Lance Stroll claimed he passed out at the wheel of his Aston Martin because of the extreme humidity in Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix.

American rookie Logan Sargeant was forced to retire through illness, French driver Esteban Ocon said he vomited in his cockpit, while London-born Thai Alex Albon was taken to the medical centre with acute heat exposure as the grid’s drivers battled the intense conditions at the Lusail International Circuit.

A statement from 27-year-old Albon’s Williams team read: “Following the Qatar Grand Prix, Alex was taken to the medical centre to be treated for acute heat exposure. He has now been assessed and cleared by the medical team.”

Williams also revealed Sargeant, 22, had suffered from “intense dehydration” following “flu-like symptoms earlier in the week”.

Aston Martin’s Stroll, 24, who fell over as he made his way to conduct his media duties, said: “I was passing out in the car.

“They painted the kerbs and made the track narrower but you can’t feel the kerbs. I couldn’t see where I was going because I was passing out. I was fading in and out. The temperature was too much.”

George Russell, who finished fourth following a first-lap collision with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, also revealed he felt ill throughout Sunday’s 57-lap Grand Prix.

The 25-year-old said: “It was an absolutely brutal race and by far the most physical race I have ever experienced.

“I felt close to fainting in that race and I have never experienced anything like it before.

“I wasn’t physically sick in the car but I felt ill. I had to ask my engineer to give me encouragement to take my mind off of it.”

This was only the second staging of the Qatar race and the first of a 10-year deal. Next year’s edition will be held two months later in December when it is expected to be cooler.

Mario Andretti has moved to allay fears that Max Verstappen's dominance of the drivers' championship might put fans off Formula One, asserting there is "nothing boring" about the Dutchman.

Verstappen sealed his third consecutive world title on Saturday, finishing second in an incident-packed sprint race in Qatar to ensure he can no longer be caught by Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

After subsequently capping his title by winning the Qatar Grand Prix on Sunday, the Dutchman has won 14 races in 2023, leaving rivals including seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz trailing in his wake.

He also put together an unprecedented sequence of 10 successive victories earlier this year, leading to suggestions the one-sided nature of this campaign may impact F1's popularity.

The sport enjoyed a surge in popularity amid Verstappen's dramatic 2021 title tussle with Hamilton, while the Netflix documentary Drive To Survive helped engage a new generation of fans. 

However, 1978 drivers' champion Mario Andretti does not believe Verstappen's supremacy will have a negative impact on how the sport is perceived. 

"There's nothing boring about Max Verstappen," Andretti told Stats Perform. "The only thing is, the next thing that is obviously of interest is who can beat him? 

"That's the point, and that's interesting. You look forward to that every weekend, whenever the race is coming on, you say, 'I wonder if he's going to still be dominant?' 

"The other teams are not sitting still with the other drivers. But right now, Max is in a very enviable position to just really keep going."

Red Bull retained the constructors' title in September, with the team boasting a massive lead over Mercedes in the team standings. Andretti, though, does not feel changes are required to make things more competitive.

The team has won 16 of the 17 races so far this season.

"I personally love Formula One the way it is because, let's look at it on the technical side, you look at the grid and sometimes there are 10 to 12 drivers inside a second [of one another]," Andretti continued. 

"Each car, each team has different engineering, and the car looks different. Everybody obviously follows the same rules, but it's like a lawyer. A good lawyer obviously interprets a law maybe just a little bit better than the next one. That's what it's all about.

"I think Formula One has it all, it's got the technical side, but also, there's something to be appreciated there as to how close they come. I think that interest is there and will be prevalent."

Max Verstappen's third successive Formula One drivers' championship is "only the beginning", says 1978 title-winner Mario Andretti, who feels the Dutchman could go on to break records in the sport.

Red Bull star Verstappen wrapped up his third world title in as many years by finishing second in a dramatic sprint race in Qatar on Saturday, having left his rivals in the dust throughout a dominant 2023 season. 

Verstappen capped off his championship triumph in style on Sunday by cruising to victory at the Qatar Grand Prix.

