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Hamilton wins Qatar, takes the lead Verstappen

LOSAIL, Qatar –

Lewis Hamilton moved closer to the top of the Formula One championship with Sunday’s dominating victory at the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix to win back-to-back and take the points advantage of Max Verstappen.

It was the second straight win for Hamilton, who was 17 points short of Max Verstappen’s lead in the title race in a week.

Verstappen remains eight points ahead with two races left in one of the most dramatic F1 title fights in at least a decade.

The seven-time champion started from pole for Mercedes and was never challenged on the Losail International Circuit as Hamilton won the 102nd race of his career. It was his seventh win of the season.

Verstappen received a penalty before the race started when he was dropped five places on the starting grid for a yellow flag violation during Saturday’s qualifying.

The Dutchman had qualified for second but management had asked him to return to the grid following hearings on Sunday for Verstappen, Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz.

All three were accused of not following the yellow flag rules near the end of qualifying. Bottas, who made it through to the third qualifying round, was penalized for three starting sports. Sainz was not penalized.

Red Bull was baffled by the penalty for Verstappen, who lost any chance of challenging Hamilton for the win when he was penalized.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner said Verstappen did not see the yellow flag when it was displayed because of Pierre Gasly’s punctured tire at the end of qualifying.

Horner blamed “a rogue field marshal who planted the flag and he was not guided by the FIA. They must have control over their governors, simple as that.

“We’re really struggling to understand it,” says Horner. “It’s an important blow in this world championship for us, we’re starting P7, that’s huge. It takes mature people to make mature decisions.”

Despite the penalty, Verstappen needed just 5 laps to recover and drive back to the original starting position. But he still finished second 25 seconds behind Hamilton.

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso finished third on his first podium since 2014. He was assisted by pre-race penalties for Verstappen and Bottas, which sent the Spaniard up to third on the grid. start.

Sergio Perez finished 4th to help Red Bull beat Mercedes to win the constructors championship.

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