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Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton hits the wall at Saudi Arabia pole as Max Verstappen

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Lewis Hamilton snatched pole position for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Saturday, boosting his hopes of staying on course for a record eighth Formula One world title. Championship leader Max Verstappen was the third fastest at Red Bull after hitting a wall on his final flying lap on the tight Jeddah street circuit as he appeared ready to beat his opponent. Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was second and will share the front row on Sunday. “What a tough track it is. It’s amazing what they’ve built, the pace and speed here is phenomenal,” Hamilton said.

“It’s a great result for the team and a great job by Valtteri – he’s the best partner I’ve ever had in this game.”

For Hamilton, who cut Verstappen’s championship lead with consecutive victories in Brazil and Qatar, it was the fifth pole of the season and the 103rd pole of his career.

Verstappen, who has an eight-point lead over Hamilton with only two races left, could claim his maiden world title on Sunday if he wins the race and Hamilton moves out of the top six.

If not, the 2021 title fight will be wired in Abu Dhabi next weekend.

“I don’t really understand what happened (on the last flying lap). I stopped a little bit,” Verstappen.

“P3 is disappointing, but today showed the car is fast around so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Sergio Pérez in the second Red Bull finished in the top five for Sunday’s race, the first to be held in the state.

Pierre Gasly (Alfatauri), Lando Norris (McLaren), Yuki Tsunoda (Alfatauri), Esteban Ocon (Alpine) and Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) complete the top 10.

Safe pole capped a dramatic day for seven-time champion Hamilton.

He had escaped clearance for yellow flag incidents at Saturday’s practice, which was called for an alleged failure to slow down under a double-waving yellow flag and blocking Nikita Mazepin’s Haas.

However, the Mercedes star was cleared of any wrongdoing after the stewards admitted that a double-waved yellow light panel had been activated by mistake.

Mercedes was fined 25,000 euros for the second incident.

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Verstappen was hit with a five-place grid penalty for failing to honor the double-waved yellow flag while qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix last month.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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