The Qatar GP was absolutely dominated by pole sitter Lewis Hamilton, who took his seventh seasonal win leading all the 57 laps raced in Losail. It's his second win in a row, and it allowed him to reduce the gap in the drivers'standings to championship leader Max Verstappen to eight points.
1⃣0⃣2⃣🏆 pic.twitter.com/vo0nfUeQN4— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) November 21, 2021
The Mercedes driver commented his performance in the post race press conference, explaining that he only worried about losing his P1 at the start, but then, as the race progressed, he felt securely in the lead:
“Today, of course the race was made a lot easier with the penalties that the guys obviously got for the mistake they made yesterday, so that made it a lot more straightforward. I was just managing the gap at the front, keeping the car safe and trying to maximise and bring the car home"
"I generally felt I wasn't massively under threat. I managed to cover the ground just off the start and after that it was just kind of head down and focused on trying to [keep] the gap," he summed up.
Hamilton added that Red Bull looked pretty strong today, which he had noticed already in the first lap, seeing the impressive progression Verstappen made up from his starting P7:
“I already saw once I got to Turn 6 that Max was already in fourth place. So I knew that he was already past my team mate, and at the time I didn't know Valtteri had had such a bad getaway.
"After that, I was just focused on trying to maximise the points for the team, I was feeling strong. I think [Red Bull] had relatively decent pace but I was able to manage the pace, so it wasn't a problem."
However, the happiness for two consecutive wins won't distract the seven times World Champion from his ultimate goal, securing a record-breaking eight title by winning the battle against Red Bull, closer than in the previous seasons:
"The last two weeks have been fantastic, just amazing. But there’s no time for celebrations; I’ll be back in with the team already again next week and just back in training tomorrow. Just stay on it, head down. I don’t really have too much emotion except for [being] driven right now."
Hamilton heads into the last two rounds with a smaller gap to Verstappen, but the Dutchman definitely won't let him take the title without a fight. The competition for the win of the constructor's championship as well is still very much open, with Red Bull at only five points from the leader Mercedes after Bottas's DNF:
"To close that gap, so many points in these last few races has been important. They’re obviously still very fast, as you could see today with their fastest lap and both their cars getting past pretty much everyone quite easily. So we’ve still got our work cut out and a big shame for Valtteri today."
However hard can the challenge turn out to be in the last rounds, the English driver is hopeful for the races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi:
"I feel positive going into these next couple of races. I think they should be quite good for our car, so I'm looking forward to that battle," Hamilton concluded.
A great win for our first time in Qatar. #TEAMLH you keep us going, we keep pushing and we feel your energy more than ever. It’s been one hell of a year but I love this battle. Getting right back to work, focused and ready for the final two races. We win & we lose together. pic.twitter.com/sGHFwBcV8c— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 21, 2021