Lewis Hamilton starts 12th as Verstappen behind Oscar Piastri in Qatar GP sprint

Max Verstappen sent offer to quit Red Bull and join F1 rival keen to be his team-mate

Lewis Hamilton will have it all to do in today’s Qatar Grand Prix sprint after a dismal shootout performance ensured a 12th-placed start for the Mercedes ace. Max Verstappen, meanwhile, is on the verge of securing his third Drivers’ Championship title in as many seasons and has a golden chance to wrap it up this evening.

The Dutchman will be confirmed as this year’s champion if he finishes sixth or higher, which seems likely given that he will be starting from third on the grid. He was unable to snatch pole position earlier today in spite of his best efforts, with Oscar Piastri set to lead Lando Norris off the line when the five red lights go out.

It remains to be seen if the McLaren duo will be able to keep Verstappen at bay over the course of the 19-lap sprint, though. They will certainly be looking to give him a serious run for his money, but Red Bull are almost unbeatable on their day and will be desperate to celebrate a long-awaited title party after the chequered flag drops.

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  • Starting grid18:20
  • Tyres to decide the result?

    “I hope there is going to be some tyre degradation because that is always going to make the racing more exciting,” says Nico Rosberg on Sky Sports F1.

    “That’s what could give Max a chance to attack those McLarens towards the end of the race and we want to see a battle happen.”

    Starting grid

    Here’s a look at today’s starting grid, with Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris lining up just ahead of Max Verstappen.

    Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, will have it all to do from down in 12th…

    How can Verstappen win the title?

    Max Verstappen will wrap up this year’s Drivers’ Championship title if he finishes sixth or higher at the end of today’s sprint.

    He needs just three more points to put himself mathematically out of reach, with Sergio Perez currently 177 points adrift of his Red Bull team-mate in the standings.

    The Dutchman will also be champion regardless of what he does today if Perez fails to finish in the top three of the sprint.

    What happened in the shootout?

    Oscar Piastri managed to get himself on pole for today’s sprint with a brilliant lap at the end of the shootout earlier today.

    It was initially scheduled to begin at 2pm but was pushed back by 20 minutes to allow for an extra 10-minute practice session due to tyre safety concerns.

    Piastri was the star of the show once proceedings got underway as he left it late to jump ahead of Max Verstappen and Lando Norris to claim top spot and ensure a McLaren one-two.

    Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, saw many of his lap times deleted for exceeding track limits and eventually failed to finish in the top 10.

    Good evening

    Hello and welcome to Express Sport‘s live coverage of this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix sprint, with Max Verstappen just one step away from wrapping up his third Drivers’ Championship title.

    The Dutchman has the opportunity to get it done in today’s 19-lap contest and will be crowned champion if he finishes sixth or higher.

    However, it could be tricky for him to get past the McLaren duo of Oscar Piastri and Lando Norris in the battle for victory if they manage to play their cards right.

    We’re just half an hour away from lights out in Qatar and will be keeping you updated with all the action as it unfolds.

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