winning the inaugural Qatari Grand Prix despite being chased down by Max Verstappen.
Hamilton, 36, moved closer to topping the drivers’ championship standings with a second consecutive race win in Qatar.
The seven-time world champion started on pole and got off to a strong start, showing his superior pace while maintaining his lead for ENTIRE 57 laps.
Hamilton defended his lead with a sure drive, never letting rival Verstappen come under five seconds, despite conceding the fastest lap.
Verstappen got off to a great start, moving from seventh to second in just six laps, overtaking Pierre Gasly, Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris.
And despite a solid race, a perfect drive from Hamilton to take his 102nd Grand Prix victory meant the Dutchman couldn’t get past him.
The win was Hamilton’s seventh win of the season and gives him a chance to win his eighth world title with two more race victories in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
The same result in Saudi Arabia would put the British level on points, with Verstappen going into the final race, setting a thrilling climax in Abu Dhabi.
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Speaking after the race, Hamilton said: “It was a very straight race in the end and it was great work by the team because we really needed the points today.
“It’s a great feeling to have back-to-back wins and prepares us for the final two races.”
Verstappen recovered incredibly well from his five-place grid penalty to move back into second and score an extra point with the fastest lap.
He stays ahead by eight points and successfully limits the potential damage that could have been caused to Hamilton if Verstappen failed to make the podium.
Speaking after the race, the Dutchman said: “Luckily we had a really good start. It was great to get the fastest lap at the end of the day.”
Fan favorite and alpine racer Fernando Alonso secured his first podium since Budapest in 2014, ahead of fourth-placed Checo Perez.
Alonso was voted driver of the day for his efforts, a winning day for Alpine, with Esteban Ocon finishing fifth.
In his post-race interview, an enthusiastic Fernando Alonso said: “It’s been seven years but we finally got there [a podium finish], I am very happy for the team.
The former world champion couldn’t hide his excitement to be back between podium places by giving Jenson Button an X-rated post-race interview.
Alonso said: “The team was excellent and the reliability of the car is great at the moment. F**k, I’ve waited so long for this and I’m so happy!”
Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas, had a nightmare run due to a disastrous start and things went from bad to worse for the flying Finn.
He suffered a puncture at the seventh turn on lap 34 and, despite going into the pit lane, could not recover and retired on lap 52.
Nicolas Latifi and George Russell also suffered a series of punctures of late with Latifi also failing to finish the race.
It was a disappointing day for McLaren, despite welcoming David Beckham to their garage, with Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo finishing 9th and 12th respectively.