Lewis Hamilton to start on pole at the Qatar Grand Prix

Red Bull's championship leader Max Verstappen, 14 points clear of his British rival with three races to go, will join him on the front row.

Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes W12 during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Qatar at Losail International Circuit.   -  Getty Images

Lewis Hamilton maintained the momentum from last week's stunning win in Brazil to claim pole for the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix after qualifying on Saturday.

Max Verstappen, who leads his Mercedes rival by 14 points with three races to go, will start alongside Hamilton on the front row on Sunday.

But the gap will give all at Red Bull a restless night - almost half a second, a clear sign Hamilton's new engine fitted last weekend has injected fresh life into his quest for an unprecedented eighth world title.

F1: Tensions boil in Qatar between Mercedes and Red Bull  

His flying lap time of 1min 20.827 that clinched Qatar's first-ever pole position proved too much for Verstappen, who was 0.455sec slower.

Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas posted the third quickest time under floodlights at the Losail circuit to fill the second row with Pierre Gasly for Alpha Tauri.

Mercedes was handed an unexpected advantage in its titanic title battle with Red Bull after Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez failed to make it to the Q3 top 10 shoot out.

With the Mexican down in the sixth row on Sunday's grid, Red Bull's tactics to upset Mercedes rest on Verstappen.

This was Hamilton's 102nd career pole but his first since Hungary almost four months ago.

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