The 26-year-old has a long way to go to match the accomplishments of the sport's all-time greats, however, with Michael Schumacher's record haul of seven titles being equalled by Lewis Hamilton in 2020.

However, Andretti – who captured the world crown when driving for Team Lotus in 1978 – feels those are the names Verstappen will be looking to hunt down in the coming years.

Speaking to Stats Perform, Andretti said of Verstappen: "There's no question that he fits the category of the greats, and it's ongoing.

"Like you say, it's three championships in a row and he's still going. There's no sign anywhere that he has reached a peak. 

"It's really fun watching someone like that, because he's just taking advantage of every single ounce that's at his disposal under any circumstance.

"The way I look at it, records are made to be broken. I never thought that Schumacher would have any rivals, not in my lifetime.

"I think Lewis Hamilton disproved that by tying that record, and Max is on his way, no question. 

"I mean, if there's anyone that you could consider to be a record-breaker, it's going to be Max Verstappen. At 26, it's only the beginning."

Verstappen has won 14 races this season, including an unprecedented run of 10 successive victories starting with May's Miami Grand Prix and ending after he triumphed at Monza last month.

Andretti recalled Verstappen's very first race win – which came as an 18-year-old at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix – as he heaped further praise on the Dutchman for his dominant displays.

"What makes Verstappen a great driver is that he is something special," Andretti continued.

"As a matter of fact, when you say 'special', that's understating what this man is all about. He has shown something right from the very beginning. 

"I remember in 2016, what he did that day, he revealed himself. After that, obviously the rest is history. 

"He has been dominant and is taking advantage of every possibility in the best possible way. I think for any team on the grid, they're all envious of the fact Red Bull has a contract with this guy."

A furious George Russell lashed out at Lewis Hamilton following a dramatic crash with his Mercedes team-mate at the very first corner of Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen, crowned champion of the world for a third time following Saturday’s sprint, started his title parade by racing to his 14th win from the 17 rounds so far.

McLaren’s Oscar Piastri followed up his victory in Saturday’s 19-lap dash by taking second place while his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris completed the podium.

But Verstappen’s emphatic win and McLaren’s continued resurgence played second fiddle to Hamilton’s crash with Russell which left the seven-time world champion in the gravel. Russell fought back from last to fourth.

Hamilton, third on the grid, attempted to drive round the outside of Russell, one starting place higher, and pole-sitter Verstappen in a gung-ho bid for glory.

But Hamilton tagged the front-left of Russell’s machine. An out-of-control Hamilton was sent into the gravel with the right-rear wheel of his Mercedes flying off into the air.

Russell was sent spinning round before limping back to the pits for a new front wing. Out came the safety car and the inquest started.

“F****** hell,” yelled Russell, 25. “Come on! What the hell! I have got damage.”

Referencing their ding-dong battle at the last round in Japan, Russell added: “Guys, come on, f***! Two races in a row.”

Sitting in the sandtrap, Hamilton, 38, pointed the finger at his younger team-mate.

“Yeah, I got taken out by my team-mate,” he said.

Back on track and sitting at the rear of the field, Russell returned to the intercom.

“Sorry guys, I wasn’t even looking,” he added. “I was focused ahead and he came from nowhere.

“I am lost for words. Honestly. I have just seen the replays on the TV screen. I couldn’t do anything. Totally sandwiched.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is absent from this race – his second in a row – as he recovers from knee surgery. But the Austrian came on the intercom in a move to calm Russell down.

“George, let’s race now and get the best out of it,” he said.

Forty minutes after the accident, Hamilton, 38, accepted blame for the coming together.

“In the heat of the moment, it was frustrating because I felt this tap from the rear but I don’t think George had anywhere to go,” said the seven-time world champion using a towel to mop the sweat from his brow.

“It was an unfortunate scenario and I am happy to take responsibility because that is my role. I need to go back and look at it, but I don’t feel like it was George’s fault.

“Before the race, we knew we were on different tyres so we wanted to work together. I had the soft tyre and everyone around me was on the medium and I needed to get by. I tried going round the outside of Max and it just didn’t work out.

