Verstappen on course for third title in Qatar sprint

Max Verstappen
Reading Time: < 1 minute

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was on course to secure his third Formula One championship on Saturday after qualifying third for a Qatar Grand Prix sprint race with sole title rival and team mate Sergio Perez five places behind.

McLaren’s Australian rookie Oscar Piastri took pole position ahead of team mate Lando Norris for the 100km race at the floodlit Lusail circuit.

The race is a standalone event, with the main grand prix on Sunday.

Verstappen need finish only sixth in the sprint to secure his third successive world championship while Perez, 177 points behind, must finish in the top three to have any hope of delaying the inevitable for another day.

Mercedes’ George Russell will line up in fourth place with the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc fifth and sixth.

Nico Hulkenberg qualified seventh for Haas with Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso ninth and Alpine’s Estaban Ocon qualifying 10th.

Only the top eight score points in the sprint.

“Max is only starting third, so he’s not a million miles away. We will try our best,” said Piastri.