“It was not our plan to come together. It is just really gutting for the team. I feel just really sad for everybody for my part in it.”

Hamilton insisted his partnership with Russell had not been damaged by the collision.

Mercedes announced at the end of August that Hamilton and Russell will continue alongside each other until at least the end of 2025.

He continued: “The relationship is not broken. I don’t have any problems with George. We have a great relationship and we always talk about things.

“This is just unfortunate and I am sure he was frustrated in the moment, as I was, but we will talk about it offline and move forwards.”

Amid safety concerns about the Pirelli tyres, Sunday’s 57-lap race took place against the backdrop of a flurry of mandatory pit stops – with the drivers only able to do 18 laps on a single set of rubber.

Yet, the disruption had little impact on Verstappen who sealed another comfortable win, taking the flag 4.8 seconds clear for the 49th win of his career.

Charles Leclerc finished fifth for Ferrari ahead of the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso.

Sergio Perez, whose crash in Saturday’s sprint officially handed Verstappen his third title, started from the pit lane and crossed the line ninth on yet another weekend to forget for the Mexican.

Perez was also handed a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits, demoting him to 10th.

Lewis Hamilton is out of the Qatar Grand Prix after a dramatic collision with Mercedes team-mate George Russell at the very first corner of Sunday’s race.

Hamilton, who started third, drove around the outside of his team-mate, one place higher on the grid, and pole-sitter Max Verstappen before making contact with Russell’s machine.

Hamilton was sent into the gravel with the right-rear of his Mercedes flying off in the accident.

Both Hamilton and Russell pointed the finger at one another.

“Come on, what the hell,” yelled Russell. “That is two races in a row.”

Russell was sent spinning round in the incident before limping back to the pits for repairs.

But Hamilton’s race was over. “Yeah, I got taken out by team-mate,” said Hamilton, 38.

Russell was back on the radio. “Sorry guys, I wasn’t even looking,” he added amid a flurry of expletives. “I was focused ahead and he came from nowhere.

“F*** I am lost for words. Honestly. I have just seen the replays on the TV screen. I couldn’t do anything. Totally sandwiched. “F***, come on.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff is absent from this race – his second in a row – as he recovers from knee surgery.

But the Austrian came on the intercom in a move to calm Russell, 25, down.

“George, let’s race now, and get the best out of it,” he said.

There had been a lot of talk about Max in karting. The first time I saw him was in his opening Formula Three race at Silverstone in 2014.

I remember raising it to Helmut Marko – Red Bull’s motorsport consultant – that this kid looks the real deal. Helmut watched him at the Norisring in Germany and he was convinced.

There was interest from Niki Lauda and Mercedes, but Red Bull could take him to Formula One immediately. So, he came to us a very young age. He was 16. And I remember in his very first outing for us – a demonstration run in Rotterdam – he took the front wing off the car! But you could tell in the seat fitting the confidence he had for a young guy was exceptional.

All of the drivers that came through the junior categories learned their trade out of the spotlight, but Max became the youngest driver in Formula One ever. He was only 17. Every move and every mistake he made was scrutinised.

Jean Todt, who was the FIA president at the time, changed the regulations to ensure someone as young and inexperienced as Max could not enter F1. There will never be a driver that moves so rapidly from karting to F1 again. But the way he dealt with it mentally made him a standout character.

It was obvious in his first full F1 season when he drove for Red Bull’s sister team Toro Rosso, that he was an emerging talent, and at the beginning of 2016 he was performing beyond the capability of the car.

Daniil Kvyat was struggling, and there was a lot of interest in Max. We made the decision to move him to Red Bull at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Mercedes did their thing when Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg crashed into each other on the first lap and Max, who started fourth which was already stunning, made the one-stop strategy work to win in his first Grand Prix with the team. He became the sport’s youngest ever winner, aged 18. It was a fairytale. Max had arrived.

He won races in 2017 and 2018, and in 2019 he became the team leader following Daniel Ricciardo’s departure to Renault. He grew up, and it was a transformative year for him.

In 2021 we had a car and an engine that could take the fight to Mercedes, and that season will go down as one of the most competitive sporting duels the sport has ever had.

From the first race in Bahrain through to Abu Dhabi, Max and Lewis were like two heavyweights going up against each other. Max was a dog with a bone. He wouldn’t let it go. And you couldn’t script that they would head to the final race tied on points.

Max was very cool. He put the car on pole, and we took our opportunity under the final safety car. Max had one lap to get the job done. I don’t think Lewis expected Max to attack in the corner that he did, and people overlook that he still had to beat Lewis. He still had to win the race. It wasn’t about two unlapped backmarkers. It was about Max reacting to the circumstances and getting the job done. And under the most intense pressure he did just that. He sent it down the inside and the whole place went bananas.

To see him and his father, Jos, celebrate was a very special moment because it was the culmination of all the effort that his father had put into him at a very young age. Max achieved his goal, and anything after that was the icing on the cake, because for him, it was all about becoming a world champion.

Max has still got all the tenacity he had when he got in the car as a 17-year-old, but he now marries that with experience. Outside of the car, he is a normal guy, too. He has his feet on the ground and he hasn’t had his head turned by fame and fortune. He still loves racing, and he has got good, grounded principals.

He is competitive and wears his heart on his sleeve. He is very honest. He will give you everything, but he expects everything in return.

He can go on to achieve so much more. We are riding a wave at the moment, and we want to continue riding that wave for as long as we can.

Will Max be in Formula One for a long, long time? I don’t think so. He has ambitions beyond F1 and beyond racing. And at 26, 36 seems a long way away.

We have a long-term agreement with him until 2028, and he has always said he will be happy to start and end his career here, but motivation will be a crucial factor.

Max Verstappen hailed his third Formula One world title as the finest of his career – and vowed to celebrate by downing a few sparkling waters.

The 26-year-old Dutchman has emulated Sir Jackie Stewart and Ayrton Senna after being crowned a triple world champion with six grands prix still remaining – equalling Michael Schumacher’s 21-year-old record.

Red Bull’s Verstappen has dominated Formula One since he beat Lewis Hamilton to clinch his maiden championship at the deeply controversial season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2021.

And his coronation of this most one-sided of campaigns was confirmed on lap 11 of 19 of a frantic sprint race when Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull crashed out under the floodlights of the Lusail International Circuit.

Verstappen has failed to win just three of the 16 rounds so far this season, and he became the first driver in history to win 10 consecutive races following a remarkable unbeaten streak from the opening weekend of May in Miami to the Italian Grand Prix on September 3.

Verstappen’s title parade will start here at 8pm local time (6pm BST) when the lights go out on Sunday’s 57-lap Grand Prix.

“This championship is the best one,” said Verstappen. “The first one was the most emotional because that is when my dreams were fulfilled. But this has been my best year in terms of performance.

“I am the most proud of this one because of how consistent I have been. I will have quite a few sparkling waters tonight, but I will be here tomorrow.”

Verstappen’s championship-winning campaign has been one largely led from the front but the Dutchman dropped from third to fifth at the end of the opening lap of Saturday’s sprint race.

After being usurped by Mercedes’ George Russell and Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc off the line, Verstappen momentarily got out of shape at the opening right-hander, with Fernando Alonso nibbling at the back of his machine.

Verstappen survived, and then slung his Red Bull underneath Lando Norris for fifth. Two safety cars followed as Liam Lawson and Logan Sargeant beached their respective cars and Verstappen – on the slower, but more durable, medium rubber – set about his comeback.

First to be swatted aside was Leclerc on the main straight on lap nine, with Sainz the Dutchman’s next victim on the following lap.

On lap 11, the championship was officially over. Esteban Ocon attempted to overtake Nico Hulkenberg on the inside of the second corner, and with Perez to the right of the Haas driver, Ocon lost control of his Alpine and took the Red Bull with him. It summed up the Mexican’s woefully disappointing campaign.

Perez shared two wins apiece with Verstappen from the opening four fixtures but his demise has been dramatic. He is 177 points – the equivalent of more than seven victories – behind the man driving identical machinery.

On lap 16, Verstappen eased past Russell with Oscar Piastri 2.6 seconds up the road. However, the impressive McLaren rookie could not be caught as he claimed his first win in F1. It did not matter for Verstappen who could celebrate becoming just the 11th driver to win the title on more than two occasions.

“Max, you are a three-time world champion,” roared Red Bull’s jubilant team principal Christian Horner over the radio. “That is unbelievable. It has been an incredible year for you.”

Verstappen, who starts on pole on Sunday, could claim the 49th win of his career with only Hamilton (103 victories), Schumacher (91), Sebastian Vettel (53) and Alain Prost (51) ahead of him.

Verstappen turned 26 only last week, and the prospect of emulating the seven championships shared by Hamilton and Schumacher is surely possible.

“I am enjoying the moment and hopefully we will keep this momentum going for a while,” said Verstappen, whose deal with Red Bull runs until 2028.

“It is different to other sports where you can set out targets and if I keep in good shape then these things are possible.

“But in F1 it doesn’t always work like that. It depends on the package. I have quite a few more years in me to operate at my best but we will see how long that is. It is more about how long I want to be here.

“I live in the moment and I have achieved way more than I ever thought was possible.”

Max Verstappen clinched the Formula One world drivers’ title after finishing second in the sprint race at the Qatar Grand Prix.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the Dutchman’s season and overall record in numbers.

3 – Verstappen has wrapped up his third world title.

11 – he is the 11th driver to win the title three times or more, and only the fifth to do so in successive years.

10 – along the way Verstappen produced a record-breaking run of 10 consecutive race wins, from the Miami Grand Prix in May to September’s Italian GP.

13 – his overall win tally this season, from 16 races. He has finished second twice, and fifth in Singapore.

407 – Verstappen’s points tally.

184 – lead over second-placed Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

10 – pole positions.

7 – fastest laps.

2 – sprint race wins.

48 – Verstappen’s career win total ranks fifth in F1 history. He has the chance to climb to fourth or even third by the end of the season, with Alain Prost winning 51 races and Sebastian Vettel 53.

6 – clinching the title in the Qatar sprint race means Verstappen did so with six grands prix remaining, equalling Michael Schumacher’s record from 2002.

Max Verstappen has been crowned champion of the world after he finished second to Oscar Piastri in Saturday’s chaotic sprint round in Qatar.

The 26-year-old Dutchman has emulated Sir Jackie Stewart and Ayrton Senna by wrapping up his third title with six grands prix still remaining – equalling Michael Schumacher’s 21-year-old record.

Red Bull’s Verstappen has dominated Formula One since he beat seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton to clinch his maiden title at the deeply controversial season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2021.

And the 26-year-old’s runner-up finish, coupled with Sergio Perez’s failure to finish in the top three – he crashed out with eight laps remaining – was enough to seal the deal under the floodlights of the Lusail International Circuit.

Verstappen’s championship parade will start at Sunday’s 57-lap Grand Prix in Qatar.

Lando Norris finished third for McLaren, one place ahead of Mercedes’ George Russell, with Lewis Hamilton fifth.

Verstappen’s championship-winning campaign has been one largely led from the front but the Dutchman dropped from third to fifth at the end of the opening lap.

As Russell blasted from fourth to second, a slow-starting Verstappen fell down the order, with Ferrari pair Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc leapfrogging the Red Bull man.

Verstappen momentarily got out of shape at the opening right-hander, with Fernando Alonso nibbling at the back of his machine.

The Dutchman survived and then slung his Red Bull underneath Lando Norris, who had started second, to take fifth.

Moments later, Liam Lawson beached his AlphaTauri and out came the safety car. Meanwhile, Perez, who had to finish in the top three to prevent Verstappen from taking the title, had dropped from eighth to 11th.

Perez threatened to fight Verstappen for the championship by winning two of the opening four rounds of the season. However, the Mexican’s challenge has faded desperately – he has not won since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 30.

In came the safety car at the end of the second lap, and Russell, on the speedier, but less durable soft tyres, made his move on the medium-shod pole-sitter Piastri to assume the lead.

Then, the error-prone Logan Sargeant put his Williams in the gravel. The safety car was deployed again as the American’s stricken machine was cleared from danger.

The safety car pulled in at the end of lap five and Russell raced away from Piastri as Verstappen – on the slower, but more durable, medium rubber – set about his comeback.

First to be swatted aside was Ferrari’s Leclerc on the main straight on lap nine, with Sainz the Dutchman’s next victim on the following lap.

The race was starting to come back to those on the medium tyres, and Piastri roared past Russell to reclaim the lead at the start of lap 11.

And then the championship was officially over when Perez’s race ended in the gravel at Turn 2. Esteban Ocon attempted to overtake Nico Hulkenberg on the inside of the second corner, and with Perez to the right of the Haas driver, Ocon lost control of his Alpine and took Perez with him. It summed up Perez’s woefully disappointing campaign.

The safety car was deployed for a third time before a five-lap blast to the flag.

On lap 16, Verstappen eased past Russell with Piastri 2.6 sec up the road. However, the McLaren man could not be caught.

But Verstappen, who needed to finish only sixth to be sure of the title, need not worry as he celebrated becoming just the 11th driver to win the world championship on more than two occasions.

Max Verstappen has clinched his third world championship.

The most one-sided Formula One campaign of recent memory was dominated by the Dutch driver.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at six races which fired Verstappen on the road to glory.

Bahrain

Verstappen opened his championship defence with an ominous performance under the floodlights in Sakhir.

He finished 11.9 seconds clear of team-mate Sergio Perez and nearly 40 sec ahead of third-placed Fernando Alonso.

George Russell, 55 sec back in his under-performing Mercedes, summed up the mood in the paddock when he chillingly predicted Verstappen’s Red Bull team would win all 22 races this year.

Canada

Verstappen’s sixth victory from the season’s opening eight fixtures saw him match Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41 victories.

A day after taking pole position in the wet, Verstappen reigned supreme in the dry at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Even an early collision with a bird could not stop the flying Dutchman as he drew level with Senna to leave only Lewis Hamilton (103), Michael Schumacher (91), Sebastian Vettel (53) and Alain Prost (51) ahead of him in the record books.

“To tie with Ayrton is incredible and I am proud of that but I hope it doesn’t stop here,” he said. “I hope we keep on winning more races.”

Belgium

Verstappen’s invincible streak continued in the final round before the summer break at Spa-Francorchamps.

The triple world champion started sixth following an engine penalty but he took the lead on lap 17 of 44 before crossing the line 22.3 sec clear of his forlorn Red Bull team-mate Perez.

Hamilton, who finished fourth, 49 sec back, described his rival’s dominance as like “he is having a smoke and a pancake”.

Netherlands

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed “untouchable” Verstappen as the best driver in the world after he overcame a chaotic rain-hit race to equal Sebastian Vettel’s record of nine wins in a row.

Despite two separate downpours wreaking havoc at the beginning – which left him in 13th place – and conclusion of the 72-lap race in Zandvoort, Verstappen delivered in front of 105,000 expectant fans. At one stage, Verstappen was lapping his home track four seconds faster than Perez and two seconds quicker than anybody else.

“Max is in a period of his career where he is just simply untouchable,” said Horner. “I don’t think there is any driver on the grid that would be able to achieve what he is doing in that car.”

Italy

Verstappen drove his way into the history books by taking his 10th-consecutive victory. He sat behind Carlos Sainz for 14 of the 51 laps at Monza’s Temple of Speed before fighting his way past the Ferrari pole-sitter at the second chicane.

From there, the commanding Dutchman never looked back to better the mark he shared with Vettel and become the first driver in F1 to reach double figures for straight victories.

However, there were sour grapes over at Mercedes with team principal Toto Wolff calling Verstappen’s remarkable streak “completely irrelevant” and “for Wikipedia”

Japan

Verstappen’s historic winning run, and Red Bull’s unbeaten season, came to an end in Singapore. But at the next round in Japan, he hit back in emphatic style.

He topped every practice session in Suzuka, secured pole, and then won at a canter as Red Bull became the first team ever to win the constructors’ championship with six races to spare.

Max Verstappen will begin his quest to win the world championship from third for Saturday’s sprint race in Qatar as Oscar Piastri took a surprise pole position.

Piastri saw off team-mate Lando Norris as McLaren secured a front-row lockout.

Lewis Hamilton was knocked out of Q2 and qualified only 12th in his Mercedes for the 19-lap dash, which gets under way at 8:30pm local time (6:30pm BST).

Verstappen will wrap up his third consecutive title if he finishes sixth or better, or if Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez fails to finish inside the top three in the sprint at the Lusail International Circuit. Perez qualified only eighth on yet another scruffy outing for the struggling Mexican.

A day after taking top spot for the start of Sunday’s 57-lap main event, Verstappen, who has dominated all year, saw his first lap in Q3 deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 5.

And the 26-year-old Dutchman was unable to do enough on his final run to usurp Piastri, finishing two tenths behind the rookie Australian.

Norris was in the running for first place but he ran wide at the last corner and failed to improve on his earlier effort.

George Russell finished fourth for Mercedes – four tenths behind Piastri – and ahead of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc, who took fifth and sixth respectively for Ferrari.

Sprint qualifying at a windswept Lusail – 18 miles north of Doha – was delayed amid fears over the safety of the tyres.

The running had been due to start at 4pm local time (2pm BST), but was delayed by 20 minutes following revisions to the track limits.

The drivers took part in an additional 10 minutes of practice to familiarise themselves with the changes made to the track at turns 12 and 13 prior to qualifying.

Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, said “a separation in the sidewall between the topping compound and the carcass cords” were discovered on the Pirelli tyres following yesterday’s one-hour running.

The federation believe the problem is likely to have been caused by a number of the high kerbs used at the circuit.

An emergency summit was staged in the build-up to qualifying with the drivers assured they would not be put in harm’s way.

Additional analysis will take place following today’s sprint race and further action – which will include three mandatory tyre stops – may be taken for Sunday’s grand prix.

Lance Stroll shoved his British performance coach and stormed out of a television interview after he was eliminated from Q1 in Friday’s running.

And the under-pressure Canadian fell at the first hurdle again on Saturday, one place better off in 16th.

Stroll’s Aston Martin team-mate Fernando Alonso, who also saw his best effort in qualifying chalked off for exceeding track limits, lines up in ninth.

Qualifying for Saturday’s sprint race in Qatar has been pushed back amid fears over the safety of the tyres.

The running had been due to start at 4pm local time (2pm BST), but it will be delayed by 20 minutes following revised track limits at the Lusail International Circuit.

The drivers will instead take part in an additional 10 minutes of practice at 4pm to familiarise themselves with the changes made to the track at Turns 12 and 13 prior to qualifying.

Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, said “a separation in the sidewall between the topping compound and the carcass cords” were discovered on the Pirelli tyres following yesterday’s one-hour running.

The FIA said the problem is likely to have been caused by a number of the high kerbs used at the circuit.

Additional analysis will take place following today’s 19-lap race, and further action – which will include three mandatory tyre stops – may be taken for Sunday’s grand prix which runs for 57 laps.

Max Verstappen will be crowned champion of the world for a third time if he finishes sixth or Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez fails to finish outside the top three in Saturday’s sprint.

A furious Lance Stroll shoved his British personal trainer and then stormed out of a television interview following his dismal qualifying session for the Qatar Grand Prix.

After he failed to make it out of Q1 – finishing more than a second behind Fernando Alonso in the other Aston Martin – Stroll took aim at his performance coach, Henry Howe.

Stroll ignored Howe’s request to exit the front of the garage. Howe attempted to restrain Stroll only for the Canadian to angrily push him out of the way.

Stroll, 24, then faced the media and provided six words to three questions about his performance which leaves him 17th on the grid.

Asked to describe his emotions, Stroll replied: “S***.” Quizzed on what is not clicking for him behind the wheel Stroll added: “I don’t know.”

And when he was challenged as to how he would handle the remainder of the weekend, Stroll simply said: “Keep driving,” before he walked off.

Stroll, the son of Aston Martin’s fashion billionaire owner Lawrence Stroll, has been blown away by team-mate Alonso this season.

Alonso, who qualified fourth for Sunday’s race here, has scored 174 points to Stroll’s 47.

He has claimed all of Aston Martin’s seven podiums this year while Stroll has managed only three points from his last seven appearances.

Max Verstappen took pole position for Sunday’s Qatar Grand Prix as the indomitable Dutchman closes in on his third world title.

Verstappen will be crowned champion of the world if he finishes at least sixth in Saturday’s 19-lap race at the Lusail International Circuit.

And the Red Bull driver started his quest to become just the 11th driver in history to win the title on more than two occasions in typically irresistible fashion by clocking the fastest time in qualifying.

In terms of the championship mathematics, Verstappen’s pole lap for Sunday’s main event will be redundant if he secures three points in Saturday’s sprint – the starting order for which will be determined by a second qualifying session here on Saturday afternoon – or Sergio Perez fails finish inside the top three. The probability of both are high.

As Verstappen raced to top spot, with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton securing second and third on the grid for Mercedes, Perez failed to make it out of Q2.

His best lap, which would have been fast enough to see him sneak through to Q3, was deleted for exceeding track limits at turn five. Perez, in equal machinery to the driver dominating the sport, will start 13th on Sunday.

Perez threatened to fight Verstappen for the championship by winning two of the opening four rounds of the season, but the Mexican’s challenge has faded. He has not won since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 30, with Verstappen winning 11 of the next dozen races.

Indeed, only a Singapore blip for Red Bull has thwarted this most one-sided of seasons for the Dutchman.

He bounced back in impressive fashion to win in Japan last time out and his form under the Lusail lights, 18 miles north of Doha, indicates he will wrap up his third championship in as many years in style.

Qualifying did not pass without incident for the 26-year-old following a duel with the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz, who, like Perez, was a surprise casualty in Q2.

“What is he doing, man?” Verstappen yelled over the radio. “He is defending. You see that? I almost crashed into him.” The stewards are investigating the Spaniard for erratic driving.

Verstappen then aborted his final lap after making a rare mistake, but his first effort was good enough for first place, and he is primed to celebrate his probable title triumph on Saturday by claiming his 14th win from the 17 rounds so far 24 hours later.

Behind Verstappen, Lando Norris looked to have taken second place, but his lap was scrubbed after he put all four wheels of his McLaren over the white line, relegating him to 10th.

Russell was bumped up to second, one place ahead of Norris’ McLaren team-mate Oscar Piastri. However, the Australian’s lap was also chalked off, dropping him to sixth and promoting Hamilton to third.

Mercedes will take some comfort from being best of the rest, but Russell still finished four tenths off Verstappen, with Hamilton half-a-second down.

Max Verstappen finished fastest in practice in Qatar as he closes in on a hat-trick of world championships.

The Dutchman needs to finish only sixth in Saturday’s sprint race to clinch the title and he made light work of Friday’s sole practice at the Lusail International Circuit.

Verstappen finished three tenths clear of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, with Charles Leclerc third in the other scarlet car.

Fernando Alonso took fourth spot for Aston Martin, one place ahead of Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished only eighth and 13th for Mercedes.

Verstappen has dominated this season – winning 13 of the 16 races staged – and he will claim his third straight title if he scores three points in the 19-lap sprint race.

First, Verstappen must qualify for Sunday’s main event and, on the evidence of the early running, he appears favourite to take pole position.

The Dutch driver soared to the top of the time sheets of the one-hour running in the final minutes with a healthy third-of-a-second advantage to the rest of the field.

Russell was almost a second back in the lead Mercedes, with Hamilton 1.2 sec behind Verstappen.

Qualifying takes place at 8pm local time (6pm BST).

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